Tennesee Williams and the out-crying heart

Filed under: BiographyDrama

American theatre critic and award-winning biographer John Lahr discusses one of America’s most celebrated playwrights Tennessee Williams - 70 years on from the first Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie.

It is 70 years since the first Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie, which closed to 24 curtain calls. Its author, 34-year-old Tennessee Williams, went on to write A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and to pioneer what Arthur Miller called ‘a revolution’ in American theatre. John Lahr’s biography Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh won this year’s National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, the Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award for ‘quality of prose’. In this talk Lahr relates Williams’s literary voice to his self-proclaimed hysteria – what he described as “six engines inside a jalopy”.

John Lahr has written for the New Yorker since 1992, where for 21 years he was Senior Drama Critic. He is the author of Notes on a Cowardly Lion, a biography of his father, star of The Wizard of Oz, and of biographies of Joe Orton and Dame Edna Everage. He has edited the diaries of Ken Tynan and Joe Orton, and has twice received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. He was the first critic ever to win a Tony Award – for co-authoring Elaine Stritch At Liberty. The event is introduced by Andrew O’Hagan.

We are grateful to the Hawthornden Charitable Trust for sponsoring this event.

Recorded on: September 9, 2015
Recorded at: The Courtauld Institute of Art