Tennessee Williams: Eccentricities of a Nightingale
The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium
Tuesday, September 4
$15 – $25
Tennessee Williams at his shining, gentle best, interpreted by the IRC! Bethany Mission Gallery transforms into Glorious Hill, Mississippi, for this rarely performed, preferred revision of Williams’s Summer and Smoke. The gallery’s unique collection of outsider art frames an unusual, poetic blending of two art forms.
$15–$25 / 80 minutes
Founded in 2006, the IRC is the only company in the nation dedicated solely to the production, preservation and study of absurdist drama. The IRC’s mission and signature style has repeatedly earned the company the title “absurdist masters.”
Described by the LA Times as “…richly atmospheric, emotionally rewarding…” Tennessee Williams’ rewrite of his earlier study of a claustrophobic small town and its gossipy residents comes alive amid a renowned collection of outsider art at The Bethany Mission Gallery in the Spring Garden neighborhood.
The IRC’s production of Eccentricities is the Philadelphia premiere of the author’s preferred version of his earlier play Summer and Smoke, which opened on Broadway decades prior (1948) at The Music Box Theatre. Clive Barnes’ review of Eccentricities for The New York Times on November 24, 1976: “Perhaps the most eccentric thing about Tennessee Williams’s new (yes new) and pungently atmospheric play The Eccentricities of a Nightingale is its provenance…it started as a rewrite for the London production of Summer and Smoke, obviously a radical rewrite. But that production was already deep into rehearsal when Mr. Williams arrived with his revised script, which was put away and did not emerge until years later. Now Mr. Williams has worked further on the script…and the resultant new play…knocks Summer and Smoke off the map, except as a literary curiosity.”
Eccentricities is a sometimes gentle, often brutal indictment of how our instinct to marginalize and discard others different from ourselves can destroy lives; the play honors the unique in Tennessee Williams and in us. Martin Esslin — drama critic, professor and author of The Theater of the Absurd — codified a group of experimental playwrights in the mid-20th century possessing a tragicomic view of what he termed ”a world gone mad.” His invention of the term Theater of the Absurd certified his position as one of the most influential critics of the second half of the 20th century. He writes: “…the Theater of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy. It aims to knock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation. The challenge behind the message is anything but one of despair. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely because there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone. The shedding of easy solutions, of comforting illusions leaves behind a sense of freedom and relief. And that is why, in the last resort, the Theater of the Absurd does not provoke tears of despair but the laughter of liberation.”
We hope you’ll come early to experience a full evening of the ultimate, eccentric outsider art.