Tennessee Williams

Famous for A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and many others, playwright Tennessee Williams, born in March of 1911 as Thomas Lanier Williams, was not so certain of his place in American Literary history.

Williams made his way down to Miami in February 1941, after undergoing cataract surgery in New York City. His trip to Miami was intended to help him “feel human again,” and also to allow him time to rework Battle of the Angels into something the masses would appreciate. Although he expressed outwardly nothing but confidence in his rising success, Williams confided in a friend that he was not certain that he would ever be a household name. Fortunately, Williams was wrong and many of his works, including A Streetcar Named Desire which was staged at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, have endured over the years.

In his memoir, Williams said of his craft: “I think writing is continually a pursuit of a very evasive quarry, and you never quite catch it” (1975: 86).

– written with assistance from Rebecca Peterson


Tennessee Williams staged A Streetcar Named Desire at the Coconut Grove Playhouse

On January 16, 1956, Tennessee Williams staged a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Coconut Grove Theatre. The play tells the story of the clash between cultures and classes in the American South through two main characters, Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowlaski. The cast for this staging, including, Tallulah Bankhead as Blanche DuBois, rehearsed at the theatre under the direction of Herbert Machiz and guidance from Williams.As tensions rose between Williams and the cast, especially Bankhead, Williams left Miami for sojourns to Key West and Havana.The play was staged at the Playhouse for only a month before moving to New York City.

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