In Masks Outrageous and Austere

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    Southern Values in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof "The weight of Southern history, the power of social and racial divisions and its rituals and taboos often make self-determination and moral choice unachievable" (King). This statement from Kimball King perfectly summarizes the point Tennessee Williams strove to exemplify in many of his works. Thomas Lanier Williams, better known as Tennessee Williams, was born on March 26, 1911 in Columbus Mississippi. He spent the first seven years of his life in the south, and the people, experiences, and lifestyles there greatly influenced his most famous works. Williams trained in playwriting at the University of Iowa and graduated in 1938 (Shuman 1652). In 1955, his play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof received a Pulitzer Prize, The New York Drama Circle Award and the Donaldson Award. He was a prolific author and playwright, but he began a personal downward spiral. By the mid 1950s he was dependant on alcohol and drugs. In 1969 his brother had him committed to a St. Louis mental ward, but Tennessee continued to write. During the night of February 25, 1983 Tennessee choked to death on the cap from a pill bottle in his hotel room in New York and was later buried in St. Louis. In his nearly five decade career, Tennessee Williams wrote over seventy plays, two collections of poetry, four collections of stories, two novels, memoirs, and countless essays. His need to continuously edit and revise his writing resulted in many of his earlier works…

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    roles written by Tennessee Williams did not have to compete with canonized interpretations. The original performances of Laurette Taylor’s Amanda, Marlon Brando’s Stanley, and Burl Ives’s Big Daddy were acts of creation, rather than re-interpretation. Over time, as these performances have become engrained in cultural memory, new performers are forced (by critics, audiences, and scholars alike) to compete with an assumed stability to these original performances, made mythic by their canonization.…

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