Tennessee Williams Topanga Style

TAC member Bill Pierce photographed Williams in Key West. The photograph originally appeared in Time magazine. Photo courtesy of Bill Pierce

Topanga Actors Company (TAC) will present staged readings of A House Not Meant to Stand by Tennessee Williams at the Topanga Library March 7 and 8 at 2 p.m., and at the Woodland Hills Branch Library on March 14 at 3 p.m. Free admission. 

A House Not Meant to Stand is Williams’ final play that he wrote as a comedy.  He called it his “Southern gothic spook sonata” and gave it the subtitle, “A Gothic Comedy.”

Without knowing it, his own death wasn’t far off. The play is at once hysterically funny and deeply touching. According to Goodreads, “while Williams often used drama to convey hope and desperation in human hearts, it was through this dark, expressionistic comedy [that] he was best able to chronicle his vision of the fragile state of our world.” 

A House Not Meant to Stand is a return to Williams’ Mississippi roots and has many references to Williams’ work and personal life, including borrowing the name of his despised father for the character of tyrannical Cornelius McCorkle.  And who is the deceased Chip McCorkle whose funeral his parents have just attended, described by his homophobic father as the “prettiest girl at Pascagoula High,” but Williams himself. 

It is late December 1982. Bella and Cornelius McCorkle return home at midnight during a thunderstorm. The McCorkles have just buried their older son. Their daughter, Joanie, is in an asylum and their younger son, Charlie, is in bed upstairs with his pregnant holy-roller girlfriend. 

“I tell you,” says Cornelius to the audience, “entering this house from a cloudburst ain’t exactly like coming in from the rain.”  

Cornelius will spend much of the play bullying Bella whom he’s convinced knows the whereabouts of a legendary family fortune. Soon we meet neighbors Jessie and Emerson Sykes whose tangles with sex, money, and mortality comically echo the McCorkles’.  Who is the craziest of them all? And who is the one most to be pitied? It turns out the ending is as surprising as Williams intended.  

The stellar cast includes Annie Abrams, Edward Giron, Elizabeth Herron, Joshua Hinson, Tom Waters, Jeanette Vigne. The director is Stephen Hoye. 


No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.