The time had come to do Tennessee Williams’ A House Not Meant To Stand, director Mattie Olson realized. Rather the time had gone — at least her clock had.
“I’ve seen this play a couple of times. When I saw it, my daughter, who is in theater and was doing the props for the show, wanted to borrow my clock — which is pertinent to the plot. I loaned it, and I said, ‘I’ll come see the show.’ Then I fell in love with it,” Olson said. Not a passing fancy, enduring love that abided for years.
“I fell in love with it and tried to see if I could get the rights. Well, the rights weren’t available, and I contacted the Tennessee Williams estate, and for eight years they kept me hanging on, saying ‘No, we haven’t released it. It’s not even published yet, and we want to keep it in the family and maybe go professional with it.’ It was the seventh year that I tried and the only answer I got back from them was ‘No.’ So I tried again the eighth year, and they released it and let us do it.”
Olson, who has been with the Ascension Community Theatre since its founding 12 years ago, is happy to bring this little-known Williams play to the Pasqua Theatre in Gonzales. “I’m very excited about it, to be able to create Tennessee Williams’ last story that he told,” Olson said. “It’s an unknown play, unless you’re a Tennessee Williams scholar. It’s the last play that he fully wrote. He died nine months later.”
“This is one of only six comedies he ever wrote. This is a dark comedy, he (Williams) called it a ‘gothic comedy’,” Olson said. The play includes some dark scenes, a ghost or two, people who suffer the ordinary indignities of human existence and the inherent comedy in living that existence as a Pascagoula, Miss., family tries to cope with a gay son’s death, the mother’s senility, the younger son’s behavior with his pregnant girlfriend and a missing fortune. It all takes place in a ramshackle house on the Gulf Coast.
“The play is tinged with sadness too,” Olson said. “It deals with age, it deals with homosexuality, it deals with obesity.”
Some of the subject matter and language of the play is a bit mature for younger audiences, Olson said, but is fine for young adults. “I’ve rated it PG-13. I don’t want high school students to miss it,” she said. “It’s a roller coaster ride for anyone who watches it. It’s so much fun.”
A House Not Meant to Stand opens at the Pasqua Theatre Thursday, Nov. 1.
- CAST: Nick Cardona, Cornelius; Lorna C. Bourgeois, Bella; Nanette Kivett, Jessie; Derek Bourque, Charlie; Warren Fraser, Emerson; Bess Yurek, Stacey; Michael Mason, PeeWee Jackson/man in black; R. Wayne Attuso, officer/man in black; and Andrew Kim, Dr. Crane