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Archive for June 8th, 2009

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by Sam Juliano

      The first thing that catches the attention of theatre goers finding their way to seats at the cozy Pearl Theatre Company’s St. Mark’s Place location for a staging of Tennessee Williams’s Vieux Carre, is the peculiar presence of a cast member onstage before the show begins.  An older woman with disheveled hair and a poverty-row bathrobe sits at a kitchen table staring ahead with a blank expression, while drinking coffee from a mug.  The actress Carol Schultz is playing Mrs. Wire, the lonely but cantankerous, and autocratic landlady of a New Orleans boarding house who menaces her tenants with shrill threats. 

     Mrs. Wire is one of a strange group of characters who subsequently appear onstage, characters who are based on events and people in Williams’s own life.   The central character is known as “the writer” and he moves into a seedy boarding house at 722 Toulouse Street, New Orleans, much like Williams did in 1939.  The argumentative “maid” known as “Nursie” assists Mrs. Wire, and all in attendance are a consumptive gay artists Nightingale, two old ladies Mary Maud and Miss Carrie, who pretend to dine at all the best restaurants in the city, despite being penniless; an affluent New Yorker named Jane, who may be suffering from a blood disease,  and her audacious boyfriend Tye, (think Stanley and Stella) who admits to working in a strip joint.  Williams has always stated that the ‘writer’ in this play was his ‘alter-ego’ and Mrs. Wire and the tubercular Nightingale are based on real people. (more…)

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