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James Grissom reads from his debut Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog
March 5, 2015 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
An extraordinary book; one that almost magically makes clear how Tennessee Williams wrote; how he came to his visions of Amanda Wingfield, his Blanche DuBois, Stella Kowalski, Alma Winemiller, Lady Torrance, and the other characters of his plays that transformed the American theater of the mid-twentieth century; a book that does, from the inside, the almost impossible—revealing the heart and soul of artistic inspiration and the unwitting collaboration between playwright and actress, playwright and director.
At a moment in the life of Tennessee Williams when he felt he had been relegated to a “lower artery of the theatrical heart,” when critics were proclaiming that his work had been overrated, he summoned to New Orleans a hopeful twenty-year-old writer, James Grissom, who had written an unsolicited letter to the great playwright asking for advice. After a long, intense conversation, Williams sent Grissom on a journey on the playwright’s behalf to find out if he, Tennessee Williams, or his work, had mattered to those who had so deeply mattered to him, those who had led him to what he called the blank page, “the pale judgment.”
Among the more than seventy giants of American theater and film Grissom sought out, chief among them the women who came to Williams out of the fog: Lillian Gish, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Kim Stanley , Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Jo Van Fleet, Rosemary Harris, Eva Le Gallienne, Julie Harris, and Geraldine Page.