There’s a Tennessee Williams renaissance happening in New York City this spring. Classic Stage Company presents Summer and Smoke in collaboration with The Transport Group; The Morgan Library showcases “Tennessee Williams: No Refuge But Writing,” which highlights the playwright’s creative process and his close involvement with the theatrical production of his works; and perhaps the most interesting of the bunch, Abingdon Theatre Company’s The Gentleman Caller.
The new play by Philip Dawkins explores the complicated relationship between Williams and playwright William Inge. Set in 1944 before the Chicago premiere of The Glass Menagerie, Inge (who was working as a newspaper critic) invites Williams to his St. Louis apartment for an interview.
“The struggle to create while not also destroying the self in the process is one that is, I feel, as vital today as it was in the smack-middle of the last century,” says Dawkins. “Tennessee Williams and William Inge have both been such major influences not only to me but to so many others who I count as my mentors and theater-heroes. As a Midwestern playwright myself, I take the responsibility of holding these powerful queer voices from the middle of America as a great and powerful honor.”
Abingdon’s artistic director Tony Speciale helms the piece, featuring Daniel K. Isaac (Showtime’s Billions) as Inge and Juan Francisco Villa as Williams. The non-traditional casting adds another layer of interest and complexity to Dawkins’ work and reflects Abingdon’s longstanding commitment to “reflect our social, political, historical and cultural diversity.”
The Broadway Blog had a chance to chat with Isaac at the onset of the rehearsal process. The Gentleman Caller plays May 5-26 at Cherry Lane Theatre.