Category: plays

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Monday Manuscript: Notebooks from a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright

April 13 would have been playwright Lanford Wilson's 77th birthday, so we're celebrating him by featuring his work on this week's Manuscript Monday. Wilson passed away in 2011 and left his papers to the University of Missouri Libraries. The collection includes correspondence, working notebooks, drafts and proof copies, and well as work related to Wilson's personal interests, such as gardening and art collecting.

The manuscripts featured here relate to Wilson's plays A Sense of Place and Fifth of July, which was recently produced on campus by the MU Theatre Department. It's fascinating to watch Wilson at work through these pages, as he adds, edits and deletes the texts of his plays.  

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An unexpected bonus: we also found Wilson's recipe for tomato tart, which sounds delicious. Let us know if you try it! wilson2

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Posted in Special Collections

Papers of Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Lanford Wilson in Special Collections

Lanford Wilson display

Lanford Wilson displayWe’re happy to announce that an exhibition of selected materials from the Lanford Wilson Collection, curated by our colleagues at the University Archives, is on view in the Ellis Library Colonnade.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson made a legacy gift of his papers to the University of Missouri in 2011.  Wilson grew up in Springfield and Ozark, Missouri, and spent most of his life in New York.  He began his career at Caffe Cino, a pioneering Off-Off Broadway theater run by Joe Cino that produced plays by many young, aspiring playwrights.

Wilson wrote plays for La MaMa Experimental Theater Club and the Circle Repertory Company, a project organized by Wilson and three of his associates from the Caffe Cino and La MaMa.  Plays that premiered at the Circle Repertory Company included Talley’s Folly, Serenading Louie, The Mound Builders, Fifth of July, and The Hot l Baltimore.  Wilson’s plays were critically acclaimed and won several awards and nominations.  In 1980, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Talley’s Folly. Wilson was elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2001 and to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004.

Lanford Wilson displayThe Lanford Wilson Collection includes 53 linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, notebooks, posters, photographs, and over 100 books.  Researchers can access the finding aid online, and the collection is available for use in the Special Collections reading room.

The Lanford Wilson exhibition is presented in conjunction with a conference, “Angels in Performance: Documenting LGBTQ Lives in Theatre & Performance,” hosted by the MU Department of Theatre, April 24-28.  The conference will feature guest artist and award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Tony Kushner. The exhibition will be on view through the month of April.

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Posted in Exhibits, Our New Acquisition, Special Collections

Tennessee Williams’ first two plays

Before Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire, and The Glass Menagerie, there were Beauty is the Word and Hot Milk at Three in the Morning.  And before he went by Tennessee, playwright Thomas Lanier Williams was an MU student.  This weekend kicks off campus-wide celebrations of Williams’ 100th birthday, and to join in the festivities, we’re featuring two manuscripts of his earliest plays.

Beauty is the Word

Tennessee Williams' stage diagram for Beauty is the Word

 

Beauty is the Word was Williams’ very first play.  It was submitted for the MU Dramatic Arts Club’s Dramatic Prize Plays contest in 1930.  The play was produced on stage as part of the competition, but it appears not to have won an award in the contest.  Over the course of one act, two young and worldly aesthetes visit their austere and forbidding missionary relatives somewhere in the South Pacific.  When the natives revolt and threaten to burn down the mission, the young couple saves the day by appealing to the natives with dance and music rather than fear of damnation.

Hot Milk at Three in the Morning

Title page for Hot Milk at Three in the Morning, featuring the signature of Thomas Lanier Williams

 

Hot Milk at Three in the Morning was Williams’ sophomore submission to the Dramatic Prize Plays contest.  The play focuses on an argument between a young married couple who are trapped by poverty and illness.  It was staged in 1932, and like Beauty is the Word, it received an honorable mention.  Williams revised the play in 1940, titling it Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry.  It was included in a compilation of the best plays of 1940 and was the first of Williams’ plays to be published.

The manuscripts

The manuscripts were bound into volumes with other submissions for each year.

 

Both manuscripts are a part of the University of Missouri Collection, which features official publications along with the works of faculty, staff, and distinguished alumni.

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Posted in Special Collections, University of Missouri Collection
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