I’ve been away for a while. But I had this idea….
The short version
I am directing the Tennessee Williams’s one-act, Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let me Listen for Frontera Fest. We perform on Tues., Jan 29, At 8 pm.
The Long Version
1977-Paris-For some reason, one act plays are all the rage in Paris that summer. I see several. One is Tennessee Williams’ “Talk to me Like the Rain and Let me Listen.” Maybe I’m hungry to hear American. Maybe I’m 20 and tripped out on the lyrical sexuality of everything around me. Maybe Tennessee just struck the exact right chord but I was knocked out by the play. I swear it was performed in a catacomb in Paris. I swear it was like we had dropped into that couples lousy New York apartment. I swear the couple fought and made love and lived their whole lives in front of me that night.
Ten years later:
I am living in Austin. Jim Fritzler is sort of this demi god of directing. I am hanging out with the “In the West” cast and I ask him if he knows the Tennesee Williams one act. He does. I ask him what he would think of staging the play with three couples (gay, lesbian and heterosexual) couples and performing it back to back. “You mean, perform the play three times with three different sets of actors?” “Yeah,” I say. “Boring,” he says.
The demi god of Austin theatre peed on my idea. Twenty years pass.
The play still lingers in my mind. I am wandering around the streets of Austin late one night last summer with my friend Lou Rigler. I tell him about the play, the back story, my idea and then suddenly, I see a way to do it.
You see, what’s fabulous about this play is that the man and the woman in the script are like two sides of Tennessee Williams talking to each other. In that way, the man and woman in the play can be any couple—gay, lesbian, straight—trapped together, loving each other, hating each other, wanting to flee, wanting to stay, ravaged and ravaging each other. So then I think, “Hey, why don’t I stage the play with four actors—two women and two men—and then kind of open up the play so that the script echoes a bit and the actors can play opposite each other in both gay and straight couples.”
So that’s what I did. Lou Rigler, Liz Fisher, Omid Ghorashi and Debbi DeSimone joined me to help make this idea come to life. So far the rehearsals are great and I think Tom (aka Tennessee) would approve.