|Me and David Kaplan at Provincetown's The Boatslip|
PROVINCETOWN | You've likely not heard of Jane Bowles, but she wrote a cock-eyed, mesmerizing play that was one of the signal achievements of postwar American drama.
I think it's right up there with the classic postwar works of Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Gertrude Stein, late Eugene O'Neill, Lillian Hellman, and Sam Shepard.
That unjustly neglected play is called In the Summer House.
In the Summer House (Act Two)
by Jane Bowles
Directed by David Kaplan
Friday Sept. 27, 1:00 – 2:00
Sunday Sept. 29, 10:30 – 12:00 (with discussion moderated by Randy Gener)
The Boatslip (161 Commercial Street | $15)
A Festival Workshop Production at Provincetown, MA
A year after Mrs. Constable’s daughter Vivian died they both hang around the Lobster Bowl Restaurant. Did Vivian fall? Or was she pushed by Mrs. Eastman-Cuevas’s daughter, Molly. Adding to the melodrama set-up, another question hangs over the text: Tennessee Williams loved this play. Why? He read the first act in 1940, helped Bowles obtain a grant to get the second act written, traveled in 1956 to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to see the play performed, gave it blurbs and consistent praise in interviews and in his Memoirs. Why?
This workshop production from Festival curator David Kaplan, tries to answer those questions by picking up the story after Vivian’s death and doubling back to the scene on the cliff. With stars from Orpheus Descending (TW Fest 2010 and 2011): Irene Glezos as Mrs. Eastman-Cuevas, Brenda Currin as Mrs. Constable, Beth Bartley as Ines.
The idea of acknowledging In the Summer House as a singular work of postwar American theater is, in part, why I came to the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.
Kaplan devised this year's festival theme of "Williams and Women." His contribution? He himself staged Act Two of In the Summer House on the pool deck of the Boatslip, facing the Atlantic Ocean, on Friday Sept. 27 and on Sunday Sept. 29.
Why not stage the whole play? I journeyed to America's land's end to find out.
Following the workshop performance on Sunday, September 29, Kaplan and I discussed the play’s many connections to Williams. More important: we explored Jane Bowles and her singular dramatic style.
Here is the video recording of our conversations: