has been a sumptuous helping of synchronicity in regard to U
& Me & Tennessee,right
from the movie's inception. As we struggle to complete post-production
and have it all ready for film festivals and markets around the
world, the coincidences just keep on occurring. Tennessee
Williams is still news.
NOTEBOOKS have just been published. If you want to
get an idea of
how it might have been to be around Tennessee, you can consult them.
Callow has written a thoughtful, considered review
of the NOTEBOOKS in The Guardian.
Waters has added his own witty and perceptive take
in The New York Times on why Tennessee was and is so
important to so many people, and Peter
Conrad's review in the Observer
is the literary equivalent of an extraordinary rendition to Gitmo for
the late Mr. Williams - worth a read! Plus, The New Yorker
recently published a newly discovered poem of Tenn's, from his university
2006 the second volumn of Tennessee's Selected
Letters was published and also the 6 DVD set
of movies based upon his plays and original filmscripts was released
in the States and Britian. Despite having "gone on to greater rewards"
in 1983, Tenneessee Williams in now. He would
no doubt be tickled by this state of affairs.
from the Notebooks, absent
from Selected Letters
Vol. 2 - is any mention of, or correspondence
between Tennessee and Konrad Hopkins. But this is not surprising. Tennessee's
life entailed a never-ending parade of "gentlemen callers",
the vast majority of whom figure as little more than walking shadows
in his life's rich pageant.
Tenn and Konrad exchanged many powerful letters and significant
gifts, spanning the years 1952 - 1956. This correspondence, together
with Konrad's harrowing, delightful and moving reminiscences,
form the bedrock of our movie.
Konrad first wrote to Tennessee in the spring of 1952, he was
serving as a sergeant in the USAF. (He enlisted to avoid being
drafted and sent to Korea. His strategy worked!). The letter
was simply a fan letter - but thoughtful - and Konrad wrote intelligently
and movingly about one subject very close to Tennessee's heart:
poet Hart Crane.
Hart Crane was not the only one. He was a magnificient writer. He should
be regarded as high as Whitman and Melville and Dickinson in our literature,
especially for his White Buildings. I love his knarled, difficult
images, his challenging themes -- the Chaplin-Pierrot artist in the
modern commercial world, for one, is so much Crane's own story."
wrote back immediately, and his letter contained a truly startling
"Your letter made a
strong impression on me. I think mostly because of the interest in
Crane. Crane remains closer to my heart than any other modern artist.
I think he is a sort of archtype of the martyred artist in our times.
Martyred is a sentimental word and yet in Crane's case it fits.
confess that his life is more meaningful to me personally,
than that of Christ,
if only because he practised
my vocation in my time and suffered the same damnation that I and
possibly you and so many others must suffer...
I think that people
of rare sensibility like Crane leave an ineradicable mark on
the world which is almost mystical. It's not what they do so
much as what they are, and I don't think it needs the Roman
Catholic church and a list of certified miracles to make them
our own particular saints who have come after them and are
comforted by their shadows on the desert..."
then on - well, their correspondence prefigured by half a century
the internet romances of today.
Tennessee at his home in Key West, Florida:
"There is more personal
illumination in your new letter...and I'm glad of that. Perhaps
you will throw discretion to the winds and send me an inscribed
Konrad sent Tenn a photo, he received an astonishingly attentive
and powerful reply, full of Tennessee's speculations on his character,
personality and physicality, and clear signals of interest...
"Send me some more
photos and I'll go on!
to know you're going to be in New York sometime in the spring...It
would be wonderful if your visit could coincide with the opening,
(of Tenn's play
later, from New Haven, Connecticut, where Camino Real was playing
before it came to Broadway:
"I dashed up here (to
his hotel room) between acts of "Camino"
for a private drink and just to write a few lines. I'll do
better as a pen-pal after we come into New York...I feel
that you're an old friend. The pictures are lovely. I hope
you continue to send them. You are becoming so familiar to
me now. I suspect that I know you far better than I could
have known you through an actual meeting, as I am shy and
possibly you are, too....In New York my phone is Murray Hill
8-6744. Hasta la vista!"
whole story - from its fervent, hopeful beginning to its terrifying
climax and disheartening denouement - along with some fascinating detours
into the Greek myths, the New York literary scene in the '50's, James
T. Farrell, Gore Vidal, Burt Reynolds and a chilling (but very funny)
episode with Pulitzer prize winning playwright William Inge - will be
laid out for all to experience in -
& Me & Tennessee\
timely - and clear-eyed - look at Tenn.