Tag Archives: Tennessee Williams

Tell A Good One…

by Robin Byrd

There is a place for all of us – writers… on the page, on the stage, on film…  We may not get into the venues we want to get into but there is a place for our stories.  Don’t give up.  Don’t settle for not writing your stories down or telling them out loud… record them somewhere – the library of congress, your website…

I think of this because of the book “Sounder”, the author’s note in the beginning admits that an old black man told him this story – an old black man that was his teacher and was sometimes allowed to pray in the white church from the balcony – a sign of the times.  The author couldn’t even remember the old man’s name but he remembered the story.   William H. Armstrong recounted the story of Sounder omitting all the names of all people in the book, the only name given was Sounder’s.  The old black man was probably the boy all grown up.  The lack of names gives the story a very poignant universal air now I can’t forget the story.

I am about to read Tennessee William’s first play, A Candle to the Sun.  Why?  He can tell a good story.  I’m working on Suzan-Lori Park’s Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1,2 & 3.  Why?  She can tell a good story, too.  They do it so well…this thing called writing… so well, it makes me try harder…  Makes it a little bit easier for me to just do the thing and let come what may…as long as I telling a good story and doing my best to tell it well… someone somewhere will read it.

I finally finished a play I’ve been mulling over for about five years, Fiddler’s Bridge.  Felt good to get it out and even better to see my evolution as a writer  — not so much that I am different but I know my craft better and it’s easier to just do the thing…  Now all I have to do is stop putting Fiddle, Fiddlin’ or Fiddler in the title…but then again, titles have to fit the piece.  I imagine after I have completed more of my 80 plus projects there will be an evolution to the handling of subject matter that can be seen.  Or not…  All I need to do is keep telling good stories…  How about you?  Told any good ones lately?

unexpectedly, on writing

Sara Israel, July 8, 2010

Okay.  I’m going to admit it.  I’m really not into books on writing.

There.  I said it.

Goodness knows there are plenty of well-written, valuable books on the subject, books others writers swear by.  But for me they are too pragmatic or too mystical, too humble or too prideful, too technically written or too artistically rendered.  Bottom line:  I tune out.

But several weeks ago I wanted to buy a meaningful gift for May Treuhaft-Ali, the glorious 14 year-old author of the play May, which I just had the privilege to direct in The Blank Theatre Company’s Young Playwrights Festival.

I confidently speak for my cast as well— the terrific trio of Will Barker, Heather Morris, and Michael Welch— when I say that exploring the world of May’s writing was a singularly amazing and altering experience.  And so on the occasion of our opening night, I wanted to give May something that she could draw upon as an artist in return for this gift she had given us.

Because she is a writer, I first thought to buy her a book on writing.  And then I remembered, well, everything I’ve declared above.  But it struck me:  although I avoid books “on writing,” there are surely books I’ve read that nonetheless have made an enormous impact on my work as a writer.

At the top of that list is No Tricks In My Pocket: Paul Newman Directs, by Stewart Stern.  I first discovered this book for a college acting class.  I have read it no less than 10 times since.  It’s technically about this guy, Stewart Stern, who happens to be an old friend of Paul Newman, and happens to follow him around as he directs the 1987 film version of The Glass Menagerie.  But of course it’s not really about that.  It’s about discovery— the ways Tennessee Williams’ characters discover themselves, the ways the actors discover those characters, the way Paul Newman discovers the connections between the two, and the way Stewart Stern discovers his old friend in a new light.

And discovery— the art of it, the wonderment of it, and the mechanisms of it— are the basis for lots of good writing.

So I bought No Tricks In My Pocket for our sweet 14 year-old May.  She has reported to me that she’s already read it— though she’s never read nor seen The Glass Menagerie.  I see nothing wrong with this, because maybe it means that, like me, she’ll keep on re-discovering the book over and over again, an unexpected writing friend.