Queer playwright Tennessee Williams, internationally renowned for works like A Streetcar Named Desire is being honored by Key West, an island where he lived for more than three decdes.
Williams famously said of his chosen home, “I work everywhere, but I work best here.”
In return, Key West remembers the gay artist annually on the day of his birth. This year is the 110th anniversary of Williams’s birth on March 26, 1911. The city has canceled some of the month-long events in light of safety concerns, but there will still be plenty of opportunities for fans to explore his writing and life during the Tennessee Williams Birthday celebration.
The island is offering screenings of film adaptions, prose and poetry contests, online programs, and private tours of Key West’s Tennessee Williams Museum, available to masked guests by appointment. Exhibits at the museum include personal photographs, rare memorabilia, video footage, one of his typewriters, and a scale model of Williams’ Key West home (where he is pictured below in 1982).
Williams first visited Key West in 1941, later, while he lived there, he completed Summer and Smoke and wrote Night of the Iguana, among other works, on the island. The Academy Award–winning adaptation of his play The Rose Tattoo was filmed there in 1954.
Key West’s Tropic Cinema will screen film adaptations of Williams's work on four consecutive Mondays in March. Suddenly, Last Summer will screen on March 1, The Fugitive Kind on March 8, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone on March 15, and The Rose Tattoo on March 22. The theater will follow health and safety directives, including mandating masks.
An online presentation, Tandy Talks Tennessee, features Broadway and film actress Tandy Cronyn reminiscing about Williams and her parents, actor/director Hume Cronyn and actress Jessica Tandy (the latter originated the role of Blanche DuBois in Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire.
Aspiring writers can enter the celebration’s poetry and short story contests any time prior to the March 7 deadline. Entries must reference Williams in some way.
Find the full schedule, event information, and ticketing here.