Credit info for Orpheus Descending
My acting scene(s) in Orpheus Descending
Not Safe For Work. Tennessee Williams is my favorite American playwright. Orpheus Descending is not his best work, but I still like it. I play the redneck racist Sheriff Talbott.
I was born and raised in the South. I understand Tennessee Williams and the way he writes..
Trailer for Orpheus Descending (The Fugitive Kind – film adaptation)
This trailer is from the 1959 film adaptation The Fugitive Kind.
Background Information on Orpheus Descending
Orpheus Descending is a play by Tennessee Williams. It was first presented on Broadway in 1957 where it enjoyed a brief run (68 performances) with only modest success. It was revived on Broadway in 1989, directed by Peter Hall and starring Vanessa Redgrave and Kevin Anderson. The production ran for 13 previews and 97 performances.
The play is a rewrite of an earlier play by Williams called Battle of Angels, which was written in 1940. Williams wrote the character of Myra Torrance for Tallulah Bankhead, but she turned down the role, saying “The play is impossible, darling, but sit down and have a drink with me.” The production premiered on Broadway the same year, starring Miriam Hopkins.
It was the first produced play written by Williams and by his account it “failed spectacularly”. Battle of Angels remained un-produced in New York for 34 years, until the Circle Repertory Companyopened their sixth season with it in 1974, directed by Marshall W. Mason.
When Orpheus Descending appeared in 1957, Williams wrote: “On the surface it was and still is the tale of a wild-spirited boy who wanders into a conventional community of the South and creates the commotion of a fox in a chicken coop. But beneath that now familiar surface it is a play about unanswered questions that haunt the hearts of people and the difference between continuing to ask them…and the acceptance of prescribed answers that are not answers at all.”
Dolly and Beulah, two gossiping housewives, tell each other that Jabe Torrance has just had surgery in Memphis but is dying. Carol Cutrere comes in a little later and Val, a roaming singer and musician, comes into the general store. Carol flirts with Val, insisting she has met him before in New Orleans, but he denies any prior knowledge of her. Lady agrees to hire Val as a clerk.
After a few weeks, Val tells Lady about his wild past in New Orleans and admits that he once knew Carol. When David enters the store, Lady tells David that she aborted his child when he left her. Val and Vee are talking about her painting when Vee’s husband, Talbot, catches him kissing her hand. Lady allows Val to stay at the store, but Val steals money from the cashbox when she leaves to get linens for the bed. Val returns the money and wants to leave, but Lady begs him to stay.
On Easter, Jabe tells Lady he was responsible for her father’s death and has a hemorrhage. At sunset, Vee says she has been blinded by a vision of the risen Christ and Val is yelled at by Vee’s husband for helping her up. Vee’s husband, Sheriff Talbot, tells him he has until sunset to get out of town.
Val is ready to leave but Lady tries to stop him. She tries to get the nurse to kill her husband with a lethal dose of morphine, but the nurse will not. Then Lady tells Val she is happily pregnant with his child, and tells Val she looks forward to a new life because of this.
Both walk about the newly decorated refreshment emporium adjoining the store, symbolizing the promise of a new start. As Val and Lady embrace, Val looks up to see that Jabe has torn a hole through his floor, and thus through the ceiling of the emporium, and is throwing coal oil into the place, setting it on fire while yelling out the upstairs window that Val has set the place on fire and is “robbing the place.”
Lady escapes through the door of the emporium and heads up the stairs towards Jabe’s room yelling “No Jabe, no!” whereupon Jabe shoots Lady on the stairway. As Lady dies, the local sheriff and fire squad break through the front door, and seeing Val trying to get out of the emporium, open their water hoses full force in an ultimately successful attempt to push him back into the burning building, thus murdering him. Lady calls out for him while dying from her husband Jabe’s gunshots.
In the final scene Carol (Woodward) is seen walking in the remains of the burnt out emporium while another transient looks about and discovers Val’s snakeskin jacket. Carol trades a gold ring for the jacket and offers a soliloquy on “the fugitive kind.”
Thank you to Director Walter Niejadlik for molding my performance. Thank you to Tenessee Williams for giving me such great words to say and actions to do.
I look forward to working with you all again SOON!