“Suddenly, Last Summer” Continues Wide-Ranging Tennessee Williams Centennial Festival at Georgetown University

Williams’s haunting one-act runs April 7-17 at the Davis Performing Arts Center

Washington, D.C. – Georgetown University Theater and Performance Studies Program, which The Washington Post says “in recent years has established itself as the region’s most imaginative academic outpost for drama,” presents “Suddenly, Last Summer,” directed by Professor Maya E. Roth as part of the expansive Tennessee Williams Centennial Festival. The show runs at the Davis Performing Arts Center’s Devine Studio Theatre on Georgetown’s main campus April 7-17 (showtimes below).

Set in the Garden District of 1930s New Orleans and called “one of Williams’s wildest, most richly (and tightly) written Gothic” plays by the New York Times, “Suddenly, Last Summer” unfolds as a shocking mystery, probing the haunting death of a poet visiting Europe with his cousin, a young woman now charged as insane. Creative and destructive forces collide in Williams’ controversial, expressionistic play which probes the violence of human nature with charismatic characters and poetic force. At selected performances, the production will be paired with resonant excerpts from Williams’ own writings on memory and yearning.

The play is best known for inspiring the star-studded 1959 film version with Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift. However the movie airbrushed the play, censoring the central wealthy character’s gayness, changing the story’s outcome to a happy ending, and rendering it an entirely different work. People who have only seen the movie will have a radically different experience with this immersive production.

Roth, who is also director of Georgetown’s Theater and Performance Studies Program, says that this concentrated one-act play is a meditation on the violence we do to each other in families and society —even where there is love. “It’s propelled by the violent death of a young, gifted, gay poet, and the ripples of grief and trauma across his family, as they deny the atrocities of his death and the complex reasons for it. But there’s also another trauma… Williams wrote this in response to his sister’s lobotomy, a sentence which hovers over the one person who insists on “telling the truth.” At its core, Suddenly insists on the power of desire, the prevalence of violence, and the role of art to renew us.

The production features set design by resident faculty artist Debra Kim Sivigny, costume design by Frank Labovitz, lighting design by Justin Keenan Miller (COL ’11), sound design by Roni Lancaster, and an ensemble cast of seven advanced Georgetown theater students.
Showtimes for Suddenly, Last Summer include the following:

Thursday-Saturday, April 7-9, 2011 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 10, 2011 at 2 p.m.
Thursday and Friday, April 14 and 15, 2011 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 16, 2011 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 17, 2011 at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices are as follows:

Fri/Sat Evening Only: $18 general / $15 faculty, staff, alumni, senior / $10 student
All Other Performances: $15 general / $12 faculty, staff, alumni, senior / $7 student

To order or for more information, visit or call (202) 687-ARTS (2787) Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Georgetown University’s main campus is located at 3700 O St. NW, in Washington, D.C. “Suddenly, Last Summer” is part of the Georgetown University Theater and Performance Studies Program’s 2010-11 “A Season Named Desire,” which is generously supported by C74.

Maya E. Roth serves as Director of the Theater & Performance Studies Program at Georgetown University and was the founding Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center (2005–07). She is internationally recognized for her scholarly and creative expertise on the plays of Timberlake Wertenbaker. Her recent scholarship appears in Theatre Topics, Theatre Journal and anthologies such as Feminist Theatrical Revisions of Classic Texts, The Senses in Performance, and Crucibles of Culture in Anglophone Drama. Since 2007, she has stewarded the national Jane Chambers Contest for Women Playwrights. Favorite directing-dramaturgy includes Charles Mee’s Big Love, Wertenbaker’s The Grace of Mary Traverse, Beckett’s Rockaby, the San Francisco Premiere of Sherry Kramer’s David’s Red-Haired Death, and Caryl Churchill’s Vinegar Tom, as well as workshop stagings of Naomi Wallace’s The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek and Christine Evans’ Trojan Barbie early in their production lives. A frequent respondent to DC theater, she received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley with honors. Maya is one of five faculty-in-residence at Georgetown. Her next project is directing the reading of “A Delicate Balance” as part of the Edward Albee festival at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.

Georgetown University Theater and Performance Studies Program integrates creative and critical inquiry, emphasizing artistic excellence, interdisciplinary learning, a commitment to social justice, and the spirit of collaboration. With a dynamic major in Theater and Performance Studies, the Program features a nationally recognized faculty, including leading scholar/artists, and many of the region’s leading professional theater practitioners. One of the country’s only undergraduate programs in Theater and Performance Studies, this fast-growing program has rapidly attracted significant national attention for its distinctive curriculum, reflecting the political and international character of Georgetown, and for its high-quality, cutting-edge student production seasons. Through the Davis Center, the Program foregrounds new work development, classics re-visioned, interdisciplinary programming, and collaboration across faculty, students and guest artists.

A partial and rapidly growing list of theatrical luminaries who have worked with Georgetown students includes: Quinn Bauriedel, Theodore Bikel, Irina Brown, The Civilians, Dan Conway, Nilo Cruz, Peter DiMuro, David Dower, Joe Dowling, Olympia Dukakis, David Edgar, Rick Foucheux, Michael Friedman, Marcus Gardley, Ed Gero, Danny Hoch, David Henry Hwang, Moises Kaufman, Liz Lerman, Emily Mann, Sister Helen Prejean, Heather Raffo, Clint Ramos, Stephen Richard, Ari Roth, Christopher Sivertsen, Molly Smith, Tony Taccone, Irina and Paata Tsikurishvili, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Charles Randolph Wright, Karen Zacarias, and Mary Zimmerman.
The Tennessee Williams Centennial Festival (Tenn Cent Fest) is presented by Georgetown University Theater and Performance Studies Program, in partnership with the American Studies Program and Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Bookended by Moises Kaufman’s staged reading of “One Arm” at Georgetown in December and the run of “The Glass Menagerie” and surrounding events at Arena Stage June 9-July 3, this multifaceted festival celebrates Williams’ indelible legacy on the occasion of his 100th birthday. The festivities have also included a special Centennial Weekend Celebration (March 24-27, 2011) held at venues on Georgetown University’s main campus, including fully staged productions, interactive multimedia experiences, workshops, concerts, panels, discussions, and readings — bringing together work by many of the leading professionals from around the world and across D.C. with Georgetown students and faculty. The festival appeals to both aficionados of Williams and those new to his work alike, offering fresh perspectives on Williams’ established classics as well as rarely performed experimental and neglected works. Tenn Cent Fest is made possible by the generous support of the Georgetown University American Studies Program and C74.