Tennessee Williams’ Legacy at 100

Tennessee Williams [Central Press/Getty Images/NPR]

Tennessee Williams was born 100 years ago [Photo source: Central Press/Getty Images/NPR] NPR ’s tribute  includes memorable sound bites/quotations from the plays:

Even people who’ve never seen a Tennessee Williams play know his words — and the kinds of characters who speak them.

“Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” — Blanche Dubois, in A Streetcar Named Desire.

“Stella! … Stella!” — tough-guy Stanley Kowalski, filled with liquor and guilt, calling to his wife from the steamy streets of New Orleans in the same play.

Blanche is Stanley’s sister-in-law, a faded Southern belle at once attracted to and repulsed by the brute.

“He’s like an animal, has an animal’s habits,” she tells Stella. “There’s even something subhuman about him. Thousands of years have passed him right by and there he is — Stanley Kowalski, survivor of the Stone Age, bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle. And you, you here waiting for him. Maybe he’ll strike you, or maybe he’ll grunt and kiss you. That’s if kisses have been discovered yet.”

The observer of humankind who crafted those words, Thomas Lanier Williams, was born 100 years ago — on March 26, 1911 — in the Mississippi Delta town of Columbus. In a career that spanned half a century, he redefined what a play could do. He created some of the most remarkable characters in world drama in his more than 70 plays, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Rose Tattoo and The Night of the Iguana. He also wrote two novels, several collections of poetry and stories, and adapted many of his plays to the screen.

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