It’s easy for actors to wring passion and anguish out of Tennessee Williams’ writing. His plays shifted the style of American theater. He wrote characters that were misfits and outcasts. He stirred up issues that were often taboo in his time: homosexuality, lust, depression and other “mental illnesses.” Actors such as Marlon Brando, Vivian Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman immortalized his steamy and animalistic scenes on film. Williams drew heavily on his own life as inspiration, navigating tempestuous relationships and battling substance abuse even as he rigorously created his art.
For Candelaria, it’s an exciting opportunity to play the role. He says he’s always loved Williams but never expected to be cast in a work by him, let alone as Williams himself. “Typically I’m cast in browner characters, if you will.” He researched meticulously, poring over biographies, films, plays, short stories and anything else he could get his hands on. He says he wanted to learn everything he could about Williams and the circle of friends in which he moved.
“He worked compulsively, he drank compulsively, he smoked compulsively, he took pills compulsively, he had sex compulsively.”
Briseño says the play is a great opportunity to see the relationship between two people who are very passionate about each other. They’re also two big personalities, one of whom is legendary. “It’s Tennessee Williams for heaven’s sake,” Briseño says. “Here you have this phenomenal playwright with this phenomenal writing. Why don’t you come see where he got a lot of his influences from?”