Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University Performs at Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival

Heidi Toth

September 26, 2016

Tennessee Williams Festival

More than 20 Texas Tech students joined professor Mark Charney at the festival and associated scholars institute in Massachusetts.

Kirche, Küche, Kinder
Kirche, Küche, Kinder opened to a sold out house.
The "outrage for the stage" was close to Williams' vision for the show, they used the original 1979 first draft of the play - as seen in this picture.

Photo courtesy: Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

A play about church, the kitchen and children doesn't seem like one director Mark Charney would call outrageous satire and full of dark humor.

Then American playwright Tennessee Williams made it his own in "Kirch, Küche, Kinder" ("Church, Kitchen, Children" in German). The one-act play, written in 1979 and touted as "satire with songs," hasn't been performed since Williams wrote it. Until now.

This weekend (Sept. 22-25), Charney and a troupe from the School of Theatre & Dance at Texas Tech University performed "Kirch, Küche, Kinder (An Outrage for the Stage)" at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival in Massachusetts. It was the first time a university was invited to perform at the annual festival.

"Texas Tech was selected because of our long-standing relationship with the Tennessee Williams Institute, our commitment to excellence, our understanding of the festival mission and our relationship with the artists there," said Charney, who is director of the School of Theatre & Dance.

In addition to the performance, nine graduate students joined Charney at the Tennessee Williams Institute (TWI), held in conjunction with the festival every year. Charney was part of the team that founded TWI five years ago. He takes students every year so they can learn more about Williams who as a creative writer continually experimented with his writing and determine how actors, directors and creators continue to experiment with Williams' work.

with Brian Dennehy
Students were able to work with actor Brian Dennehy, on scenes from "The Iceman Cometh" for which he won his second Tony award.

Photo courtesy: Texas Tech University School of Theatre & Dance

"In many ways he was ahead of his time and was dismissed for it," said David Kaplan, curator of the festival. "Our performances offer exciting and pioneering approaches to his work that turn plays thought impossible to understand into theatrical excitement that audiences embrace. Our aim is to transform the way our best American playwright is perceived by audiences and scholars alike."

The students had the opportunity to watch performances of Williams' work, some of which has not been performed publicly for decades, if ever, and discuss the performances and the playwright with actors, directors, scholars, critics and each other. Attendance opens up new ideas and opportunities, Charney said.

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