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Sweet Bird of Youth

Sweet Bird of Youth
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Tennessee Williams
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 72
Pub. Date: 1962
Edition: Acting
ISBN-10: 0822211041
ISBN-13: 9780822211044
Cast Size: 7 female, 15 male

About the Play:

Sweet Bird of Youth has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Female Monologues, Male Monologues, Female/Male Scenes and, Male/Male Scenes.

Sweet Bird of Youth is a full-length drama by Tennessee Williams. A local boy gone bad returns to his home town with an aging movie actress to reclaim his childhood sweetheart, but must face the brutal truth – lost innocence is impossible to resurrect but shame and regret live on forever.

Sweet Bird of Youth is a steamy and haunting portrait of a fading movie star and the desperate silver-screen wannabe. As New York Newsday describes: "Its two central characters are the Princess, an aging motion picture actress in flight from her latest screen disaster, and Chance Wayne, a young hustler whom she has picked up. Taking advantage of her drunkenness and his youth and good looks, he manages to lure her to the Southern town of his birth in order to see again a young girl with whom he has had an affair and whom he still loves. Word of his arrival spreads like contagion through the small town. Boss Finley, a political despot and father of the young girl, is especially interested. What Chance does not know is that unwittingly he has infected the girl and ever since the Boss, his sadistic son and his toadies have lain in wait for his return and for their revenge. Chance's scheme is to use the Princess to promote a motion picture career for himself and his girl. Naturally this falls afoul and in the end the avengers are about to close in on the passively waiting Chance, who has been deserted by his patroness and far worse, by his youth." Tennessee Williams' wrenching yet mordantly funny meditation on lost innocence and corruption reveals the dark consequences of the American search for perennial youth and fame. Chance Wayne, evokes an era of repressive social strictures where love, sexual passion and redemption are thwarted. Williams' theatrical language is thrilling, mesmerizing and quite beautiful.

Sweet Bird of Youth opened in 1959 on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York City and ran for 375 performances. The play has seen Broadway revivals in both 1975 and 2012, has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops, and has been mounted in regional repertory, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 7 female, 15 male

What people say:

"Once again a bolt of thunder has been hurled by that Jovian playwright, Tennessee Williams, and the theatre reverberates to its roar." — New York Newsday

"Tennessee Williams recently said something about getting tired of delivering blockbusters to Broadway, but he has certainly provided one in Sweet Bird of Youth … written with enormous dramatic drive…it is a play of overwhelming force." — New York Post

"…Despite the acrid nature of its material, Sweet Bird of Youth is Mr. Williams in a relaxed mood as a writer … Sweet Bird of Youth is one of his finest dramas." — New York Times

About the Playwright:

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), one of the 20th century's most superb writers, was also one of its most successful and prolific. He was born in Columbus, Mississippi, where his grandfather was the Episcopal clergyman. When his father, a travelling salesman, moved with his family to St. Louis some years later, both he and his sister found it impossible to settle down to city life. He entered college during the Depression and left after a couple of years to take a clerical job in a shoe company. He stayed there for two years, spending the evening writing. He entered the University of Iowa in 1938 and completed his course, at the same time holding a large number of part-time jobs of great diversity. He was awarded four Drama Critic Circle Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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