My friend Joe Besecker has a play running at NCTC, where it’s kind of hard to believe he hasn’t been produced before. Joe’s been a mainstay of San Francisco theater for 20 years, with ten of his twenty-five plays having been produced in the Bay Area over the years. You might have seen his Best of Fringe plays The Way Light Strikes Filled Mason Jars, Paper Dolls or Loving Fathers.
His most-produced play, including a nine-month Ovation Award-nominated run in Los Angeles, is Tennessee in the Summer. It takes place in 1972, when Tennessee Williams was struggling to rewrite his latest play. Williams sweats over a typewriter while a woman in a slip — not unlike Maggie from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof — complains that he should give up and have fun with her. When a hustler appears and she introduces herself as Tennessee Williams, it becomes clear that this is not a straightforward biography play, but rather an ultra-theatrical exploration of a playwright’s conflicted mind.
Joe has a wonderful sense of rhythm in his dialogue. I’ve seen him in rehearsals with his eyes closed, listening to the way the words flow as if it was music. With this play, he’s also channeling the poetry of Williams, so the rhythm and the music are even more evident.
Christopher Jenkins directs a lovely cast, including Dale Albright as Tennessee, Alex Alexander as The Woman, Annamarie Macleod as Rose (Tenn’s sister who was the inspiration for Laura) as well as his mother, and Jeremy Forbing as several of Tenn’s lovers/distractions.
The Walker Theatre is a tiny one in the New Conservatory complex, so there aren’t a lot of seats. But the play’s also been extended, so you may have a chance to sneak in. It was sold out the night I saw it, and the next night, and the next night, so if you’re interested, jump quick.