Vieux Carre

Theater

Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams's Vieux Carré is not emotion recollected in tranquility but emotion re-created with all the pain, compassion, and wry humor of the playwright's own 1938 sojourn in the New Orleans French Quarter vividly intact. The drama takes its form from the shifting scenes of memory, and Williams's surrogate self invites us to focus, in turn, on the various inhabitants of his dilapidated rooming house in the Vieux Carré––the comically desperate landlady, Mrs. Wire; Jane, a properly brought up young woman from New York making a last grab at pleasure with the vulgar but appealing strip-joint barker, Tye; two decayed gentlewomen politely starving in the garret; and the dying painter Nightingale, who tries to teach the young writer something about love––both of the body and of the heart. This is a play about the education of an artist, an education in loneliness, despair, giving and not giving, but most of all in seeing, hearing, feeling, and learning that "writers are shameless spies," who pay dearly for their knowledge and who cannot forget.