This show was produced from October 21 — November 6, 2011
Suddenly Last Summer
By Tennessee Williams
Directed By Connie Norwood
Lee Kiszonas • Emily Letts • Rob Hargraves • Susan Dewey • John Nagy • Helen O’Rourke • Gina Vitolo-Stevens
“Those monologues sure give a gal a chance to show off, and in this production, directed at a rolling boil by Connie Norwood, in Robert Bingaman’s lush garden setting, the gals – steel magnolia Violet Venable (Lee Kiszonas) and her fiery, fragile niece Catherine (Emily Letts) – tear each other apart with a well-matched, carnivorous fury.”
— Wendy Rosenfield
It’s 1936, in the Garden District of New Orleans. Mrs. Violet Venable, an elderly socialite widow from a prominent local family, has invited a doctor to her home. She talks nostalgically about her son Sebastian, a poet who died under mysterious circumstances in Spain the previous summer. During the course of their conversation, she offers to make a generous donation to support the doctor’s psychiatric research if he will perform a lobotomy on Catharine, her niece, who has been confined to St. Mary, a private mental asylum at her expense since returning to America. Mrs. Venable is eager to “shut her up” once and for all, as she continues to “babble” about Sebastian’s violent death and “smash” her son’s reputation by hinting at his homosexuality.
Catharine arrives, followed by her mother and brother. They are also eager to suppress her version of events since Mrs. Venable is threatening to keep Sebastian’s will in probate until she is satisfied, something Catharine’s family can’t afford to challenge. But the doctor injects Catharine with a truth serum and she proceeds to give a scandalous account of Sebastian’s moral dissolution and the events leading up to his death, how he used her to “procure” young men for his sexual exploitation, and how he was set upon, mutilated and partially “devoured” by a mob of starving children in the street. Mrs. Venable launches herself at Catharine but she is prevented from striking her with her cane and taken off stage, screaming “cut this hideous story from her brain!”. Far from being convinced of her insanity, however, the doctor believes her story could, in fact, be true.
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Funding has been made possible in part by the Camden County Cultural & Heritage Commission at Camden County College, through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.