Tennessee Williams: BBC Radio Drama Collection

Five best plays
from archive.org

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams is one of the three most important American dramatists of the 20th century, alongside Arthur Miller and Eugene O'Neill. Acclaimed for their lyrical language, dark themes and vivid portrayal of the American South, Williams' works have spawned several Oscar-winning films and been translated and performed worldwide.

Collected here are some of his best, beginning with the play that launched Williams' career: The Glass Menagerie. Telling the story of a family in crisis in 1930s St Louis, it is one of his most autobiographical works, and a timeless evocation of lost love and loneliness. It stars Anastasia Hille, George MacKay, Patsy Ferran and Sope Dirisu.

Next up is his masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire. It stars Olivier Award-winning actress Anne-Marie Duff as damaged Southern belle Blanche Dubois, pushed to the brink of sanity by her explosive brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski (Matthew Needham).

It is followed by one of Williams' earliest plays, Spring Storm, about Heavenly Critchfield, a young woman forced to decide between a respectable suitor and a handsome, wild lover. Liz White stars as Heavenly, with Matthew Malarkey and Michael Thomson.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is set in the plantation home in the Mississippi Delta of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton tycoon; the play examines the relationships among members of Big Daddy's family, primarily between his son Brick and Maggie "the Cat", Brick's wife. Joss Ackland stars as Big Daddy, with Gemma Jones as Big Mama, Elizabeth McGovern as Maggie, Marcus D'Amico as Brick, Alison Steadman as Mae and Roy Dotrice as Rev Tooker.

Also included is a recording of the 1966 revival of The Rose Tattoo, which tells the story of Serafina Delle Rose, an Italian-American widow in Mississippi who has withdrawn from the world after her husband's death and expects her daughter to do the same. It stars Maureen Stapleton as Serafina Delle Rose, Harry Guardino as Alvaro Mangiacavallo, Maria Tucci as Rosa Delle Rose, Barbara Townsend as Miss Yorke and Christopher Walken as Jack Hunter.

Please note that the language and attitudes reflect the times that the plays were originally written. The audio quality is variable for some of the earlier recordings.

  1. The Glass Menagerie (92.4Mb)
  2. A Streetcar Named Desire (105.8Mb)
  3. Spring Storm (123Mb)
  4. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (108.7Mb)
  5. The Rose Tattoo (102.8Mb)

MP3 files hosted by archive.org.