The conventional reliance upon “memory,” the lyric subtleties of both writing and scenery, and the ubiquitous mood of emotional despair characterize three early Tennessee Williams plays — The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Summer and Smoke — and set them a part from the less “poetic” currents in the Williams canon. The plays are remarkably similar in organic configuration; their shape and texture reveal a theatrical form of considerable distinction. Although they gained articulate theatrical expression under three different directors, the scenery for all three was designed (in the “Broadway” productions) by Jo Mielziner, whose ideas have continued to influence subsequent productions. The unique fusion of the Williams-Mielziner artistry has given the American drama a consummate theatre aesthetic: a vision of dramatic life most subtle in its use of human values and most articulate in its visual definition of mood.
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