Williams' contributions to the stage -- and even to our daily vocabulary -- can't be emphasized enough. His penchant for airing the dirty laundry of the human condition "brought American drama to maturity," as theater critic Richard Gilman put it in The New York Times. His desperate, marginalized characters revealed the darker side of society, and his poetic imagery and lush language have resulted in some of American theater's most unforgettable characters and lines. His Southern belle-turned-nymphomaniac, Blanche DuBois of Streetcar, immortalized the line, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," and the many pop-culture references to Stanley Kowalski's "Stella? Stella!" bolster the play's fame.
Tenn in 2002! begins with The Long Goodbye, Williams' 1940 tale about a writer who must confront disturbing memories of his mother and sister to come to terms with his past. Generally understood as the forerunner to Menagerie -- their common themes include memory, moving on, and forgiveness -- Goodbye reveals how Williams first explored his dramatic voice. Of the 30-plus one-acts Williams penned during his career, it's the one most aspiring writers study, based on its clear dramatic structure and universal topics. Participants in Eastenders' new writers' workshop gathered over a period of eight weeks to analyze the play in detail, the result of which is Hello's the Word, presented as the second act of the evening. Its fresh, stimulating take on the original is a testament to Williams' enduring power.