I have only one major theme for my work, which is the destructive impact of society on the non- conformist individual.— TW to agent Audrey Wood, in a letter of December 1939 from St. Louis
I have a distinct moralist attitude. I wouldn't say message. I’m not polemical, but I have a distinct attitude toward good and evil in life and people. I think any of my plays examined closely will indicate what I regard as evil. I think I regard hypocrisy and mendacity as almost the cardinal sins. It seems they are the ones to which I am most hostile. I think that deliberate, conscienceless mendacity, the acceptance of falsehood and hypocrisy, is the most dangerous of all sins.— TW in conversation with William Burroughs, 1977
I am quite through with the kind of plays that established my early and popular reputation.— TW, Memoirs, 1975
I think Out Cry is […] influenced by Beckett.— Ruby Cohn (Bray, 2002, 29)
Tennessee Williams may never have been the playwright we thought he was, or, at least, there has always been a Tennessee Williams we knew and understood (or thought we did) and a Williams we didn’t. That division may be between early and late Williams, or between the Actors Studio Williams and a more poetical, lyrical Williams, or between, say, the Williams of A Streetcar Named Desire and the Williams of The Two- Character Play. He was, it seems, always more lyrically Chekov than grittily Zola. His sin, if sin at all, was to have peaked too soon, as Gordon Rogoff reminds us, and thereby to have raised expectations in his audiences and among those handlers on whom theater relies, often strangers upon whose kindness Williams, too, depended (Rogoff, 2000, 59).
Opening a roundtable discussion on Williams's late plays in 2002,1 however, Annette Saddik outlines a continuous thread between Williams's acknowledged successes and what we have come to think of as the later or lesser- known efforts:
As early as The Glass Menagerie, he said in the production notes that realism wasn't really for him, that all it did was reproduce surfaces, and that he wanted to get to a distorted reality, an inner truth.