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Three-day symposium takes in-depth look at Tennessee Williams

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor
(217) 333-5491;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The University of Illinois theater department is hosting a three-day symposium, "Tennessee Williams: the Apprentice Plays," Nov. 2-4 in conjunction with the 21st century premiere of a Williams' early play, "Stairs to the Roof."

The symposium in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, will include presentations and panel discussions by Williams scholars from throughout the United States.

Among them will be Allean Hale, a UI adjunct theater professor and editor of the recently published New Directions edition of "Stairs to the Roof." Produced once, in 1947, at the Pasadena Playhouse, "Stairs to the Roof" is one of four unknown early plays by Williams that Hale has edited as part of a New Directions series.

According to Hale, these "apprentice plays," written before Williams' breakthrough play "The Glass Menagerie," reveal themes, characters and techniques that were eventually repeated in the playwright's more mature works. "Stairs to the Roof" is being restaged by the UI theater department, and will be presented Nov. 2-4 and 8-12 in Krannert Center's Studio Theater.

In addition to Hale, other symposium speakers will include the play's director, UI theater professor Tom Mitchell; UI theater professor Peter Davis and UI English professor Julia Walker; Nancy M. Tischler, professor emerita of English and humanities, Pennsylvania State University; independent dramaturg, scholar and theater director Dan Isaac; and Albert Devlin, professor of English, University of Missouri at Columbia.

The symposium is free and open to the public; advance registration is not required.

For more information, contact Keri Lenz in the UI theater department, (217) 244-6052; For performance tickets, call the Krannert Center ticket office, 333-6280.