Director’s Note

I have only one major theme for all of my work, which is the destructive impact of society on the sensitive nonconformist individual. Tennessee Williams

The play is set in Glorious Hill, Mississippi in a year shortly before the First World War. Our “nightingale” is Alma Winemiller. Her parents are the dour unsuccessful minister of the local Episcopal Church and his crazy wife. For a very long time she has been in love with her neighbor John Buchanan.

As a nightingale Alma is “a small, unseen bird singing its heart out in the darkness…” The nightingale’s song touches something deeply mortal—and immortal—in all of us. Williams once said “I am Alma.”

The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, first appeared as a short story (The Yellow Bird), then became a short-lived Broadway play as Summer and Smoke (26 performances) in 1948. Williams completely revised and rewrote it and offered it “as a better play” to the London producers of Summer and Smoke; his offer was rejected. Eccentricities premiered on Broadway in 1976 for another brief run. It was then produced and filmed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It is still rarely produced.

Williams’ plays have been seen by scholars and critics as “allegories of good and evil,” “illusion versus reality,” “Freud versus Jung”, “spirit versus flesh,” “fire versus ice,” and “exercises in gender distinctions”…

My view is simpler. As described by Clive Barnes “The play is a straightforward conflict of two people---one hot and one cold, a woman at base nervously confident, and a man at base confidently nervous.” These two characters, the warm-hearted ugly duckling and the gentle, reserved mother’s boy are complex and credible enough to satisfy the most jaded among us. Think the Gentleman Caller meets Blanch Dubois.

We had an exciting and rewarding time creating this production. I hope you get as much from it we have had.