The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival is pleased to announce its annual dinner will return on Saturday, June 1, 2019. The gala will be held at Town Hall in Provincetown to support the organization’s 14th annual Festival, which will run from September 22-29, 2019. Festival passes are now on sale at twptown.org.

The 2019 Festival program promises unconventional theater from America and Japan. The program will feature plays by Tennessee Williams and the provocative Japanese author Yukio Mishima.

In Japan, Yukio Mishima achieved a level of celebrity comparable to that of Williams in America. He wrote sixty-two plays, as well as thirty-four novels and twenty-five books of short stories.

The 2019 Festival will present pairings of plays by Williams and Mishima in different styles. Planning for this year goes back to 2014, when the Festival presented plays by Williams alongside plays by four of his friends and peers: William Inge, Jane Bowles, Carson McCullers, and Yukio Mishima.

“In that 2014 lineup, Mishima’s work was, surprisingly, the crowd-pleaser,” says Kaplan. “In our production from South Africa of Mishima’s eerie play The Lady Aoi, a seaside vacation that seemed scary when you read about it turned sexy in performance.”

Mishima’s wide-ranging works include traditional Kabuki written in verse, modern realistic plays, parodies, satires, and propaganda plays, says Kaplan. “He wrote a campy three-act play that resembles 1950s/early ’60s film noir, which meant balancing horror and humor with suspense. He took austere traditional Noh plays and modernized them enough to take place on a park bench or in a hospital room.”

In 1957 and 1958, just as he met Mishima, Williams entered what might be called a Japanese phase. Japanese theater forms turn up overtly in The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, Suddenly Last Summer, The Night of the Iguana, And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens,Will Mr. Merriwether Return from Memphis?, and The Day on Which a Man Dies. This period of Japanese influence ran for a dozen years, up to 1970, the year Mishima died.

Photo credit: “The Lady Aoi” photo by Fiona MacPherson