A House Not Meant to Stand by Tennessee Williams

  Williams meant for the dialogue of the spectral children—as well as that of the apparition of Chips which shows Bella where the money is hidden—to be prerecorded and heard through a sound system in the theater. In the original Goodman production, the child actor who played the “young Chips” at the end of the play also performed as the ghostly apparition of Chips in the earlier scene. In a production of A House Not Meant to Stand produced at the Southern Repertory Theater in 2004 by the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, the challenge of the apparitions was handled somewhat differently. In New Orleans, they cast three children‚ plus an adult to play the apparition of Chips. The latter choice allowed for a “real” ghost by visually projecting the idea that the recently deceased Chips has come back to help his mother. The actors cast as the adult Chips and the three children filmed their respective scenes on the set without the other actors, so that the footage could be projected during performance onto the scrim in front of the dining room area. In this way, the shouts and dialogue of the spectral children were heard from all around the theater and then, on film, they appeared to be with Bella, and later sitting right with her at the table, holding hands together while they all said grace. This was very effective and probably solved other problems involved with child actors entering and exiting the scenes, and staying up late.

  As has been noted in the Introduction, Cornelius was the name of Williams’s father, Cornelius Coffin Williams. It seems Williams did even more picking from the family tree when considering character names for A House Not Meant to Stand. C.C. Williams had two sisters, Isabel and Ella, whose names combine to make Bella. It is also worth noting that the maiden name of the character Bella Dancie McCorkle, is not a far stretch from the maiden name of Williams own mother, Edwina Estelle Dakin. According to the Williams family tree prepared by Richard F. Leavitt and Allean Hale for the Norton paperback edition of Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams by Lyle Leverich, Williams’s paternal grandmother was the daughter of Francis McCorkle whose wife, Isabel Sevier, was a direct descendent of the famous Valentine Sevier (nephew of Jesuit missionary Saint Francis Xavier), after whom the character of Valentine Xavier was named in Battle of Angels and Orpheus Descending.


  I first approached Gregory Mosher about my interest in A House Not Meant to Stand in the spring of 2001, and he has been supportive, discerning, and immensely encouraging ever since—and as a bonus, he is a superb storyteller. I would like to thank Gregory for his contribution to this volume, and point out, as he would not, that his patience and his faith in Williams are in fair measure responsible for the author’s completion of this play.

  The staff of the Goodman Theatre was responsive and friendly about any question I had for them, there were many, and they supplied enough research material that it arrived in two good-sized boxes. My gratitude goes to Roche Schulfer, Managing Director, Robert Falls, Artistic Director, Steve Scott, Amber Hilgenkamp, and Erin Moore, as well as to Sarah Welshman of the Chicago Public Library. Members of the original production staff, stage manager Joseph Drummond and set designer Karen Schulz Gropman, kindly went over aspects of the 1982 production, and their input has helped to make the text of this edition accurate. Karen Gropman also lent me her file on House that contains photographs, programs, and reviews. Members of the original cast, Scott Jaeck, who played Charlie in all three productions, and Cynthia Baker who played Stacey, conveyed memories of their experiences and what it was like to work with Tennessee Williams. So did Peg Murray, who shared her reflections on playing the role of Bella at the Goodman and also her love of Williams, her passion for his genius, and her memories of creating roles in three of his plays.

  The doyenne of Williams scholars, Allean Hale, has been expectedly generous and gracious, lending me first reading copies of Some Problems for the Moose Lodge and The Dancie Money, answering various questions, and sharing her considered opinions. I am also grateful to Williams scholars Nicholas Moschovakis, Annette J. Saddik and John S. Bak, who have been helpful with insights, questions, and moral support, and to Williams scholar Philip C. Kolin who invited me to write a chapter on this play for his volume, The Undiscovered Country, The Later Plays of Tennessee Williams. I have been fortunate to work with others from the community of Williams scholars over many years, and I am grateful for their input and exchanges, formal and informal, on this and many other projects: Jack Barbera, Robert Bray, George Crandell, Colby Kullman, Al Devlin, Kenneth Holditch, the late Lyle Leverich, Brenda Murphy, Michael Paller, Barton Palmer, Brian Parker, David Roessel, Nancy Tischer, and Ralph Voss.

  This is an opportunity to thank those who have been generous with their time and expertise on a variety of Williams-related projects, and I am happy to acknowledge Tom Erhardt and Georges Borchardt, theatrical and literary agents, respectively, for the University of the South, heirs to the Estate of Tennessee Williams who graciously authorized this publication; my friend Paul J. Willis, Patricia Brady, Elizabeth Barron, Doug Brantley, among many others, from the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival; Mark Cave, Curator of Tennessee Williams Manuscripts at the Historic New Orleans Collection; Genie Guerard, Head of the Manuscripts Division at the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections; Richard Workman, Research Librarian at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin; the late Richard Freeman Leavitt, the late Eve Adamson, Michael Raines, David Kaplan, Jeremy Lawrence, John Uecker, Scott Kenan, Panny Mayfield, David Landon, Randy Gener‚ Fred Todd, Pamela Beatrice, Jef Hall-Flavin, Andreas Brown‚ Michael Kahn, Donna Pierce, Margaret Bradham Thornton, Dan Isaac, William Jay Smith, David Cuthbert, Edward Albee, Anne Jackson, Eli Wallach, John Guare, Lanford Wilson, John Lahr, John Waters, Rodrigo Corral, Sylvia Frezzollini Severance, Griselda Ohannessian, and Peter Glassgold. On a more personal note I want to thank Barbara Epler, Declan Spring, and all my colleagues at New Directions, as well as Nancy Keith and Arturo Noguera.

  My deepest gratitude goes to New Directions president and publisher, Peggy L. Fox, who worked closely with Tennessee Williams and from 1977 has been his primary editor. Since 1988 Peggy has allowed me to contribute in small and large ways to the publication of Tennessee Williams’s works by New Directions, and ten years ago she entrusted me with editing this volume. I am indebted to Peggy for her confidence and friendship.

  Copyright © 2008 The University of the South

  Copyright © 2008 New Directions Publishing Corporation

  Foreword copyright © 2008 by Gregory Mosher

  Introduction and notes copyright © 2008 by Thomas Keith

  All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted in a newspaper, magazine, radio, or television review, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the Publisher.

  CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that A House Not Meant to Stand being fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth including the Dominion of Canada, all countries of the Berne Convention, and of all other countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations, is subject to royalty. All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio and television broadcasting, video or sound recording, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as CD-ROM, CD-I, information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are expressly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid on the question of readings, permission for which must be secured from the agent for The University of the South, Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Limited, National House, 60-66 Wardour St., London W1V 3ND, England.

  A House Not Meant to Stand is published by special arrangement with The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee.

nbsp; The epigraph from “The Second Coming” by Williams Butler Yeats, copyright 1921, published by Macmillan Company, 1956.

  Cover and front matter design by Rodrigo Corral

  Text design by Sylvia Frezzolini Severance

  Frontispiece photo by Karen Schulz Gropman

  Manufactured in the United States of America

  First published as New Directions Paperbook 1105 in 2008

  Published simultaneously in Canada by Penguin Canada Books, Ltd.

  eISBN 978-0-8112-2635-6

  New Directions Books are published for James Laughlin

  by New Directions Publishing Corporation

  80 Eighth Avenue, New York, New York 10011



  Tennessee Williams, A House Not Meant to Stand

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