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Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)

keberoxu 12 Mar 17 - 02:33 PM
keberoxu 12 Mar 17 - 10:48 PM
Banjo-Flower 13 Mar 17 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,keberoxu 13 Mar 17 - 09:10 AM
keberoxu 13 Mar 17 - 09:31 AM
keberoxu 13 Mar 17 - 05:04 PM
Banjo-Flower 13 Mar 17 - 06:24 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 13 Mar 17 - 09:12 PM
Joe Offer 13 Mar 17 - 10:55 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 14 Mar 17 - 10:08 AM
keberoxu 14 Mar 17 - 05:15 PM
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Subject: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: keberoxu
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 02:33 PM

Has anyone seen this most unusual Tennessee Williams play?
I never have, but I have got my hands on the script; and have read a little about its history. It has never been made into a feature-length cinema/film. There have been some attempts at it through television.

This was written and premiered in the 1950's, a radical departure from the studies of the South associated with Williams; it is fantasy, allegory, like a morality play in a few spots. The critics were at a complete loss and most panned it. The audience, some of them anyway, were fascinated with the experience, and for some of the watchers it was life-changing -- especially those who went on to be actors, directors, playwrights themselves.

There are numerous snatches of incidental music. Mention on Mudcat has been confined to a thread on the song "Show Me The Way to Go Home."
Moreover, some of the mythical characters have musical associations. There is the tragic heroine Marguerite Gautier, referencing not only La Dame Aux Camelias but, inevitably, Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata. Marguerite is one of several roles with wonderful monologues.

The setting and the plot developments suggest that the play actually takes place in a kind of purgatory or limbo; some characters are long-time, ongoing residents there, while others come and go. Every so often there is the intrusion of a sort of totalitarian presence, through which characters are culled: a plane that carries people away only to crash at sea with no survivors; the Cleaners, who dispose of the dead and/or dying; a gate with high-level security and a guard force which communicates with an unseen dictator.

The phrase, "The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks," at the end before the curtain, was chosen as the epitaph to be displayed on Tennessee Williams' tomb.


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Subject: RE: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: keberoxu
Date: 12 Mar 17 - 10:48 PM

Another musical footnote:

Whistled, but not sung, is the tune of "La Golondrina," it is a way of communicating between people on the Camino when there are patrol guards trying to break up conversations.


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Subject: RE: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 06:58 AM

I appeared in an amateur production of this play in North Lincolnshire uk in 1969 as a charactor called Abdullah I must admit I did not understad any of it

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 09:10 AM

Thanks Gerry!

Abdullah: a young errand boy, if memory serves. He responds to directions by Marguerite Gautier at the hotel of Siete Mares (Seven Seas). Naturally you yourself would have been pretty young at the time.


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Subject: RE: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: keberoxu
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 09:31 AM

one of my favorite lines:

"Make voyages! Attempt them! There's nothing else!"

(a purgatory character manages to exit the Camino Real)


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Subject: RE: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: keberoxu
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 05:04 PM

and then there's the Gypsy.

The Gypsy is a hoot and a holler, all cynicism and world weariness. I think Kathy Bates would make a meal out of the role.


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Subject: RE: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 06:24 PM

Must admit I've not really thuoght much about it since 1969 but I think with hindsight the charactor I Played and the costume I wore would be considered very non PC now

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 09:12 PM

"For what is the heart
but a sort of instrument
that translates noise into music,
chaos into order
-- a mysterious order!"


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Subject: RE: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 10:55 PM

Which Camino Real is this? There's one here in California, and there's another in West Texas - New Mexico. I'm sure there are others. Where did Tennessee Williams set his play, and how does the Royal Highway fit in?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 14 Mar 17 - 10:08 AM

Bless you, Joe Offer! No, this is a FANTASY. I ought to look up Williams' copious narration/commentary in the play, and just quote it. The Internet is not helpful here, and what I can pull up is in little bits and pieces.

"....a tropical seaport that bears a confusing, but somehow harmonious, resemblance to such widely scattered ports as Tangiers, Havana, Veracruz, Shanghai, Casablanca, New Orleans. "

A battered old map, in the possession of a character who stumbles up to the gate, has a direction on it, which is read out loud as part of the dialogue.

"Continue until you come to the square of a walled town, which is
the end of the Ca-MI-no Re-AL, and the beginning of the CA-mi-no RE-al.
Halt there, and turn back, Traveler, for the spring of humanity has gone dry in this place, and there are no birds in the country except for wild birds that are tamed and kept in cages."

The play on accents/ languages is essential here. The proper name Camino Real is given twice. The first time, with a good Spanish accent, meaning the royal highway.
But the second time it has an Anglo accent, a la John Wayne.
And to my ear, Williams is making a pun out of the second word. It is the Spanish word for "royal," but it has a different pronunciation and meaning in English.

What transpires on this dilapidated town plaza, with its dried up fountain, is all dream and part nightmare, as there are some actions which are violent and nihilist. So this is a landscape of the mind and psyche, with no bearing on a historical Camino Real, I'm afraid.


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Subject: RE: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams)
From: keberoxu
Date: 14 Mar 17 - 05:15 PM

One character, one of the few that prevails through the chaos and despair of the CAmino REal, Don Quixote, offers this advice.

"Don't pity yourself!
The wounds of the vanity,
the many offenses our egos have to endure,
being housed in bodies that age and hearts that grow tired,
are better accepted with a tolerant smile
-- like this! you see?

Otherwise what you become is
a bag of curdled cream --
leche mala, we call it! --
attractive to nobody, least of all to yourself."


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