Orpheus Descending

Orpheus Descending

Orpheus Descending

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Orpheus Descending is a play by Tennessee Williams. It was first presented on Broadway in 1957 where it enjoyed a brief run with only modest success. The play is basically a rewrite of an earlier play by Williams called Battle of Angels, which was written in 1940, but had been closed on its opening night in Boston due to a stage fire. Battle of Angels remained un-produced in New York for 34 years, until the Circle Repertory Company opened their sixth season with it in 1974.

When Orpheus Descending appeared in 1957, Williams wrote, "n the surface it was and still is the tale of a wild-spirited boy who wanders into a conventional community of the South and creates the commotion of a fox in a chicken coop. But beneath that now familiar surface it is a play about unanswered questions that haunt the hearts of people and the difference between continuing to ask them...and the acceptance of prescribed answers that are not answers at all."

The play is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek Orpheus legend and deals, in the most elemental fashion, with the power of passion, art, and imagination to redeem and revitalize life, giving it new meaning. The story is set in a dry goods store in a small southern town marked, in the play, by conformity, sexual frustration, narrowness, and racism. Into this scene steps Val, a young man with a guitar, a snakeskin jacket, a questionable past, and undeniable animal-erotic energy and appeal. He gets a job in the dry goods store run by a...
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