Roberta Maxwell: You Reel From The Effect

Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
New Orleans 

I cannot remember when I first became enchanted with Roberta Maxwell. My fascination with her is like my ability to tell time or to enjoy the taste of lemons: It seems always to have been with me. I do know that I saw her in Equus, which I attended to be with Marian [Seldes] again, and it was Marian who urged me to see Roberta in Ashes a couple of years later, a performance I still maintain to be one of the finest I have ever witnessed. I believe that Marian called it shattering, and I would agree. Roberta is a dangerous actress, in the sense that Kim [Stanley] and Gerry [Page] are dangerous: something real and big and important is always imminent in her work, and you never see the effort--you only reel from the effect.

Dear Joan Hackett called and wrote to ask that I see her in Mourning Becomes Electra, and I saw it, but I only recall seeing Roberta--driven, demonic, regal, so beautiful: A knife of talent and intensity tearing through all that dramatic silk woven by [Eugene] O'Neill.

There will be time, I hope, for me to work with her. We have the right mutual friends; we have, I think, the same goals, the same dreams. We just have to get in the same room, on the same stage.

Another reason to get up in the morning.

© 2014 James Grissom


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