Anna Sokolow on CLOTHES FOR A SUMMER HOTEL: A Ghost Play

Kenneth Haigh and Geraldine Page as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald in Tennessee Williams' Clothes for a Summer Hotel.

Interview with Anna Sokolow
Conducted by James Grissom
New York City

It  [Clothes for a Summer Hotel] was a ghost play. A memory play with vapors. That's what Tennessee said, and that's what I set out to convey. I was a dance consultant, but Jose [Quintero] let me act as an assistant director. He let me get on the stage and move things around. He wasn't afraid of anything or anyone. He was very brave.

I liked the play. Did I think it was great? No. What's great? How many things are great? But was it worthy? Did it have something to say? Was there art in it? Yes. Yes to all.

Geraldine Page was a genius. She inhabited Zelda [Fitzgerald] as a diabetic full of fluid and delusion, wafting, wafting in dark corners. She could have been a great dancer--the way she could find corners, spaces, areas to be.

People don't die, really. We coast on their memories. We have their ghosts. People were mentioned in that play that I had loved or known or studied. People I wish I had known. I remember walking out of the theatre one night, into the lobby. The house wasn't full or happy or supportive. We were going to close. The reviews had been bad. Tennessee was very depressed. I was very angry. I was just going to walk right out and get a cab and go home and be angry about what was being done to Tennessee and his play and our times, but I saw Marian [Seldes] in the lobby, and she was crying. Her parents were mentioned in the play. They had been friends of the Fitzgeralds, and Geraldine had asked Marian for something, a token, a handkerchief, that had belonged to Marian's mother. "She brought my parents to the stage," Marian told me. "She and Tennessee raised them from the dead."

So I think the play has merits, by God.

©  2017  James Grissom


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