Tennessee Williams: The Influence of Chekhov
Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
The influence of Chekhov is indisputable and large, but it was by second hands, if you will. What I mean is that I was far more influenced by movies--by George Stevens and William Wyler and [D.W.] Griffith, and [Cecil B.] deMille and Hawks before I ever had a Chekhov play in my hands. I learned narrative from wipes and cutting and a shift in focus by means of lighting, and all of this is true of Chekhov as well. Perhaps all good storytelling is Chekhovian--the madness of people forced together and making it palatable or sensual or terminal. Panic and peril in tight spaces. I may have learned the introduction of characters from the wings from Chekhov, the lingering that is life, but the violence, the sudden introduction of forces brutal and sexual, came from the movies, and I suppose you could say those movie makers owed a great deal to Chekhov.
© 2018 James Grissom