One-act plays by Tennessee Williams

HOUGHTON – Most people know Tennessee Williams through his works like “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “The Glass Menagerie” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” but over at The McArdle Theatre, tech students will be performing some of his lesser known one-acts, which include “The Case of the Crushed Petunias,” “Talk to Me Like Rain and Let Me Listen,” “The Pronoun I” and “The Chalky White Substance.”

Director Roger Held said he picked out some of the “oddball” plays of Williams that no one ever does and then arranged them in historical order from 1943, ’53, ’75 and ’81.

“We do them in chronological order and you can kind of see (Williams’) view of how the world goes to Hell in a handbasket,” Held said. “From hopeful when you’re young … to ‘My God, what a terrible place it is. There is no hope.'”

“Crushed Petunias” tells the story of the romantic hero who comes and makes a woman sees the light and she runs off with him.

“The Pronoun I” is about a mad Queen of England.

“Talk to Me Like Rain” features two people who are Southern white trash who move to the big city and their life is miserable. Yet they find through talking to one another a sense of comfort.

“(It’s about) the most deprived and lowest of southern classes of people and the way their society looks at them,” Held said.

The last show, “The Chalky White Substance,” is about the nature of power and relationships. It takes place in a world where we’ve destroyed ourselves through nuclear bombs.

There were many one-acts for Held to choose from, but Held managed to narrow it down to just four.

“You look at the practical things and the dramatic things and see what it is you can do,” Held said.

Held also said that those who come to see these four one-acts will be seeing something unique.

“People see the movies and the movies are of the great plays, so this is an opportunity for students and faculty to see something that is not what they’re ordinarily going to see,” Held said.

He also said the one-acts are a good teaching opportunity, as the shows have dialects and certain language structures that need to be learned.

“It’s a good play for actors to work on,” he said.

The one-acts are also allowing sound design students to get some hands-on experience.

“It’s a good learning vehicle for sound designers for music and sound effects,” Held said. “‘Talk to Me Like Rain’ has a rainstorm that goes on, it has music.”

All of the one-acts have heavy elements of sound.

The one-act plays begin at 7:30 p.m. tonight and run through Saturday. Tickets are $13 for adults, $8 for youth and free for Michigan Tech students with experience tech fee.