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Worth the drive: Alabama tribute to Tennessee Williams explores Southern ties


Jan Swoope



Tennessee Williams' work was influenced by two relationships from Alabama. Those relationships and the Columbus-born playwright's work are the subject of two upcoming presentations -- one in Demopolis, Alabama, March 2, and one in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, March 3. Both feature University of Alabama theater and dance students.  


The March 2 performance begins at 6 p.m. in Demopolis, at Gaineswood, a National Historic Landmark. The Demopolis program features a keynote address by Dr. Kenneth Holditch, a retired professor emeritus of American Literature from the University of New Orleans and frequent lecturer at Columbus' annual Tennessee Williams Tribute. 


The March 3 event starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Marian Gallaway Theatre on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa. Admission is free to both presentations. 




Williams' Alabama ties 


In writing the foreward for "Contructing a Play" (1950), a book by his friend Marian Gallaway of Tuscaloosa, Williams recalled their days together as students at the University of Iowa and said, "Marian Gallaway was one of those persons who lived and breathed theater and somehow managed to infect her associates with her own religious excitement about it."  


In her book, Gallaway describes Williams' first stage success, "The Glass Menagerie," as "a play about himself and certain members of his family." That included his mother, Edwina Dakin of Columbus, whose sentimental view of the past may be recognized in the play's maternal character, Amanda Wingfield. Dakin's sentimental past included Gaius Whitfield of Demopolis, one of her "gentleman callers." These relationships are explored in the two programs. 


Both events are sponsored by the Universtiy of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance and The Southern Literary Trail, with grant support from the Alabama Humanities Foundation. The programs are part of Trailfest 2015, the Southern Literary Trail's biennial celebration throughout Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.  


For program details, visit, or contact the Literary Trail office, 205-297-8849.


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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