After the international success of ‘Kingdom of Earth’ and ‘The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore’, local theatre makers Abrahamse & Meyer Productions have been granted special permission by the Tennessee Williams Estate to adapt one of Williams’ most famous erotic short stories for the stage.
Written in 1942 and initially published in an expensive limited edition, ‘One Arm’ tells of an aspiring boxer who loses his arm in a car accident and turns to prostitution for a living. The young hustler violently murders a client and is sentenced to death for this crime. On death-row, he receives hundreds of letters from former clients explaining how deeply he touched their lives. Explicit and daring, ‘One Arm’ gives a graphic account of the homosexual underworld during 1940s while at the same time, being one of Williams’ most poignant portraits of a mutilated body and soul.
The production will be showcased at the Artscape Arena from August 28 to September 14.
Throughout his life Williams was excited by the dramatic potential of ‘One Arm’ and adapted it for the screen in the late 1960s, but the film was never produced. In 1972 Williams wrote that he conceived ‘One Arm’ “as a dark poem whose theme is the prevalence of mutilations among us all, and their possible transcendence.”
Abrahamse and Meyer have adapted ‘One Arm’ as two-hander focusing on the central relationship between the convicted hustler and a young Lutheran Minister who visits him on death row. Picking up on Williams’ themes of voyeurism, exhibitionism, and paraphilia the stage adaptation will utilise erotic fetishism and sexual role-play as a major dramatic devise in the play by having the young Lutheran Minister, voyeuristically act out all the various characters in mutilated boxer’s life-story.
Marcel Meyer will play Oliver Winemiller, the boxer turned hustler with Nicholas Dallas as the young Lutheran Minister. Meyer has received international accolades as a Williams leading man for his brooding performance as Chicken in ‘Kingdom of Earth’, as well as the Angel of Death in ‘The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore’, while Dallas won acclaimed for his performance of the Witch of Capri in ‘Milk Train’ and for his intense performance as Lot in ‘Kingdom of Earth’.
Multi award-winning Fred Abrahamse is responsible for the direction as well as the set and lighting design.
From his earliest plays to his final “outrages for the stage”, Tennessee Williams always envisaged “a new, plastic theatre… [to] take the place of the exhausted theatre of realistic conventions if the theatre is to resume vitality as a part of our culture.” Williams constantly pushed the boundaries of what theatre could be, not only through literary innovations but also by maximising the potential of theatre as a visual medium.
This adaptation will be in keeping with Williams’ concept of a “plastic theatre” with a non-linear structure and a strong visual presentation, transforming the stage of the Artscape Arena into an erotic dreamscape where this tragic tale unfolds.
* Tickets are R100 to R150, and can be booked at http://online.computicket.com/web/event/one_arm/812493612/0/59616757, or Artscape-Dail-a-Seat on 021 421 7695.