“Before My Clean Heart Has Grown Dirty …”

  • Michael Paller


Even with the relatively good, or at least not devastating, reception of Small Craft Warnings, things got no better for Williams as the 1970s wore on. 1973 saw another Williams play on Broadway, where it most certainly did not belong: Out Cry, a revision of The Two-Character Play, had been produced in London in 1967 and would be revised several more times, appearing in New York in 1975 as The Two-Character Play yet again. Out Cry was so personal a play as to be almost inscrutable to any-one not inside Williams’s mind. It was certainly beyond the ken of the Broadway audience who sat through it without comprehension for 12 performances. Its two characters, Felice and his sister Clare, are actor-managers who have been deserted by the rest of their company and find themselves locked in a theatre. They perform a play-within-a-play called The Two-Character Play, which concerns a brother and sister, named Felice and Clare, who are trapped inside the house they have lived in all their lives. Out Cry is an endless series of mirrors reflecting Williams’s many complex feelings toward his sister, Rose, and an increasing inability to turn the pain of his life into coherent art. Williams thought it was his best play since Streetcar.


Sexual Initiation Story Frame Young Writer Endless Series Sexual Impropriety 
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  1. 10.
    Harold M. Schmeck, Jr., “Psychiatrists Approve Change on Homosexuals.” New York Times, April 9, 1974, 12.Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    Al Carmines, “‘Politics is Not Art.’” New York Times, July 29, 1973 II, 12.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    Martin Duberman, “The Gay Life: Cartoon vs. Reality?” New York Times, July 22, 1973 II 1, 4.Google Scholar
  4. 16.
    Tennessee Williams, Vieux Carré in The Theatre of Tennessee Williams Vol. 8 (New York: New Directions, 1992), 65, 20, 30. Subsequent references are in the text.Google Scholar

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© Michael Paller 2005

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  • Michael Paller

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