Tennessee Williams Tribute

Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams (Photo Credit: The Southern Literary Trail)

From the March 2015 Desktop News | UA theatre students performed dramatic readings from the plays of Tennessee Williams March 2-3 as part of a tribute to Williams and his friendship with Dr. Marian Gallaway, longtime professor of theatre at UA. Gallaway and Williams met in 1938 and became lifelong friends.

The two-night tribute included performances in Demopolis and Tuscaloosa, including a performance in UA’s Marian Gallaway Theatre, which was named after Gallaway in 1976. The performances were sponsored by UA’s Department of Theatre and Dance and the Southern Literary Trail.

“It is most fitting that this tribute was hosted on the stage of the theatre named in Marian Gallaway’s honor,” said Bill Teague, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. “Marian Gallaway and Tennessee Williams met in 1938 and remained lifelong friends with Williams giving the surname ‘Gallaway’ to many of his characters. The Department of Theatre and Dance was delighted and privileged to co-sponsor this special evening with the Southern Literary Trail.”

Both performances were directed by Allison Hetzel, associate professor of voice and acting at UA. The Dempolis performance included a keynote address by Dr. Kenneth Holditch, author of “Tennessee Williams and the South” and professor emeritus of American literature at the University of New Orleans.

Dr. Edmond Williams, UA professor emeritus of theatre, joined Holditch to provide commentaries for the Tuscaloosa performance.

Marian Gallaway
Marian Gallaway (Photo Credit: University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama)

Tennessee Williams and Marian Gallaway met in 1938 at the University of Iowa, where Gallaway costumed Williams for a small role in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part I.” They remained friends and became lifelong correspondents.

Gallaway joined The University of Alabama faculty in 1947 and served as director of theatre until her retirement in 1973. UA’s Marian Gallaway Theatre was named for her in 1976. Galloway died in 1980 and left most of her estate to establish a new playwright’s fund at UA.

The performances were supported by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state agency of the National Endowment for the Humanities. They were presented as part of Trailfest 2015, the Southern Literary Trail’s biennial literary festival celebrated in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.

Additional sponsors in Demopolis included Friends of Gaineswood, the Canebrake Players, the Demopolis High School Tiger Arts Guild and other local groups.