(Isherwood’s article ran in The New York Times, 2/9.)
WHEN the curtain fell on Broadway on the last night of “The Night of the Iguana” in September 1962, it would have been impossible for anyone to foresee what the next two decades would bring for its author, Tennessee Williams. Though possessed of an imagination as gothic as anyone’s, Williams probably could never have fathomed how grim the last acts of his career would become.
Since his breakthrough in 1944 with “The Glass Menagerie,” Williams had been a central pillar of Broadway, at the time near the center of American culture. In the years that followed his initial renown, he wrote almost a dozen plays, including a handful of commercial and critical successes that remain staples of the modern repertory. In March 1962 Time magazine put Williams on its cover, calling him the country’s greatest living playwright.