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Suddenly Last Summer

a drama by Tennessee Williams

A grieving mother will do anything - even the unthinkable - to save the reputation of her son.

Department of Theatre & Drama

Arthur Miller Theatre

October 6 - 16, 2011


The Story: Once the only constant companion of her son Sebastian, Mrs. Violet Venable is distraught by his mysterious death abroad. Sebastian had spurned his mother’s companionship on his last trip, choosing instead to travel with his beautiful cousin Catharine. Since returning to New Orleans, Catharine’s rants about the trip have begun to tarnish Sebastian’s pristine reputation. In part jealous of her dismissal by her son for a younger woman, Violet is ruthlessly determined to protect his memory at any cost. She entreats the aid of Dr. Cukrowicz, a young surgeon specializing in the new field of lobotomy, promising generous funding for his research provided he perform one on Catharine. As the Doctor and Violet hear Catharine’s tale first hand, a mother’s illusion clashes with a grisly tale of sex and exploitation that may just be closer to the truth.

Background: Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Tennessee Williams would have turned 100 this year. Paired with Something Unspoken, Suddenly Last Summer debuted Off-Broadway in 1958 under the collective title Garden District. Critics immediately heralded Suddenly for its unique language and theatrical form. Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times declared, “Suddenly Last Summer is further evidence of Mr. Williams' genius with the language. No one else can use ordinary words with so much grace, allusiveness, sorcery and power… As an exercise that is both literary and dramatic, this brief, withering play is a superb achievement.” One of America’s most controversial and acclaimed dramatists, Williams’ once again evokes human’s capacity for violence in this gloriously harrowing play.

Recommended for ages 14 and over.


Tennessee Williams @ 100

Join the UM Department of Theatre & Drama as scholars, playwrights and theatre artists gather to share their perspectives on Tennessee Williams’ impact on American theatre, the American consciousness, and the world theatre, and his enduring influence on writers throughout the last century and continuing into the present one. Presented in conjunction with Suddenly Last Summer, the Tennesee Williams @ 100 conference is a celebration of the work of this prolific playwright. For more detailed information on the conference, please visit

Suddenly Last Summer poster

Artistic Staff

Director Philip Kerr
Scenic Designer Gary Decker
Costume Designer Christianne Myers
Lighting Designer Rachael Albert
Sound Designer Colin Fulton
Stage Manager Amalea Chininis


Click here to view photos from the production


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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower