Bios

Tennessee Williams (Subject)

Born Thomas Lanier Williams on March 26, 1911, in Columbus, Mississippi, Tennessee Williams is widely regarded as one of America’s greatest playwrights. His prolific body of work includes over 70 published plays, as well as poems, stories, screenplays, and essays. Along with the plays he set in St. Louis (FUGITIVE KIND, THE GLASS MENAGERIE, A LOVELY SUNDAY FOR CREVE COEUR, STAIRS TO THE ROOF), New Orleans (A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, VIEUX CARRÉ), the southern coast of Mississippi (THE ROSE TATTOO, SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH), and other locations (CAMINO REAL, THE MILK TRAIN DOESN’T STOP HERE ANYMORE, NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, NOT ABOUT NIGHTINGALES, PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT, SMALL CRAFT WARNINGS), Williams set a significant number of his major works in the Mississippi Delta. The Delta is floodplain in the northwestern area of Mississippi that was formed over thousands of years by the flooding of the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, resulting in “the richest land this side of the valley Nile,” to quote Big Daddy, one of Williams’ most famous characters. Williams lived in the booming Delta cotton town of Clarksdale as a child, and returned regularly throughout his teens, during the years his grandfather was the rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church, 1917-1931. The full-length plays Williams set in the Mississippi Delta include BATTLE OF ANGELS, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, THE ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE, KINGDOM OF EARTH, ORPHEUS DESCENDING, OUT CRY, SPRING STORM, SUMMER AND SMOKE, and TIGER TAIL. In addition, his immortal plays THE GLASS MENAGERIE and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE are full of Mississippi references, the Delta having been the former home of the characters Amanda Wingfield, Blanche DuBois, and Blanche’s sister Stella. Williams also set dozens of short plays, poems, and stories in the Mississippi Delta, as well as the screenplays for BABY DOLL and THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND. He referenced the Mississippi Delta for most of his writing career. Williams died in 1983.

Karen Kohlhaas (Director, Writer, Producer)

Karen is a founding member of and director with the Atlantic Theater Company, an acclaimed Off Broadway theater company now in its 28th year of production, and a senior teacher at the Atlantic Acting School. She has directed many productions at Atlantic, and also at the New York Shakespeare Theatre/Public Theater, Ars Nova, the St. Luke’s Theatre, Naked Angels, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Bill T. Jones’ New York Live Arts, IRT, the Culture Project, the Alley Theatre in Houston, Menagerie Theatre in Cambridge, UK and the Practical Theatre in Sydney, Australia. She is the author of three books on monologues and auditioning, and the producer/director/writer of the DVD, THE MONOLOGUE AUDITION VIDEO. She studied documentary filmmaking and photography at Barefoot Workshops in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Her films include the shorts THE PALACE OF THE END and IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING with composer/playwright/performer Taylor Mac, the feature length instructional film ROOTS AND BRANCHES 5 ELEMENT QI GONG, and the short documentaries, co-produced with Barefoot Workshops, THE BABIES GOT THE BLUES (with Rachel Hamilton), IT’S NOT ABOUT FILM, and WATERMELON SLIM. Karen teaches acting, directing and auditioning in New York City as well as master classes in the United States and internationally. For information on her books, DVD and classes please visit www.monologueaudition.com.

Brooke Bassin (Associate Producer)

Brooke is a producer, playwright and filmmaker with many years of experience in both film and theatre. Her first documentary, AFRICA JAM, produced by Barefoot Workshops in Cape Town, South Africa, depicted a group of young actors in Khayelitsha, the country’s second-largest township. The film utilized the “video policy letter” template being developed by Barefoot Workshops in partnership with the Digital Freedom Initiative, a public-private partnership overseen by the US State Department. The film, along with four others, was screened live via videoconference from the US Consulate in Cape Town to a gathering of policymakers, funders and stakeholders gathered at the State Department.  Her second documentary, CROSSIN’ ALL THE BOUNDARIES, co-directed by Rebecca Parrish and also produced by Barefoot Workshops, played at Crossroads Film Festival in Jackson, MS and festivals around the country. In Lesotho, Uganda, Brooke documented the work of the Winter-Summer Institute, a Theatre for Development project dealing with the roles of power and denial in the spread of HIV/AIDS. Continuing her association with Barefoot Workshops, she has made two trips to Alebtong in northern Uganda to document the progress of Barefoot’s A River Blue Vocational Training Center. She is the author of numerous plays including CHARLIE RIPS, YANK’S GLORY DREAMS and THE ALIBI ROOM, and she has directed productions of her work in both New York and Los Angeles.