Staged reading for Aboutstage fundraiser at Center Stage, NY. 1999
Explanation for the adaptation
“Suddenly Last Summer” is a play about a secret. The secret of HOW Sebastian Venable died. The whole play is about the unveiling of this secret with the conflict arising from the fact that Sebastian’s mother, Violet, wishes to bury this secret. But, of course, underlying this secret is the true secret that Violet wishes to bury, and that is the secret of WHY Sebastian Venable died. He died because he was gay.
The age and times in which Mr. Williams wrote did not allow for openly gay stories. So, Mr. Williams wrote subversively. Note the characters, Skipper in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, Alan in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, and of course Sebastian in “Suddenly Last Summer”. Had Mr. Williams been born later and been free to write “openly”, he would have done so.
This adaptation of “Suddenly Last Summer” brings out the subverted voice, frees the story and tells the secret of WHY Sebastian Venable died. To do this is, I’ve put the spirit of Sebastian on the stage as a ghost who cannot rest until the truth of his story be told. He cannot allow his mother to squelch the truth of how he died or why he died. Once the truth is told, he is set free to finally rest in peace.
I do not add or remove dialogue from the script, but rather, lift words and sentences out of other characters’ dialogue and assign them to the spirit of Sebastian. The linear progression or sequence of speech does not change in any way.
Sebastian’s objective is to help Catharine tell the story so that he will be set free from the lie that killed him. His journey starts at the beginning of the play in a state of awakening, wondering why he is back as a spirit. He slowly realizes, after hearing Violet speak, that he is here to have the truth be told, and he finds in Catharine a voice to speak the truth. Once the truth is said, he is set free.