Kingdom of Earth
Playwright: Tennessee Williams
Presented in association with Artscape
Direction/ Set & Lighting Design: Fred Abrahamse
Costume Design: Marcel Meyer
Soundscape: Charl-Johan Lingenfelder
Photography: Fiona MacPherson, Pat Bromilow-Downing, Josh Andros
Cast: Anthea Thompson, Marcel Meyer, Nicholas Dallas
Venue/s: Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival 2012, Artscape Arena [December 2012], Provincetown Theatre [September 2013], Baxter Flipside [February 2014]
About: The play is set in a decrepit farm house on the edge of the Mississippi Delta, a few hours before the valley is due to be flooded.
Everyone has fled the area, except Chicken, a powerful young man of mixed race, who claims he can sit out the flood on the roof top. Lot, his half-brother arrives with his new wife Myrtle, ten years his senior, ex-stripper and sometime whore, to claim back his mother's house from Chicken. A sibling rivalry for possession of Myrtle takes place, whilst the flood waters rise and threaten to consume them.
This savage, sexy and darkly-comic play has been widely overlooked since its inaugural performance on Broadway in 1968.
KINGDOM OF EARTH deals poignantly with racial discrimination, ownership of land and familial dysfunction. Williams brilliantly realises these themes by pitting the effete, dying and racist Lot against his brooding, mixed-race half-brother Chicken, who is determined to claim the family farm as his own.
This production won great acclaim in America and the USA.
What the Press said:
“Who would imagine it would take a troupe from South Africa to bring Williams’ words to life. But that’s exactly what happened in a nuanced but forceful revival of Kingdom of Earth. There was so much energy on that stage, so many great Williams’ lines. All three actors were perfect in their roles. The staging was impeccable, everything worked. The actors earned two curtain calls and standing ovations.” PROVINCETOWN BANNER
“As directed by Fred Abrahamse, the play grabbed hold of your throat and slowly, purposefully, squeezed your breath away…the effect was riveting, frightening, and horrific.” –EDGE BOSTON
“The difference a year in development made to this piece, previously acted with world-class performances but now deepened and staged, was astonishing – kudos to Anthea Thompson laying Myrtle, Marcel Meyer as Chicken and Nicholas Dallas as Lot for giving us such complex and nuanced performances.” – PROVINCETOWN BANNER 2013
“The cast are, without exception, absolutely outstanding...There is a terrible beauty in Meyer’s portrayal of the angry but wounded Chicken; Dallas poignantly captures Lot’s malevolent spitefulness yet sad vulnerability; and Thompson is utterly brilliant as the seemingly gullible though resilient Myrtle...Kingdom of Earth is a bold and challenging work, memorably brought to life by an extraordinary team.” – CAPE TIME 2012
“Director Fred Abrahamse has brought the play to life in a series of evocative images…The three cast members play off one another effortlessly… There is no other piece on Cape Town stages between now and the end of 2012 that will give you the same complex experience or the kind of catharsis that William's work offers.” – BROADWAY WORLD
“Performances by the trio are impeccable…While I’m not one for giving ratings in reviews, the number ten comes to mind.” – MONDAY MISSLE
“Since it was staged at Artscape Arena just more than a year ago, Fred Abrahamse’s production of Tennessee Williams’ underrated masterpiece Kingdom of Earth has matured like a choice vintage to maximize the work’s philosophical, psychological and socio-political complexities – not to mention its dramatic impact. Each of the protagonists is entirely convincing; it is not so much a matter of portraying a character as becoming a character. When all is said and done, this is splendid theatre deserving of a second visit.” – CAPE ARGUS 2013
“Kingdom of Earth’s strongest element is its stellar ensemble acting. All versatile and skilled actors, the three cast members faultlessly depict individuals who are luckless, angry, greedy, depraved and scarred…Highly relevant to our ongoing racial, land and power struggles, this mythic parable’s impassioned finale is powerful and affirms hope and redemption remain within our reach.” – CAPE TIMES 2013.
FLEUR DU CAP THEATRE AWARDS:
Best Actress – Anthea Thompson [nomination]
Best Set Design – Fred Abrahamse [win]
Best Costume Design – Marcel Meyer [nomination]
Best Score – Charl-Johan Lingenfelder [nomination]