One Arm

Based on short story by Tennessee Williams

Adaptation: Fred Abrahamse & Marcel Meyer

Direction/Set & Lighting Design: Fred Abrahamse

Costume Design: Marcel Meyer

Soundscape: Charl-Johan Lingenfelder

Lighting Design 2022: Faheem Bardien

Photography: Fiona MacPherson and Pat Bromilow-Downing

2014 Cast: Marcel Meyer and Nicholas Dallas 

2022 Cast: Marcel Meyer and Matthew Baldwin

Venues & Dates:  Artscape Arena [August/September 2014] Artscape Arena [February 2022], Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival [September 2022]

About: After the international success of Kingdom of Earth and The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, Abrahamse & Meyer Productions were granted special permission by the Tennessee Williams Estate to adapt one of Williams’ most famous erotic short stories for the stage.

 

Written in 1942 and initially published in an expensive limited edition, One Arm tells of an aspiring boxer who loses his arm in a car accident and turns to prostitution for a living. The young hustler violently murders a client and is sentenced to death for this crime. On death-row, he receives hundreds of letters from former clients explaining how deeply he touched their lives. Explicit and daring, One Arm gives a graphic account of the homosexual underworld during 1940s while at the same time, being one of Williams’ most poignant portraits of a mutilated body and soul.

 

Throughout his life Williams was excited by the dramatic potential of One Arm and adapted it for the screen in the late 1960s but sadly the film was never produced. In 1972 Williams wrote that he conceived One Arm “as a dark poem whose theme is the prevalence of mutilations among us all, and their possible transcendence.”

 

Abrahamse and Meyer adapted One Arm as a tour-de-force for two actors focusing on the central relationship between the convicted hustler and a young Lutheran Minister who visits him on death row. Picking up on Williams’ themes of voyeurism, exhibitionism, and paraphilia the stage adaptation utilises erotic fetishism and sexual role-play as a major dramatic devise in the play by having the young Lutheran Minister, voyeuristically act out all the various characters in mutilated boxer’s life-story.

 

What the Press Said:

“undeniably potent theatre”

“extraordinary”

“skillful lighting design”

“Evocative costuming”

“Matthew Baldwin displays astonishing versatility”

“Matthew Baldwin as the young Lutheran Minister provides a comforting foil as Oliver wrestles with his memories and his current reality”

“Baldwin as the minister is chilled, non-judgmental and is there to listen”

“Entrusted with no fewer than eight vastly differing personae from minister to prostitute, sailor to gypsy fortune-teller, Matthew Baldwin displays astonishing versatility”

“Meyer, as Winemiller, gives one his best performances to date”

“Marcel Meyer delivers a brilliant performance as Oliver”

“Meyer presents a masterclass in restraint – embodying emotion by gesture and voice”

“Meyer, as Winemiller, gives one his best performances to date: steady, unnerving eye-contact with his audience, emotional intensity at requisite moments, and an almost offhand response to the invasion of his privacy, combine to round out a complex character both alluring and repellent.”

“memorable and rewarding”

“highly recommended”

“a powerful meditation on absence and presence”

“I couldn’t stop thinking about the play”

One Arm is an intensely intimate piece”

“There are many images which linger”

“Such opulence of material compressed into an hour-long drama is a challenge to which A&M Productions have risen with their habitual finesse and creativity”

“What makes it extraordinary is the density of its content allied to the economy of its expression”

“Haunting, visceral, and intellectually satisfying, One Arm has much to offer discerning theatregoers.” CAPE ARGUS

One Arm is an explicit and challenging play, both for the performers and the audience, firmly in line with the theatre partners' philosophy of pushing the creative boundaries.” THE TIMES

“This evocation of mutilated body and soul has moments of aching beauty and is very touching at times. There are some intoxicatingly haunting passages in One Arm, and especially Meyer as the boxer leaves a lasting impression on one with his angelic existential anguish. Perhaps the most memorable qualities of One Arm lie in the technical arena. Abrahamse’s sound and lighting designs verge on the filmic at time, and really transport one to this world of clandestine couplings and desire playing out in the shadows.” THE NEXT 48 HOURS

“Beautifully haunting, ethereal…there are moments of pure magic between the two actors, Meyer lost in the truth of his own character and Dallas cycling through his eight characters admirably…wonderful little moments of genius direction here and there bring on unexpected shivers of appreciation…the costumes are magnificent…Full of gloom and foreboding, the most lasting impression of this play is the sense of a tender and fragile spirit which never quite makes it to the surface.” WHATS ON IN CAPE TOWN

“The focus of Abrahamse's direction of One Arm is on the creation of a stark present world that is penetrated and shaped by memory. His work is fluid, giving the piece a dreamlike quality as it moves from image to image and scene to scene.   Abrahamse's scenic design for the piece aids the realisation of this dreamscape, and is the most beautiful and coherent landscape that he has fashioned in his recent run of Williams plays.” BROADWAY WORLD

“Meyer, dives into Williams’ works, imbuing them with immense passion and craft, with a focus on detail. The role of Oliver Winemiller - a one-time boxer, rent-boy and death-row inmate - in One Arm is not for the faint-of-heart but Meyer, an actor's actor, is unflinching in his portrayal. It is a character clearly imagined by Williams, delving as it does into the darkness of a misspent life.” THE TIMES

Abrahamse and Meyer prove that they truly understand the finer nuances of Williams’ writing… The end of the play is not a punch in the gut but rather like the final brush strokes of an oil-painting.  The subtleties and muted style of the direction make this production such a delicate work of art. A work of art that one would like to revisit or maybe display in a private place.” DIE BURGER

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