Texas Tech University

Tennessee Williams Institute

The Tennessee Williams Institute is a graduate-level immersion course offered annually in conjunction with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.

Each year, since 2012, Texas Tech's School of Theatre & Dance has committed to taking graduate students to the Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown, MA, not only to study under the best and most important scholars in the country, but also to see 8 or 9 professional shows related to Williams and attendant authors and themes. The School of Theatre & Dance was instrumental in creating the Tennessee Williams Institute, a training ground for scholars that also serves actors, designers, and arts administrators, among others.

TWI students participate in a series of private seminars with scholars who specialize in Tennessee Williams and/or related authors and themes. Seminars relate directly to live performance -- participants analyze and discuss Williams plays and then experience them in Festival productions, discovering where meaning unfolds in moments of action and stagecraft.

Emphasis is placed on the overtly theatrical elements found consistently in Williams' plays from the 1930s to the 1980s; the unique theatrical aesthetic of Williams late work in content and performance; and the ongoing evolution of Williams' reputation in the critical and popular imagination.

The festival offers scholars an opportunity to witness an exciting array of site-specific and found-space performances, teaching them the value of critical assessment, diverse aesthetics, and creative approaches to interpretation. This course has inspired many thesis and dissertation topics, and has also led to publication.