Friday, April 27, 2012

Sweet Bird of Youth and 1983 Reminisces

Madeleine Sherwood in Sweet Bird of Youth

Yesterday, I watched Sweet Bird of Youth on Turner Classics, part of their Tennessee Williams festival.

It reminded me of 1982, when I worked as a copywriter at a radio station in Montreal. I guess Tennessee died in 1982, because one of the other copywriters came into the room and announced, "One of us has died."

I turned to my friend, Nora, and smiled. One of us indeed. We wrote ads for Greeks restaurants, "Step into the Sunshine at la Casa Grecque,"

I just checked. He died in 83, so my memory serves.

You see, I was a big fan of the playwright. I had studied theatre at McGill, not for the acting bit, which  I simply hated, but for the plays. Tennessee was a favorite. Edward Albee and Pinter, too.

Now, I don't recall reading Sweet Bird of Youth, although I likely did. I missed the movie, though for sure. In 1962, when the movie came out, Montreal children couldn't  go to the movies. (My play Milk and Water explains.)

And besides, I was just 8. Anyway, this movie is still damn relevant, I think.

Now, Madeleine Sherwood is in the movie Sweet Bird of Youth, playing a distinctly different character than she played in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. A mistress to a powerful man. She played the same role, Miss Lucy, on stage.

Madeleine Sherwood, as it happens, is the granddaughter of Paul Villard, who figures in my story Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, the follow up to Threshold GIrl.

My ebook story is based on family letters from the 1910 era and in that era Edith Nicholson was working at French Methodiste Institute. Paul Villard, a medical doctor and doctor of divinity, was the Principal of the Missionary School on Greene Avenue.

He figures largely in the story, as he helps Edith through a number of crises and then she suddenly turns on him and quits. (I have somewhere a letter of recommendation he wrote, rather abrupt and hastily written.) Edith seems to have been friends with Yvonne Villard, his daughter. Yvonne visits Tighsolas in the summer of 1911.

I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure why. (I wondered at one time if it was because of the Church Union controversy going on. Edith was a Presbyterian.) But no, I realize that it had to do with Villard appointing another woman head of the teachers.

So I am writing that part right now. I have read Dr. Villard's books on the school and its mission, so know all about it.

I see on the net that Nicole Kidman was set to start in a revival on stage, last year, but nothing more has come of it. Nichol does have a similar acting style to Geraldine Page, I think.

Ecole Methodiste teachers. I am pretty sure the man on the right is Paul Villard. One of the girls other than Edith, might be Yvonne Villard.