Something Unspoken

Written by Tennessee Williams

Thurs 23rd to Sat 25th September & Tues 28th September to Sat 2nd October 1993

Directed by Pete Woodward

A Double Bill from two of America's most distinguished playwrights, with both short plays being performed each night... Something Unspoken is a brilliantly humorous vignette of the social manoeuvres of a wealthy Southern Spinster.

AuthorTennessee Williams

Thomas Lanier Williams (1911 - 1983)

Tennessee Williams was an American playwright who received many of the top theatrical awards for his works of drama. Born in Columbus, Mississippi he moved to New Orleans in 1939 and changed his name to "Tennessee", the state of his father's birth. He attended the University of Missouri then transferred to Washington University in St. Louis for a year, and finally earned a degree in 1938 from the University of Iowa.

He moved to New Orleans in 1939 where he wrote 'The Glass Menagerie' which was first staged in Chicago in 1944 to great acclaim, winning a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. He won the Pulitzer Prize for 'A Streetcar Named Desire' in 1948 and again for 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' in 1955. In addition, The Glass Menagerie (1945) and The Night of the Iguana (1961) received New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards. His 1952 play 'The Rose Tattoo' received the Tony Award for best play. In 1980 he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.

He encountered many personal difficulties in his life, such as the mental illness and institutionalisation of his sister, the difficulties of being gay in an unaccepting pre- and post-war American society, his infidelities (which led to the breakdown of many of his relationships) and his dependence on drugs and alcohol, all of which contributed to his own mental health problems and he suffered a breakdown in 1969. It is almost certain that alcohol and drugs contributed to his death when he choked on a bottle cap in a New York hotel room.

PlaySomething Unspoken

'Something Unspoken' was written in 1958, and debuted as part of a double bill of one-act plays written by Williams entitled 'Garden District' (the other one-act play was 'Suddenly, Last Summer'). which premiered Off-Broadway that year. The action takes place in Meridian, Louisiana and during the course of the play the two characters are developed with remarkable insight. It is a play with an underlying current of irony.

Miss Cornelia Scott is a wealthy Southern spinster in her 60s - a grande dame. She dresses elaborately and generally lives her life with a vast amount of pomp and circumstance. She is is waiting on tenterhooks to hear about the elections of the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy. Having been a member for years and having held every other office, she wants to be Regent. The problem is that her fear of rejection is so huge that she cannot submit to the indignities of campaigning.

Williams gives the audience an great insight into her inner emotions. Under the facade, Cornelia is lonely and eager for approval. She is so afraid of rejection that she can barely think about it - and certainly cannot force herself to go as far as campaigning for votes. Externally, nobody would guess however that she is so vulnerable.

Her secretary, Grace is in her 40s and has been with her for 15 years. They two women have a complex codependent relationship. There is tension between them - something unacknowledged, and the situation comes to a head in a confrontation between them.

The Bench Production

Something Unspoken poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. It was part of a USA double Bill, with 'Something Unspoken' being staged in the first half of each evening and 'The Zoo Story' being staged after the interval.


Cornelia ScottRuth Prior
Grace LancasterJude Salmon


Director Pete Woodward
Stage Manager Alyse Ashton
Lighting Design Jacquie Penrose
Sound and Lighting Operation Tim Taylor
Front of House Sally Hartley

Director's Notes

Both plays being performed this evening were written by American playwrights in 1958. They are both played by two actors; and are firmly set in the USA.

They are, though quite different in content and tone, and it is this contrast - in what may outwardly seem a neat set of coincidences - that attracted me to the idea of presenting the two plays as a double bill.

Pete Woodward

Production Photographs