Bourbon Street and Beyond
Just three blocks from my hotel, MAISON DUPUY, in New Orleans, LA is a home that Tennessee Williams occupied after WWII. He wrote stories there for the WPA (Works Projects Authority) in the beginning of his writing journey. Curiosity overtook me and I laced the French Quarter streets sparkling wet from street cleaners early the next morning. Mardi Gras parades concluded just hours before. Some bars on Bourbon Street still cranked out tunes and burst with loud partying patrons.
Just past Bourbon St, hidden in a compound of historical homes the “Historic New Orleans Collection” is housed. The museum whispers history. Once the jangle of the iron work fencing and marble edifices subsides, the cobblestone estuaries lead to a library behind stable sized wooden doors. The public is welcome to view the works of Tennessee Williams, but a smirking blue-haired lady requested I give up my personal items to a locker before I could climb the stairs to the bookshelf-lined upper rooms. The collection is so vast that these notebooks hold the itemized manuscripts, you give the librarian an item number and then they search the archives for the actual work.
“Blue Children, please,” I squeaked. I opened the worn green notebook of mss. 562 – from the Fred W. Todd Tennessee Williams Collection, and jazaam! Pinch me, I entered his world. The same yellowed typing paper that actually graced an underwood typewriter eons ago touched from his hands to mine. Sandwiched in the notebook of FIELDS OF BLUE CHILDREN is the hand –typed manuscript of the short story by Tennessee Williams and the adapted script of the televised play. What a great way to compare the novelistic work with the thumping flesh characters. The script writers were Alfred Ryder, Richard Pollard and Kathy Billings. The main story is as goes: It is like much of Tennessee Williams’s work, it juxtaposes the practical, materialistic world against the more ephemeral arena of the artist. Sexual desire, passion, and creativity are in the poet Homer’s corner as opposed to the workaday world in which Myra and Kirk live after their marriage.
What I noticed most was that the short story statements popped to prominence in the script. The voice of Myra murmurs, “Words are a net to catch beauty.” In script form, this is the shout out theme. In the short story this phrase is buried next to descriptive blooms. The script makes good use of V.O., sometimes discouraged by script consultants. I agree, there may be overuse in the teleplay. BLUE CHILDREN as script doesn’t include an inciting incident, whoops; and there is no character arc, imagine that. Its flaws determines that the script meanders on as if perusing city streets after a cocktail.
TRUE DETECTIVE achieves a good adaptation of descriptive prose to live action, next week I’ll compare the script to the televised version to make light of the writing process. Nic Pizzolatto is my new Lent hero.