Northern Illinois University

School of Theatre and Dance

Not About Nightingales

by Tennessee Williams

Written in 1938, Tennessee Williams’ fourth play had remained unpublished for nearly sixty years when actress Vanessa Redgrave read William’s own reference to it in a foreword to another of his plays. Intrigued by his description, she asked the Williams estate to find a copy of the manuscript, and subsequently produced the play as a collaboration of her own theatre company, Moving Theatre, and England’s Royal National Theatre, in 1998.

Based on real life events that rocked the nation in the 1930s, this play recounts what was described at the time as one of the worst prison horrors in American history. Prison inmates staged a hunger strike, protesting their poor conditions, spoiled food and general mistreatment. Of course, they had to be punished.

Williams said in 1982 he had “never written anything since then that could compete with it in violence and horror…” Although an early Williams work, the play has humor, tenderness, and a passionate social conscience that never lets you look away.


February 21 - 24,
Feb 28 - March 3, 2013
O'Connell Theatre

Production Ended