God Looked Away

Feb 5, 2017

t-al-pacino-toronto-film-festivalHe was born Thomas Lanier Williams in Columbus, Mississippi and would become known to the world as Tennessee Williams. His father was a traveling salesman and so often away for work that young Williams lived the first ten years of his life with his grandparents.

Cornelius Coffin Williams has been described as loud, a “hard” drinker, and boisterous bordering on vulgar, while young Thomas is described as “sensitive.” Ironically, it’s been written that while Tennessee attended the University of Missouri and began writing more and more he “discovered alcohol as a cure for his oversensitive shyness.”

Williams has used his early life in most of his plays. His favorite setting is southern, with southern characters. In Stanley Kowalski, we see many of the rough, poker-playing, manly qualities that his own father possessed. In Laura and Amanda, we find very close echoes to his own mother and sister. In Tom Wingfield, we find again the struggles and aspirations of the writer himself re-echoed in literary form. Thus he has objectified his own subjective experiences in his literary works.
Tennessee Williams Biography,


Tennessee Williamns

Tennessee Williamns


Dotson Rader met Tennessee Williams in 1969 and according to Rader the two men were friends until Williams’ death in 1983. Rader wrote Tennessee: Cry of the Heart, which Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times calls an intimate memoir, absorbing, and entertaining, even if not entirely accurate.

Mr. Rader observes… that (Williams’s) creativity ”required the constant exercising of his emotions, taking them to the breaking point and then coming back and writing what he experienced.” (“Books of the Times” by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times, 1985)

But he never fully escaped his demons. Surrounded by bottles of wine and pills, Williams died in a New York City hotel room on February 25, 1983. (Broadway World)


Southern discomfort: Williams in his office in Key West, Florida Corbis (

Southern discomfort: Williams in his office in Key West, Florida Corbis (


Rader went on to pen the play God Looked Away, which is “drawn from experiences that are also referenced in the autobiography,” but not “based specifically” on his memoir. God Looked Away opens at the Pasadena Playhouse February 8 and runs through March 19.


Judith Light

Judith Light


Williams is played by none other than Al Pacino, while Judith Light plays Williams’s friend Estelle and The Young and the Restless star Miles Villanueva plays “Baby,” the name Williams apparently called Rader.

Villanueva told that “the story in the play gives you a peek at Tennessee Williams trying to mount one of his plays, and the struggles he goes through to produce, and write a play in his later years.”


Miles Gaston Villanueva

Miles Gaston Villanueva


As most people know, two of Williams’s well-known plays include The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire. Frank Rich, writing for the New York Times, states:

Williams’s life was lived almost entirely at the extremes embodied by Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski. He was at once a man of frail sensitivities and brutal hungers – a moth dancing in his own flame. And, as surely as Stanley must smash Blanche, so Williams was inevitably driven to self-destruction. (“Half Blanche, Half Stanley” by Frank Rich, New York Times, 1985)

If anyone can pull this material together and embody the tragic last years of an American icon, it would be Academy and two-time Tony Award Winner Mr. Al Pacino.

Directed by Robert Allan Ackerman.


Al Pacino Portraits


God Looked Away
Wednesday, February 8-Sunday, March 19
Wednesday-Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $126-$206; matinees start at $89
Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena
For more details, visit


“As a young playwright, Tennessee Williams premiered two new plays at the Playhouse, and it is fitting that our first PlayWorks production features a revealing glimpse into the life of this great American playwright,” said Danny Feldman, producing artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse.—David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter, December 16, 2016

PlayWorks presents works in progress.





Source material:
Tennessee Williams Biography,




Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena