A Distant Country Called Youth

Monday, June 9 at 7:00 p.m.
Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage
Old Globe Theatre
Conrad Prebys Theatre Center

By Steve Lawson
Adapte from the early letters of Tennessee Williams

Spanning Tennessee Williams’s life from his seminal younger years in St. Louis to the successful Broadway opening of The Glass Menagerie more than 20 years later, this one-man show weaves together elements from his extraordinary life, tormented family relationships, distant travels, casual lovers, and career ups and downs. This was the raw material that Williams fashioned into his theatrical masterpieces. At turns humorous, poignant, and highly personal, A Distant Country Called Youth reveals Williams as a writer as poetic and passionate in his letters as he was in his plays.

Publicity Photos

Emmy Award winner Richard Thomas will star in A Distant Country Called Youth, by Steve Lawson, adapted from the early letters of Tennessee Williams, June 9, 2014 at The Old Globe. Photo by Lia Chang.

Cast and Creative Team

(click on image to download a high-resolution photo)
  Richard Thomas starred in the award-winning series “The Waltons,” for which he won an Emmy Award for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series. He has continued to star in series, films, plays, and over 50 movies for television. His theatre career began at age seven with the 1958 Broadway production of Sunrise at Campobello and continued with such shows as Fifth of July, The Seagull, The Front Page, Tiny Alice, Peer Gynt, Richard II, Richard III, Hamlet, and The Stendhal Syndrome. His other stage credits include Broadway’s Democracy and A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, the national tour of the Broadway revival of 12 Angry Men, and Unusual Acts of Devotion by Terrence McNally. His recent projects include the Broadway production of David Mamet’s Race; the title role in The Public Theater’s Timon of Athens; Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays for the Minetta Lane Theatre; and the world premiere of Camp David at Arena Stage. He last appeared on Broadway in the Manhattan Theatre Club revival of An Enemy of the People. Thomas can currently be seen on the hit FX series “The Americans.” He also had starring roles on series such as “Just Cause,” “It’s a Miracle,” and “The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson.” His television films include the Stephen King miniseries Nightmares & Dreamscapes, Stephen King’s It, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Silence, The Red Badge of Courage, The Master of Ballantrae, Johnny Belinda, Berlin Tunnel 21, Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr. Story, Hobson’s Choice, Roots: The Next Generations, Go Toward the Light, In the Name of the People, The Christmas Secret, The Miracle of the Cards, Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anna’s Dream, Annie’s Point, Wild Hearts, and most recently Hallmark Channel’s film Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. As a producer, Thomas has worked on such television projects as What Love Sees and For All Time. Thomas has appeared in such movies as The Wonder Boys, Battle Beyond the Stars, The Todd Killings, Last Summer, Winning, Red Sky at Morning, Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, and the forthcoming Anesthesia.
  Steve Lawson is Executive Director of the Williamstown Film Festival, which will hold its 16th season this fall. WFF has hosted such guest artists as David Strathairn, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, James Ivory, Campbell Scott, Sigourney Weaver, Barry Levinson, Alec Baldwin, and Patricia Clarkson; screened over 480 independent films including Frozen River, Spellbound, Roger Dodger, Off the Map, God of Love, Tape, Shadow of the Vampire, and A Birder’s Guide to Everything; and been called “a feast for the imagination and the soul” and “a world-class festival with a small-town heart.” As director of Manhattan Theatre Club’s Writers in Performance series, Lawson created events on Fitzgerald, Ellison, Colette, Hemingway, Cervantes, Millay, and Rimbaud and adapted Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying. His one-man play based on Tennessee Williams’s early letters, A Distant Country Called Youth, has been performed at The Kennedy Center, Hartford Stage, Williamstown TheatreĀ  Festival, and Galway Arts Festival in Ireland, and the acting edition was published by Samuel French Inc. The sequel, Blanche and Beyond, premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club, was published, and played The Kennedy Center. Long associated with Williamstown Theatre Festival, Lawson was its first literary manager, helped launch the Free Theatre and the Cabaret, adapted Dickens, Twain, Doyle, Stoker, Fielding, and Schnitzler, and wrote the theatre’s 50th anniversary gala. He has interviewed Truffaut, Mamet, Hare, and Fugard and written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Film Comment, TV Guide, Commonweal Magazine, and New Republic. He directed benefits for Alley Theatre and The MacDowell Colony, and he teamed up with Alec Baldwin to create City Center’s Voices! series. Lawson’s television credits include a Christopher Award and nominations for an Emmy Award and a Humanitas Prize; the adaptation of Broadway’s The Elephant Man; a biopic of Edith Wharton; The Room Upstairs starring Stockard Channing, Sam Waterston, and Joan Allen; a year as story editor on “St. Elsewhere,” for which Lawson co-wrote the first teleplay on AIDS; and “Broadway’s Dreamers: The Legacy of the Group Theatre,” which won an Emmy Award. Lawson earned a B.A. cum laude in English from Williams College and an M.F.A. in Dramatic Literature from Yale University School of Drama.