Drama by Mississippi Writers
The Glass Menagerie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof A Streetcar Named Desire Though Mississippi is not as well known for its drama as for its fiction, nevertheless some of the most acclaimed stage dramas of this century were written by Mississippi native Tennessee Williams, who was born in Columbus and grew up in Clarksdale. Regarded as one of Americas greatest playwrights, Williams lived most of his life away from his native soil, but his childhood experiences continued to inspire him throughout his career, as depicted in Amanda Wingfields recollections of receiving “gentleman callers” in the Mississippi Delta in The Glass Menagerie.
But he is by no means the only Mississippi dramatist to win acclaim for playwriting. Jackson native Beth Henley has been winning popular and critical accolades with such plays as Crimes of the Heart and The Miss Firecracker Contest, and Greenvilles Endesha Ida Mae Holland has enjoyed similar acclaim for her one-woman play Miss Ida B. Wells and the autobiographical From the Mississippi Delta.
Several Mississippi writers have also written for the movies, though often not exclusively. Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner wrote motion picture screenplays (usually for his friend, director Howard Hawks) because he could not make enough money from the sale of his books. Though he received on-screen credit for only six moviesincluding the film noir classics To Have and Have Not (loosely based on the novel by Faulkner rival Ernest Hemingway) and The Big Sleephe also worked unofficially on several other films, including Jean Renoirs The Southerner. Another movie-maker from Mississippi, best known as a director and performer, is “Muppets” creator Jim Henson, who was born in Greenville. The author of occasional screenplays, Henson named the Muppet character most intimately associated with himself after a childhood friend from Leland, MississippiKermit. Contemporary novelists Richard Ford and William Attaway have also written for television and film.
Though they are not writers, a number of talented actors also hail from Mississippi, including Diane Ladd (Meridian), Eric Roberts (Biloxi), Oprah Winfrey (Kosciusko), and James Earl Jones (Arkabutla). Last but not least, there is singer, songwriter, and occasional movie actor Elvis Presley, who was born in Tupelo.
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