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Tennessee Williams’ First Play Returns to Town

This should be good. As someone whose undergraduate thesis was on the subject of modern drama (along with politics, architecture, epistemology and related concerns), this event holds special interest:

After 70 years, Tennessee Williams’ first full-length play — “Candles to the Sun” — is returning to St. Louis for a March 16 homecoming performance at the theater where it premiered on March 18, 1937.

The organizer of the reunion is Tom Mitchell, the acting head of the department of theater at the University of Illinois.

The play, which illuminates the struggles of coal miners and family members living in Alabama‚Äôs Red Hills mining region, was originally presented twice — on March 18 and 20, 1937 — by The Mummers, an amateur acting troupe, in the auditorium of the Wednesday Club. Since 1972, the building at 4504 Westminster Place has been the home of The Learning Center, which presents educational and community-focused programs.

“The Learning Center/Wednesday Club auditorium is a remarkable building, constructed in 1908 from designs by architect Theodore C. Link in the Prairie Style,” Mitchell said. “The auditorium features the original furnishings that Williams and his friends experienced when mounting the first of his full-length works.”

“The first-floor auditorium has approximately 500 leather-upholstered seats and a small stage that was used for recitals and poetry readings, as well as theatrical productions,” he said. “Upstairs, the Wednesday Club had a large kitchen and dining room, with several side rooms with fireplaces and a solarium.”

The March 16 production of “Candles” at The Learning Center begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are available for a minimum contribution of $10 at the door, or by calling 314-361-1908. Tickets also may be purchased in advance at Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid, St. Louis, or by calling 314-367-6731.

More information about the performance is available from Mitchell, 217-333-3538, or Emily Richard at The Learning Center, 314-361-1908.

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