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The Night of the Iguana Play Report

Updated May 14, 2022
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The Night of the Iguana Play Report essay

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In this Essay, I will discuss one of Tennessee Williams’ plays The Night of the Iguana. Among the synopsis of the show and background of the playwright, I will talk about when this work was on stage, the awards, and the historical significance.

The Night of the Iguana the protagonist T. Lawrence Shannon, a defrocked minister and tour guide leader, leads a group of women on a tour to a small hotel outside of Mexico City during World War II, where he knows the owner, Maxine Faulk. Maxine and Shannon greet each other like old friends while the women on the tour refuse to get off the bus because it was not planned on the tour. Maxine orders her servants to get their luggage off of the bus per request of Shannon. As this settles down, Hannah Jeckles walks up to the hotel while pushing her grandfather in a wheel chair. She walks up to Shannon assuming he was the manager of the hotel and asked if there was vacancy. But she is an artist and her grandfather is a poet so they trade their art for goods and services. Maxine overhears this and immediately turns Hannah and her grandfather away. Shannon convinces Maxine to let the two stay one night. Hannah thanks Shannon and befriends him, Maxine sees this and is jealous.

Later that night Maxine approaches Hannah and tells her that she has made arrangements for them in a boarding house, she tries to plea with Maxine, but she is stubborn. Hannah asks Shannon about this boarding house only to find out that it is a terrible place. As they are discussing, a 16-year-old girl from his tour approaches Shannon and says that they need to get married. It turns out that Shannon and the young girl slept together earlier on in the tour and the elders aren’t too happy about it. When one approaches they hide as Hannah covers for them, but nevertheless they are found and the young girl is taken away, and told to never get near Shannon again. Shannon then explains to her that he slept with the young girl, and that he was rumored of doing the same back home while he was a minister.

That and a combination of a sermon that was considered contradictory to traditional teaching is the reason he is on sabbatical from his church for a year. Hannah attempts to sell her paintings to the people of Shannon’s tour in hopes to make money for her and her grandfather to stay at the hotel. While she does this Shannon stays back and watches her grandfather while he attempts to write another poem. The employees of the hotel who are also locals of the rainforest, capture an iguana and begin to fatten it for eating. Maxine attempts to bond with Shannon more by offering him drinks, he refuses. Maxine picks a fight with Hannah and accuses her of being a free loader, she then orders her to stay away from Shannon. Overhearing this Shannon approaches, Maxine quickly walks away as if nothing happened. Shannon and Hannah bond over a cigarette.

Later that day, Maxine approaches Shannon and tells him that she wants to move back into the states and open a hotel or stay in Mexico with him helping her. They are interrupted when a man approaches Shannon. The man tells him that Shannon’s tour group will now join his own because he has been found unfit to finish the tour. After a physical confrontation the man leaves with Shannon’s tour group. Shannon goes on a tantrum, he is tied up by the employees of the hotel by orders of Maxine.

Hannah tries to comfort Shannon by talking to him and making him tea so he can calm down, these attempts fail when he manages to get free from the ropes. After Hannah confides in Shannon that she has also been through some breakdowns like what he had just gone through, Shannon asks if he can accompany her with her journeys. She refuses and begins to pack her things. She asks him to set free the iguana, and after some discussion about right and wrong he agrees. Hannah’s grandfather calls out to her that he has finally finished his poem. Shannon agrees to stay with Maxine, and Hannah sits with her grandfather who had just died after reciting his final poem.

Tennessee Williams was born on March 26th, 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi. He was the middle child and was mostly raised by his mother, because his father was always working instead of at home parenting. Williams had a pleasant childhood until his family moved to Missouri where he became very introverted and began to write. Because of the state of his home life it gave him a lot of material to work with when it came to writing. He later modeled his characters after members of his family. “His mother became the model for the foolish but strong Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, while his father represented the aggressive, driving Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” At the age of 18 he went to the University of Missouri for Journalism.

But shortly after his father forced him to withdraw and take up a job at a shoe company working in sales. However, in his free time he still wrote stories and poems. Fighting depression, Williams had a nervous breakdown, but after getting back on his feet he returned to St. Louis where he met poets at Washington University. In 1937 he went back to college, but this time at the University of Iowa, where he graduated the next year. He then moved to New Orleans, which would inspire him to write A Streetcar Named Desire. After winning a writing competition, he hired an agent, shortly after in 1940, Williams had his first play debut in Boston. This play failed, so he revised it into what is now Orpheus Descending, this was so popular that it was made into a movie entitled The Fugitive Kind.

There he began writing scripts for MGM. In 1945, he was able to get The Glass Menagerie on Broadway. Audiences loved it so much they wanted more and in 1947 A Street Car Named Desire debuted on the stage. Praises for his plays arose and he would soon win a Pulitzer Prize. He was on top of the world writing plays like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Sweet Bird of Youth. But soon in the 1960’s his success diminished, and Williams turned to drugs and alcohol to cope. In 1969 he was hospitalized by his brother. Williams released several new plays when he was released. It all seemed like he was getting back to normal, but on February 25, 1983, Williams died in a hotel room “surrounded by bottles of wine and pills.” He was 72.

The Night of the Iguana debuted on Broadway on December 27th 1961, with one preview the show officially opened the next day. This run of the show closed September 29, 1962 after 316 performances it also nominated for three Tony Awards and won one for Best Actress in a play, as well as a New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best American play.

This play as well as many other Tennessee Williams plays was turned into a movie. The movie was released in 1964. It was nominated for 4 Oscars, but only received 1. It was also nominated for 5 Golden Globes, a BAFTA award, and many others.

The play opened back up on Broadway in 1976 with 77 performances, 1988 with 81 performances, and in 1966 with 69 performances.

“Tennessee Williams admitted more than once that he had written all of his plays for his beloved sister, Rose.” Iguana also has an element of his personal life, with connections to his wife at the time and his sister. Williams wrote plenty of plays before and after this one, so this play really has no historical significance to it.

In my opinion, The Night of the Iguana is a work of Tennessee Williams that you can skip. I wouldn’t recommend this play over any other of Tennessee’s works.

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The Night of the Iguana Play Report. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-night-of-the-iguana-play-report/

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