Geraldine Page backstage during the off-Broadway run of “Summer and Smoke”

1.  The play was originally produced on Broadway in 1948, where it had a disappointing run of 102 performances.  (Hey, that’s 102 more performances than anything I’ve ever written!)

2.  The play was more successful in a 1952 off-Broadway production which ran more than 350 performances; this production is often credited with starting the modern off-Broadway movement.  (For which I say, “Thank you very much.”)

3.  The play’s original, pre-production title was Chart of Anatomy; the title was changed again when Williams offered a revised version on Broadway in 1976 under the name Eccentricities of a Nightingale.

4.  But wait, there’s more!  Before Chart of Anatomy, Williams had created an ancestor of the story and characters in a short story called “Oriflamme” which in turn was the basis for a short play called The Yellow Bird, which eventually evolved into the play currently under discussion.  (Writers were way ahead of the curve on recycling.  Just ask Shakespeare.)

5.  The leading female role of Alma Winemiller was created on Broadway by Margaret Phillips; Geraldine Page made a name for herself with her performance in the first off-Broadway production.  Page also received an Oscar nomination for the 1961 film version.  (And she deserved it.)

6.  The revised Eccentricities of a Nightingale played but 24 Broadway performances and featured Betsy palmer and David (Dark Shadows Selby) in the leading roles.

7.  Lee Hoiby provided the music and Lanford Wilson the libretto for an operatic adaptation in 1971.

8.   The title is thought to derive from a poem by Hart Crane.  (called “Emblems of Conduct,” if you must know.)

9.  The title is alluded to most directly in Alma’s lines “The girl who said ‘no,’—she doesn’t exist any more, she died last summer—suffocated in smoke from something on fire inside her.”  (Sorry, but I love that kind of nakedly dramatic writing.)

10.  The play wasn’t produced in London until 2006, when it starred “Bond girl” Rosamund Pike.

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