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Vaughans Vocabulary Enjoying the creativity of Mississippis own Tennessee Williams

September 14, 2010

One evening last week I was at Miss. University for Women’s Whitfield Auditorium to see a performance of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth. John Moore and Jo Ann Robinson played the roles of Chance Wayne and Alexandra Del Lago. Brook Hanemann, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in Theatre at LSU, played the melancholy character of Heavenly.
It is characteristic of me to bring to a performance a script of the play; therefore, 15 minutes before curtain time, I was skimming the stage directions from “Three Plays of Tennessee Williams.”
Williams described the bedroom in the story to be “an old-fashioned but still fashionable hotel somewhere along the Gulf Coast in a town called St. Cloud.” Williams thought of the bedroom as resembling one of those Grand Hotels around Sorrento or Monte Carlo, set in a palm garden. “The style,” Williams wrote, “is vaguely Moorish.”

1. Monte Carlo is
A. on the Mediterranean coast.
B. in Monaco.
C. on the French Riviera.
D. a town.
E. an international resort.

2. Which one is not a play by Tennessee Williams?
A. The Glass Menagerie
B. Steamy Night in Monaco
C. A Streetcar Named Desire
D. Night of the Iguana

What I have next to B is something I made up, but it sounds like the perfect title for a Tennessee Williams play, doesn’t it? In the preceding question, all five are correct.

3. incognito (in-kahg-NEE-toe)
A. alone
B. with one’s identity sealed
C. a group with a shared interest
D. None of the above

Early in Sweet Bird of Youth, Chance Wayne says of Alexandra Del Lago, “She’s traveling incognito.” Williams has it as “incognito” but since a female is being referred to the word should end in “a” and not “o.” B is the answer.

4. soupcon (soup-SAWN)
A. a lot
B. a slight trace, as of a particular taste or flavor
C. soupspoon
D. phrase for “soup’s on.”

In the play that I have been writing I decided to use the word soupcon in a line of the protagonist’s mother. “I had a soupcon of brandy just before I left home.” B is the answer.

5. tabouret (ta-buh-RAY)
A. a fishing net
B. a cylindrical seat or stool without arms or back
C. a small portable stand or cabinet
D. ocean sounds

“In a sort of Moorish corner backed by shuttered windows, is a wicker tabouret and two wicker stools, over which is suspended a Moorish lamp on a brass chain.” B and C are correct.
Last week’s mystery word can describe “The Sonatine for Brass Instruments” (1951) by the French composer Eugene Bozza (1905-91). The mystery word rhymes with the actress who played Marcia Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel. The word is pristine.
Two words comprise this week’s mystery word. I write this noun on the preparation outlines of students who make assertions without backing them up. The first two letters are the same two letters in the first part of a title of an opera by Gluck (1714-87).

Contact Don Vaughan at dvaughan@eastms.edu

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