Slip like shadows : an exploration through physical theatre of oppressed sexuality and desire in the women of Tennessee Williams.

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts


This paper analyzes the physicality, repressed sexuality and desire, and the presumption of feminine weakness seen in Tennessee Williams' female characters: Alma from Summer and Smoke, Catharine from Suddenly Last Summer, Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire, Myrtle from Kingdom of Earth (The Seven Descents of Myrtle), and Flora from "The Important Thing." This paper also explores the influences in Williams' life on his writing, the societal expectations of mid-19th century women, multiple actresses' perspectives in portraying Williams' women, and the symbolism of Williams' female characters' names. Using sociological insight and the personal experiences of college students peppered across America, this paper then explores the contemporary relevance of these themes of oppression, as perpetuated by the media and through the hookup culture on college campuses. The discussion then strives to understand the purposes of physical theatre, particularly exploring Anne Bogart and Tina Landau's Viewpoints in the context of focusing on the body to express emotion in performance. Further analysis reflects upon the process and product of the performance created in response to this research, Slip Like Shadows. The performance strove to unite the stories of Williams' women through an approach of physical theatre. This paper ultimately hopes to expose the issues still facing women surrounding the double standard of expressions of sexuality and oppression.