Stairs to the Roof

by  Tennessee Williams

Full Length Play, Drama  /  16m, 8f

Much of the play is set in a shirt factory in St. Louis and chronicles the daily frustrations of white-collar workers who find themselves stuck in dead-end jobs that stifle creativity. 

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Stairs to the Roof

by  Tennessee Williams

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    16m, 8f
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

Much of the play is set in a shirt factory in St. Louis and chronicles the daily frustrations of white-collar workers who find themselves stuck in dead-end jobs that stifle creativity. Williams' protagonist, Benjamin Murphy, finds release through frequent trips to the washroom, where he writes poetry, and through a romantic affair with a co-worker. He finds his ultimate escape hatch when he discovers an unused staircase that leads to the roof -- and a wide world beyond. William's called it a prayer for the wild of heart who are kept in cages and dedicated it to all the wage earners of the world. It features a fantastic, sci-fi style ending that predates the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek by several decades. The theme is clear and still resounds today: whether man can control technology or technology controls man.
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Keywords

Business, Love

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Professional Theatre
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $100 per performance

Production

Details

  • Setting: Multiple locations

Casting

16m, 8f

MR. GUM ALFRED
JOHNNIE - the office boy
A DESIGNER
BENJAMIN D. MURPHY
MR. WARREN B. THATCHER
THE GIRL
JIM
THE BARTENDER
BERTA
ALMA - Ben's wife
HELEN
A YOUNG SOLDIER
EDNA - Jim's wife
THE POLICEMAN
A VAGRANT
THE NIGHT WATCHMAN - also plays THE ZOOKEPER
TWO ZOO GUARDS
THE CLOWN
FIRST MUMMER - reader
BEAUTY
THE BEAST
MRS. HOTCHKISS
ALMA's MOTHER
MESSERS. P, D, Q, T - company stockholders
MR. E

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Cast Attributes

  • Room for Extras

Casting Notes

Plus ensemble of office workers, choral voices, offstage speakers, carnival crowd, and a barker.

Resources

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Authors

Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) explores passion with daring honesty, and forged a poetic theatre of raw psychological insight that shattered conventional proprieties and transformed the American stage. The autobiographical The Glass Menagerie brought what Mr. Williams called “the catastrophe of success,” a success capp ...

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Stairs to the Roof premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, CA in February 1947 under the direction of Gilmor Brown.

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