Close this search box.

well established and here for you

independently owned and operated since 1977

Southern Women/Southern Man: Mink Stole Celebrates the Genius of Tennessee Williams

Another angle on Mink Stole in the The Mutilated in the 2013 edition of the Festival.
Photo: Josh Andrus

by G.W. Mercure

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, one of America’s greatest and most influential playwrights, is honored every September in the annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival. And each spring, the Festival hosts its Spring Performance Gala with a guest of honor familiar with Williams’ work. This year, actress Mink Stole will be featured at the gala on Saturday, June 1 at the Gifford House, where she will delve into her career and experiences with Tennessee Williams’ works. She will share her insights on various Williams characters and consider how she might interpret others. 

“I am deep in reading the Tennessee Williams plays. I’ve read them all in the course of my life, but I’m doing a deep dive and looking at his roles. I’m too old to play any of them now, but you know, when I think about the ones that I would have played, and how I would play them, it’s been very interesting for me. So I haven’t come to any great conclusions as of yet but I hope to by the time we get to the gala,” Stole says.

Stole finds the sexuality of Williams’ female characters more vivid and evocative than their gender or life roles. “They’re sort of The Virgin and The Whore. All of his women are damaged, except for maybe Stella – Stella seems to be the one character who isn’t a complete mess. So many of his women, they live by their sexuality, or they flounder without their sexuality. It’s either in full bloom or in denial. So his women are all very conflicted. And that’s interesting, and that’s fun to play.”

When considering the strength of Williams’ female characters, Stole says, “Well, they’re products of their time. And their time is not our time. Tennessee Williams was writing about women when women did not have careers, did not have independent lives; when women were very dependent on the men in their lives. So it’s kind of unfair to judge them by contemporary standards. So they’re as strong as they can be within the confines of the lives that they have. And the world that they live in – they all struggle, they’re all fighters in one way or another,” she says. 

“Williams was also a product of his time,” she continues. “And he was a Southern boy and Southern women were different from other women: Gentility and the repression of strong emotions were important characteristics of Southern women. They had to do their fighting in a different kind of way. They couldn’t stand up at the head of a boardroom table and scream, because they weren’t ever at the boardroom table. I think if he were writing today, his whole worldview would be completely different.”

Mink Stole as Taffy Davenport in John Waters’ 1974 film Female Trouble.

Stole, one of only three performers to have appeared in each of director John Waters’ feature films, has also appeared in productions by other filmmakers and in television productions. Now in her seventh decade of making films and appearing in stage productions, she reflects on the differences between stage and screen. “Personally, I love them both and they’re completely different entities. In the theater, you have an audience, there’s an energy that gets transferred back and forth from a performer to an audience and back again. And that’s a wonderful thing. In the end, the theater is immediate, it’s what happens that night on the stage that will never happen exactly the same way again. But in a film, you get to do it once and you hope that you do a good job and then it’s forever. You don’t get to redo it next week because you thought, ‘Oh, you know, I wonder if I say this word just this little bit differently if it might change anything?’ You don’t get those chances to go back and rework stuff. They’re both wonderful. I do love the immediacy of theater. And I love the rehearsal process of theatre, which I’ve never really been able to have in film. You really get to explore a character in theatre. In my experience, I have gotten to explore characters in theater much more and at greater leisure and more in-depth than I’ve been able to do in film.”

Despite the constraints of film, Stole does not express significant regret over her inability to rework scenes. “There are scenes that I would do over but no, I’m fine. I’m fine with what I’ve done. Yes, there’s always something that I would…cringe when I watch it, and then I go, ‘Well, it’s done. It’s fine.’ So there’s nothing that I’ve done on screen that I’m mortified by, that ruined my life.”

Mink Stole in the Tennessee Williams’ The Mutilated at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival in 2013.
Photo: Josh Andrus

Considering an alternative career path, Stole says, “I don’t really know because I got into it, I sort of fell into it when I was 19. And I discovered that I had an affinity for it, I really enjoyed it. So I honestly don’t know. I have fears that I would have ended up in middle management. That is my fear, that I would have been some functionary someplace. I don’t know. I might have been a lawyer. Or maybe I would have been an English teacher.”

At the Spring Performance Gala, Stole will engage in a conversation with gala curator David Kaplan, offering more reflections on Tennessee Williams, his characters, and her distinguished career in theater and film. This event promises a rich exploration of Williams’ enduring legacy and the unique perspectives of one of his most ardent admirers.

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival’s Spring Gala will be held on Saturday, June 1, 2 – 4 p.m. at the Gifford House, 9 Carver St., Provincetown. The event will include live entertainment, creative cocktails, afternoon hors d’oeuvres, silent auctions and the announcement of festival production, as well as a site specific sneak preview of the fall season of Memory Plays by Tennessee Williams. Additional packages are available including brunch with Mink for this fundraising event. For gala tickets ($250) and information, visit

Recent Posts

Sign up for our Newsletter

Scroll to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

Keep in touch

Fill in your details and I will get back to you in no time.

Phone: + 1 508-487-1000 ext 6
[email protected] 14 Center St. Provincetown MA, 02657