10 April 2008

Shock of recognition

I saw this show last night and as Alma's father was ranting to her about how weird she was, I realized that Dad could have given the same speech to me when I was a teenager. Or even more recently. Probably did, come to think of it.

The thing for you to give up is your affectations, Alma, your little put-on mannerisms that make you seem – well – slightly peculiar to people. It isn’t just your singing I’m talking about. In ordinary conversation you get carried away by your emotions or something, I don’t know what and neither does anyone else. You, you, you – gild the lily! – You express yourself in – fantastic highflown – phrases! Your hands fly about you like a pair of wild birds. You, you get out of breath , you – stammer you – laugh hysterically and clutch at your throat! Now please remember. I wouldn’t mention these things if I didn’t know that they were just mannerisms, things that you could control, that you can correct! Otherwise I wouldn’t mention them to you. Because I can see that you are upset, but you can correct them. All you have to do is concentrate. When you’re talking, just watch yourself, keep an eye on your hands, and when you’re singing put them in one position and keep them there. ………Alma, little mannerisms, little — peculiarities of behavior — they are what get people known, eventually, as — eccentrics! And eccentric people are not happy, they are not happy people, Alma.

Rev. Winemiller, The Eccentricities of a Nightingale by Tennessee Williams


dgorsline said...

Perhaps it is Williams' genius that he can create his eccentric heroines--Alma, Blanche, Amanda Wingfield--with just enough universal humanity that we can, each of us, see ourselves in them.

Anonymous said...

I love, cultivate and revel in excentrics. What a dull world it would be withought them. It takes an original mind to behave orginally. I fear boredom more than peculiarities.