rom the mid-1940s through the 1950s, the dramatist/director/stage designer triumvirate formed by Tennessee Williams, Elia Kazan, and Jo Mielziner was not only one of the most creative and productive teams that the American theatre had ever known but, more importantly, one of the most influential in establishing a production style blending naturalism and expressionism, poetic lyricism and gritty realism, that would be a dominating force in theatre staging for years to come. For his part, Williams—despite some sense of what he called ‘psychic violation’ over acceding to Kazan’s suggestions for revising
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
—had the greatest admiration for the man he called ‘the most brilliant director we have,’ one who ‘brings to bear an intensely creative imagination,’ who ‘magnified [any] play in a good way.’
He cherished the director for recognizing the centrality of a prodigious work habit as the very essence of the playwright’s being:
■ But my work—I don’t think anyone has ever known, with the exception of Elia Kazan, how desperately much it meant to me and accordingly treated it—or should I say its writer—with the necessary sympathy of feeling.