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[By Tennessee Williams]

Provincetown, MA 

2012, 2013

Williams was made famous with a mother-son drama, and it's a theme he explored often in his short plays. What could have been another depressing production of a mother-son tragedy became a raucous celebration on the streets of Provincetown. 


Auto-da-Fé takes place in the French Quarter of New Orleans, where music and debauchery infuse the very air. A sickly, closeted, shame-filled not-so-young man has a dirty secret that results in an argument with his ultra-Catholic inquisitor of a mother on their front porch. So naturally we staged it on a porch, and in New Orleans fashion, we framed the play with a brass band. First a funeral procession passed by, then after the tragic events of the play, a raucous second line complete with Mardi Gras costumes (schlepped all the way from New Orleans) provided a redemptive, celebratory ending.


The power of music elevated a maudlin play to become a spectacle to remember. The production was invited the following year to the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival.


Scenery | Ellen Rousseau

Sound | Katharine Horowitz

Costumes | Carol Sherry

Mardi Gras Costumes | Albert Carey and

    The Krewe of Armeinius (New Orleans)

Venue Management | Samantha Sewell

Stage Management | Timothy Babcock

Coordinating Director | Susan Grilli

Direction | Jef Hall-Flavin


Mme. Duvenet | Cristine McMurdo-Wallis 

Eloi | Ben Berry


Creole Tomato | Albert Carey

Creole Tomato | Channing Blakemoore

Creole Tomato | Tim Wolff

Horseradish | Dr. John Prejean

Tabasco | Will Andrews

Second Line Extravaganza | Chris Brooke, Tom DeMille, James Lombard, Marcia Mello, Melissa Nussbaum-Freeman


Clarinet | Mark Cheniver

Trombone | John Ferry

Sousaphone | Bryan MacMartin

Trumpet | Arty Barbato

Drums | Ted Larkin


[Josh Andrus]



“Auto-da-Fe” was captivating from moment one.


Set on the porch of the Gifford

House, a brass band led in the audience and set the mood.

Sue Harrison


"Auto-Da-Fe," a one-act, superbly directed by Jef Hall-Flavin, was performed on the porch at Gifford House, while the audience sat inside a tent on lawn chairs… The one-act ends, just as the Hot Tamale Brass Band emerges from the bowels of Gifford House and takes Ptown’s Carver Street by storm, replete with a costumed entourage carrying a black draped coffin. The effect was riotous and jolting. It undercut the tragedy that had just been performed on the porch, and fulfilled the mission of music in the Williams’ play, namely that it play on, even during the darkest depths of despair, to move us past our petty meanderings.

Robert Israel

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