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The Night of the Iguana
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Group Reads: Pre-1990 > Initial Impressions: The Night of the Iguana: January 2018

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message 1: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new)

Tom Mathews | 2688 comments Mod
Travel with us a little further south than usual this January as we rediscover Tennessee Williams' timeless classic.

Comments on this board should be written with the assumption that not all readers have finished the book. Please avoid revealing any spoilers.


Sara (taking a break) (phantomswife) | 1317 comments My library has this one, so I will be joining the read. That is a very interesting photo, Tom.


Patrick John Huston's 1964 film version of this play with Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Deborah Kerr is excellent and underrated. It was filmed in and around Puerto Vallarta. Huston, Burton, and Elizabeth Taylor (not in the film, but hanging out with her husband), all loved the town and purchased properties there, setting in motion the process that changed it from a small fishing village into a major tourist resort.


message 4: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4268 comments Mod
My library has the film and also the play. I will definitely watch the film, which I remember vaguely from many years ago. I dislike reading plays, but I'll give this one a try.


Dustincecil | 178 comments I've got my copy ready to go for new years...


Judi | 456 comments Happy New Year. OK, I am settling in with this book. Reading the staging, the set, the ambiance. I'm there in my mind. I used to live in Puerto Rico years ago. I feel the beach, the tropical vibe, the old hotel and the iguanas. And so it begins. . . . .


message 7: by L.K. (new)

L.K. Simonds | 18 comments Oh Lord, Judi. Now I’m primed to start reading too. Good post. Thanks!


Patrick Judi wrote: "Happy New Year. OK, I am settling in with this book. Reading the staging, the set, the ambiance. I'm there in my mind. I used to live in Puerto Rico years ago. I feel the beach, the tropical vibe, ..."

I live in Mexico partly because of this play! I wanted to visit Puerto Vallarta because I adored the movie, which was shot on location there. I went in 2003 and again in 2005, and fell in love with the country. I have lived here since 2011, first in Culiacán, then in Mexico City, now in Querétaro.


Judi | 456 comments Patrick wrote: "Judi wrote: "Happy New Year. OK, I am settling in with this book. Reading the staging, the set, the ambiance. I'm there in my mind. I used to live in Puerto Rico years ago. I feel the beach, the tr..."

Well, it seems that we are ready to plunge in.


Sara (taking a break) (phantomswife) | 1317 comments Well, it is cold and uncomfortable here right now, so I am looking forward to escaping to someplace tropical for a while. Now, to gather my courage and get out in the deep freeze to the library to pick up the book!


message 11: by Judi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judi | 456 comments I like reading the play format.


Dustincecil | 178 comments All these people do is talk, talk, talk...


message 13: by Judi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judi | 456 comments I like reading a play format. It keeps things focused. No meandering. One's imagination can fill in the tropical ambiance.


Patrick I have always loved reading plays; Ibsen is one of my favorite authors. And well, Shakespeare!


message 15: by Judi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judi | 456 comments Patrick wrote: "I have always loved reading plays; Ibsen is one of my favorite authors. And well, Shakespeare!"

I like Shakespeare. The play that stands out in memory is Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe by Edward Albee. Some friends and I opted to perform a scene from that play for our "final" in high school drama class. (Mind you this was back in 1967). My idea and we were tossed out of class. Received "F's" for our choice of work.


message 16: by Judi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judi | 456 comments I think I might nominate Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams at some point. Perhaps in the sweltering summer months.


Patrick Judi wrote: "Patrick wrote: "I have always loved reading plays; Ibsen is one of my favorite authors. And well, Shakespeare!"

I like Shakespeare. The play that stands out in memory is Who's Afraid of Virginia W..."


I'm an English teacher and I would have given you an A+, so there you go.


Brina I try to read 10 plays a year or more. Currently I am in a personal Pulitzer challenge so my attempt is to read 5 winners this year plus other assorted plays, especially lesser known plays by famous playwrights e.g. Williams, Miller. I enjoyed the ageism, classism, sexism aspect of this play in regards to the time period it was set in.


message 19: by Franky (last edited Jan 03, 2018 08:59PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Franky | 331 comments Patrick wrote: "I have always loved reading plays; Ibsen is one of my favorite authors. And well, Shakespeare!"

Love Shakespeare. Hamlet is one of my favorites.

I found "The Night of the Iguana" at the library, with a collection of Williams' other plays. Pretty cool. It seems like TCM is always playing the film of this, I recollect seeing it on like a month ago. Anyhow, I've never watched it through so now's my chance. I'll get to starting this one as soon as I can. I enjoyed "A Streetcar Named Desire" both play and film, so hopefully this will be the same.


message 20: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4268 comments Mod
I went to the library, got the play, sat down to read, and finally figured out why I dislike reading plays so much. When I open a book, I want to disappear inside the story, leave the real world behind, and become one with the characters. When I'm reading a play, the stage directions and set descriptions take me out of the dialogue and abruptly snap me back into reality. I know that doesn't bother a lot of people, but it's a game changer for me. I'll wait for the movie on TCM.


Sara (taking a break) (phantomswife) | 1317 comments It doesn't bother me as a rule, Diane. I tend to read it in a kind of translation in my head. For instance..exit stage right becomes "Pamela rose and left the room". :)


Candi (candih) | 208 comments I picked up my copy yesterday but am not certain when I can start. Diane, I was never quite inclined to read plays in the past for the reasons you stated. However, I did read A Streetcar Named Desire a couple of years ago and was pleasantly surprised. We'll see if this one keeps my attention or not :)


Candi (candih) | 208 comments Sara wrote: "It doesn't bother me as a rule, Diane. I tend to read it in a kind of translation in my head. For instance..exit stage right becomes "Pamela rose and left the room". :)"

I like the way you think, Sara!


message 24: by Judi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judi | 456 comments Candi wrote: "Sara wrote: "It doesn't bother me as a rule, Diane. I tend to read it in a kind of translation in my head. For instance..exit stage right becomes "Pamela rose and left the room". :)"

I like the wa..."


I like the way you think as well Sara. Down the road I plan to nominate Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Perhaps this coming summer.


message 25: by Doug H (last edited Jan 12, 2018 12:59PM) (new) - added it

Doug H Judi wrote: "Down the road I plan to nominate Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Perhaps this coming summer."

Great play, but we read it as a group fairly recently (December 2016). Someone nominated The Glass Menagerie not too far back and it received a lot of votes - second runner up I think. Maybe we should try nominating that one again. It’s brilliant.

I’m planning to read Night of the Iguana before the end of the month, but not expecting too much. I like his early plays, but suspect his later work might be weaker. Drugs and drink do take their toll.


message 26: by Doug H (new) - added it

Doug H Diane wrote: "I went to the library, got the play, sat down to read, and finally figured out why I dislike reading plays so much. When I open a book, I want to disappear inside the story, leave the real world be..."

Williams wrote this as a short story before he adapted it into a play so you could also give that a try if you’re curious. Not sure how widely available it is in libraries, but it might be.
See here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...


Sara (taking a break) (phantomswife) | 1317 comments Found Act 1 fairly boring, which isn't a word I have ever attached to Tenn. Williams before. Sigh.


message 28: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Doug wrote: "Diane wrote: "I went to the library, got the play, sat down to read, and finally figured out why I dislike reading plays so much. When I open a book, I want to disappear inside the story, leave the..."
Thanks, Doug. I believe it is also available in the Library of America, Complete Works of Tennessee Williams. Perhaps more available in libraries.


message 29: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Sara wrote: "Found Act 1 fairly boring, which isn't a word I have ever attached to Tenn. Williams before. Sigh."

Yes, Sara, I thought Act One was quite slow with the extended dialogue from Shannon on the Baptist School Teachers getting out of the bus. I enjoyed the interplay between the Widow Faulk and Shannon and Fred the fisherman's fate.


message 30: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Sara wrote: "It doesn't bother me as a rule, Diane. I tend to read it in a kind of translation in my head. For instance..exit stage right becomes "Pamela rose and left the room". :)"

Absolutely, Sara. For me, Williams stage notes, particularly on setting description are very effective in giving the reader a precise idea of the environment in which the characters move. Like you, having done a number of plays in community theatre, the stage notes translate easily. Perhaps another way of putting it is as though you're watching a foreign film with subtitles. The subtitles are almost subconsciously absorbed. Nothing is lost in translation. :)


message 31: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4268 comments Mod
Thanks for the suggestion, Doug. I'll look for that short story collection. Lawyer, (sigh), I don't care for films with subtitles either. But I will continue to follow the discussion, and just consider myself deficient in this particular genre of literature.


message 32: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "Thanks for the suggestion, Doug. I'll look for that short story collection. Lawyer, (sigh), I don't care for films with subtitles either. But I will continue to follow the discussion, and just cons..."

Try WINE!GRIN. I've never known you to be deficient in a darned thing!


message 33: by Joey (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joey Anderson | 56 comments Diane wrote: "I went to the library, got the play, sat down to read, and finally figured out why I dislike reading plays so much. When I open a book, I want to disappear inside the story, leave the real world be..."

Now, I rather like reading plays, but this one almost requires that one watch it. I have finished the play, but I have to admit that I was moving quite well with the characters until I hit a wall in Act III, and nothing seemed to make sense.

So I rented the film, was amazed and thrilled, and remembered that plays are to be seen, not read. No playwright, I would think, would want people to simply read his or her plays.

Watch the film and I think you will enjoy this play immensely. The acting is superb and the actors and the setting bring this play to life. Yet, I wonder how this play would work on the stage. How would you create a Mexican beach and hotel, not to mention the ocean, on a stage.

I'm reading the play a second time, for I discovered that this play is much more difficult, for a number of reasons than Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The Glass Menagerie.


message 34: by Patrick (last edited Jan 16, 2018 06:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Patrick I love reading plays and can do a pretty good "staging" in my mind, but there is no doubt that watching a great interpretation live or on film can make you look at the text in a completely new light. I saw a workshop production of Macim Gorky's Enemies once and read the play in advance. It impressed me on the page, but in performance, wow, it came across as a masterpiece.

So I think that the optimum approach is to do both - read, and view. Unfortunately, opportunities to interact with many plays in performance are rare, especially if you don't live in a big city. And there is no guarantee that a performance or film will be a good one; films are usually quite altered from the original texts.


Sara (taking a break) (phantomswife) | 1317 comments Of course, I agree that plays are meant to be seen and not read, but reading plays has its own reward. There are a lot of subtle things one misses unless they see a play repeatedly. I don't think this is Williams at his best, but I would like to see a production of this or at least the movie version before I made a full judgment.


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