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Mangling Tennessee

February 27, 1988

Robert Koehler quotes Christine Lahti as having said, without a trace of regret, apropos of her characterization of Alma in Tennessee Williams' "Summer and Smoke," "I've ignored all his stage directions" ("Lahti Charts Her Own Course Through 'Summer and Smoke,' " Feb. 17).

Then in Dan Sullivan's review ("Lahti Plays With Fire in 'Smoke,' " Feb. 20), Sullivan observed, "Still, there's some truth to the notion that once a play leaves the typewriter it becomes the property of the actors." Some truth? Damn little.

Since Lahti finds her own judgment so superior, I suggest that instead of distorting Williams' creation, she write her own play. Then it will indeed be, in truth, her property, "once it leaves the typewriter," to mangle as she chooses.

"The property of the actors"? Why not the property of the director, the producer, the backers?

Chrissy-baby, give some thought to a line from Euripides, quoted in Boswell's "Life of Dr. Johnson"--"Those whom the gods destroy they first make mad."

DAVID GREGGORY

Los Angeles

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