Q&A with “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” Director, Bill Fikaris!

In Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” the dysfunctional but wealthy Pollitt family gathers to celebrate aging patriarch Big Daddy’s birthday. But there is more to this gathering than a family reunion – lurking under every practiced interaction between the Pollitts is an ulterior motive, under every smile, a challenge, and under every statement, the specter of mendacity. For the Pollitts, the truth is as hazy as the late summer sun in Mississippi, and sometimes the only way to find it is to journey through the lies.

We spoke with Bill Fikaris, director of Haddonfield Plays & Players’ upcoming production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, about the show:

What is the show about?

“Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” by Tennessee Williams was written in 1940 and was re-written two times since then with the 1974 version being the one Williams liked best. It is the 1974 version that we are presenting here at HP&P. First staged in 1955, “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” is about the dynamics between members of a wealthy southern family. It is a play about the destructive, fatal power of lies, about how people lie in order to maintain societal harmony and to not disturb preconceived notions, and about the difficulty families have with telling the truth. The stage play is so far supreme over the motion picture starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman which was released in 1958.

What most drew you to directing this show?

First off, it’s Tennessee Williams, one of the most prolific and influential playwrights of the 20th century American drama. He writes challenging parts for actors which in turn helps the director guide the actors to greater heights. Having Williams’ listed on a resume only displays the magnitude of what an actor or director are capable of. This play was initially written 78 years ago and yet it is so incredibly relevant today. Making the audience identify with the play is what most excites me about this project.

What are your favorite moments or standout moments from the show?

Their are many poignant moments in this play that are very touching, engaging and beautifully acted. Moments that I would rather not share and only let the audiences discover them themselves. Those moments are sure to tug at your heart strings!

Does the show have a message?

Yes, most definitely! When Tennessee Williams wrote “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.” he wasn’t writing a classic, he was writing a play about the human dilemma. His very first audience wasn’t watching a classic—they were seeing themselves, their mothers, their wives, their husbands, their fathers, up on the stage. They saw their own problems being confronted, their own demons being released, their own joys shattered and resurrected. In order to keep being the play it was intended to be, “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” needs to stop being a classic the night we watch it.

How does this production differ from other stagings of it?

This is far different from any stage version performed that I’m aware of. My vision and what I wanted to convey for the show, that it display not only the strengths and weaknesses of the characters, but also the underlying humor of this crazy, dysfunctional family. Every character throughout this play goes thru some kind of change. I would call this more of a dramedy and that’s how I would like it to be received. You might chuckle for a brief second and shed a tear the next. I want audiences who might be afraid to attend thinking this a heavy, boring drama, basing it on what they know or perhaps not know of Williams, not to fear attending and take the risk. His famous lyricism is the music of truth, not of accent or location or period, and that’s how he created classics and award winning plays. The audience will be happy they did!

What is one thing audience should know about Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at HP&P?

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” won the Pulitzer Prize and Drama Critics Circle Award in 1955 and is an exhilarating piece of theatre. On any given night in the theatre, the play being performed should feel to an audience like it’s never been performed before. No matter how many centuries, how many continents, how many theaters have seen its production, the audience who see it should view it as the only time the story has ever been told or ever will be again!

Come and see wonderful live theatre at HP&P and be prepared to be deeply moved by our stellar cast!

Show Dates Thursday, May 10 at 7:30pm (Preview) Friday, May 11 at 8:00pm (Opening) Saturday, May 12 at 8:00pm Sunday, May 13 at 2:00pm Wednesday, May 16 at 8:00pm (Mid-week special) Friday, May 18 at 8:00pm Saturday, May 19 at 3:00pm (Markdown Matinee) & 8:00pm Sunday, May 20 at 2:00pm Thursday, May 24 at 8:00pm Friday, May 25 at 8:00pm (Date Night) Saturday, May 26 at 8:00pm

About Haddonfield Plays & Players - Celebrating our 85th Season!

Haddonfield Plays & Players is a gathering of dedicated individuals who come together to provide quality theater at an affordable price to a wide range of Delaware Valley audiences, as well as to provide a creative outlet for non-professionals, all in an atmosphere of personal and social enrichment that is open to all persons with a commitment to non-profit theater. Haddonfield Plays and Players is located at 957 East Atlantic Ave., Haddonfield, NJ, 08033.