WILLIAM JAY SMITH | The Straw Market: A Comedy
The second of our presentations of Ford Foundation-commissioned works for the American stage that were a part of a 1960’s effort to attract writers of poetry and fiction to the world of the theatre is William Jay Smith’s The Straw Market, written as a part of a residency at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage. George Garrett’s Garden Spot U.S.A. appeared last fall.
The Straw Market holds particular memories for me, as I was a freshman at Hollins College (now University) in 1965-66 and was a member of the lowly prop crew for the actual production. I am indelibly imprinted with the intensity of the yellow ocher in the sets representing the walls of Florence and with the tippiness of the café tables we constructed (a slight impediment when you were trying to make a quiet and quick scene change). Therefore, I am deeply grateful to William Jay Smith for letting us give The Straw Market a new moment in Blackbird and to Henry Taylor, a ’65-66 student in the MA Creative Writing program, for providing a memory and a mise en scene based on his status as a member of the original cast. The following excerpt from the 1966 Hollins Alumnae Bulletin gives the outline of the event.