Hilarious Theatrical Mashup Brings Classic Characters to Life at Alleyway Theatre’s ‘Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf’, Listen to the full interview with the Playwright Tim Sniffen

Tim Sniffen, playwright and author of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf, playing Alleyway Theatre from April 26 – May 18, grew up telling funny stories to his family members.  “I would do a lot of trying to entertain them, especially at dinner…I loved trying to make the adults in the room laugh, and when I was a kid, it was all adults.” 

Sniffen eventually took that love of humor and storytelling to Chicago’s famed Second City comedy school. The experience was one that taught him a lot about the art of storytelling, and listening to audience feedback.  “Any like bits of ego I may have had, around like choices on stage or especially writing, it just gets pummeled out of you. In a good way. You stop being precious…you get two hundred, three hundred people giving you feedback on your ideas nightly, and sometimes that feedback is not what you were hoping for. But that’s the thing, you stop mourning your precious idea and you get back to ‘Great, how can I change this? Or how can I throw this out completely, and do something else?” 

This desire to find the biggest laughs and the best stories guided Sniffen as he wrote, Death of A Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf.  The play, making its regional premiere at Alleyway, takes characters from classic works of dramatic literature, including Stanley and Stella, Salesman Willy, George and Martha, and a New England Narrator, and puts them all in a New Orleans estate during a sweltering summer night.  “We tried to make the show such that you don’t have to come in being familiar, you know, like having instant recall of all these shows. It is meant to lovingly celebrate them, and also kind of bring everyone in on the jokes. If you’re like, ‘Yeah, I think I saw that in high school, but I don’t remember every last bit of it,’ you will still have a good time.”

The title came from Kelly Leonard, a Second City producer, who asked Sniffen if it could be a sketch show at the famed venue.  However, Sniffen thought it could be “a full piece, because the [characters] that you’re dragging into it from different places are from complete shows…It was created in a very improvisational way, which is throwing around ideas and seeing what works well together…People were laughing and that led to like, ‘let’s do this, this can be a show.’” 

WNY Soundstage
Playwright Tim Sniffen on Humor, Improv, and Bringing Classic Characters to Life in his New Play at Alleyway Theatre



Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 00:29:57 | Recorded on April 30, 2024

“It’s the perfect time to produce something like this,” said Chris J Handley, Executive Artistic Director of Alleyway,

People are ready to laugh, and this piece will make sure they do, while lovingly celebrating some of the best characters and scenarios in the American Theater Cannon.

Sniffen hopes audiences laugh during his work, but he also hopes the conversation after the show would make audience members want to re-engage with the theatrical source material.  “Our play is meant to be kind of a big buffet of the things that you either remember, or are inspired by from these classic shows … Because [Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf] was written with a ton of love for all those shows. So, if it kind of puts [the originals] back into people’s minds for a little while, that is a huge win for me.” 

Death Of A Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf is on stage at Alleyway Theatre from April 26, 2024 – May 18, 2024. Tickets are available here.  

The post Hilarious Theatrical Mashup Brings Classic Characters to Life at Alleyway Theatre’s ‘Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf’, Listen to the full interview with the Playwright Tim Sniffen appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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