In 2014, fresh after their award-winning success with Kingdom of Earth and The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer got special permission from the Tennessee Williams Estate to adapt his 1945 short story One Arm for the stage. The production was highly acclaimed by the local press who hailed it as “Riveting theatre”, noting the play was “haunting, visceral, intellectually satisfying” and “pure magic.” This February, One Arm returns to the Artscape stage from 9 -19 February, prior to its tour of the USA.
Written in 1940s and initially published in an expensive limited edition, One Arm tells of an aspiring boxer who loses his arm in a car accident and turns to prostitution for a living. The young hustler violently murders a client and sentenced to death for this crime. On death-row, he receives hundreds of letters from former clients explaining how deeply he touched their lives. One Arm is one of Williams’ most poignant portraits of a mutilated body and soul.
Throughout his life Williams was excited by the dramatic potential of One Arm and adapted it for the screen in the late 1960s but sadly the film was never produced. In 1972 Williams wrote that he conceived One Arm “as a dark poem whose theme is the prevalence of mutilations among us all, and their possible transcendence.”
Abrahamse and Meyer adapted One Arm as a tour-de-force for two actors focusing on the central relationship between the convicted hustler and a young Lutheran Minister who visits him on death row.
Marcel Meyer plays Oliver Winemiller, the boxer turned hustler with Matthew Baldwin as the young Lutheran Minister. Meyer has received international accolades as a Williams leading man, impressing with several of his leading roles in plays like Sweet Bird of Youth and The Night of the Iguana. Baldwin too, is a fine interpreter of Williams, having recently played Tom in The Glass Menagerie and Mint in The Remarkable Rooming House of Mme. Le Monde.
For the past decade, Abrahamse and Meyer Productions have annually presented a series of award-winning productions of Tennessee Williams plays in the Mother City and the United States, starting with Kingdom of Earth in 2012, continuing with The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore , One Arm , The Day on Which A Man Dies , The Hotel Plays , Two by Tenn , Sweet Bird of Youth , In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel, The Night of the Iguana and The Glass Menagerie in 2019 and concluding with Tennessee Williams: The Blue Piano/The Blue Guitar  as their most recent offering. These productions have collectively won four of the fourteen Fleur du Cap Awards for which they were nominated.
Award-winning Fred Abrahamse directs and designs the set, with Faheem Bardien [Lighting Design], Charl-Johan Lingenfelder [original score] and Marcel Meyer [costume design] making up the remainder of the creative team.
One Arm forms part of Abrahamse and Meyer’s Summer Season of World Theatre launched in November last year with a highly acclaimed production of Yukio Mishima’s The Lady Aoi. One Arm will play in repertory with Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.
Williams fans can take the opportunity to see both plays on the same evening for a highly discounted price, under the TWO BY TENN: TENNESSEE WILLIAMS FESTIVAL booking offer.
The producers are also offering a two-for-the-price-of-one Valentines special on 14 and 15 February.
One Arm runs from 9 – 19 February in the Artscape Arena. Evening performances start at 18:00 with matinees at 15:00. Tickets range from R125 – R250 and booking is open at Computicket, Shoprite, Checkers outlets, Computicket on line and Artscape Dial-a-Seat 021 421 7695. There are discounts for students/scholars, pensioners and block bookings of10 or more. These are only available at the
The Artscape Box Office.
By Tennessee Williams
Adapted for the stage by Fred Abrahamse & Marcel Meyer
Directed & designed by Fred Abrahamse
Starring Marcel Meyer & Matthew Baldwin
Lighting Design: Faheem Bardien
Original Score: Charl-Johan Lingenfelder
Costume Design: Marcel Meyer
Artscape Arena, Cape Town: 9 – 19 February 2022
Tickets: R125 – R250.
Booking at Computicket / Artscape Dial-a-Seat 021 421 7695