South Camden Theatre Co. digs into Tennessee Williams canon

South Camden Theatre Company
South Camden Theatre Company will perform “Kingdom of Earth” next month. Credit: South Camden Theatre Company

Joseph M. Paprzycki strolls past not just one, but two portraits of Tennessee Williams in the lobby of his South Camden Theatre Company; as he turns a corner, he gestures to yet another: a wall-size photo of the playwright hung next to the theater’s concession stand.

“I’m not obsessed much, am I?” he says with a laugh.

As SCTC enters its ninth season, doubts surrounding the sustainability of a small professional theater on Camden’s South Side are beginning to fade. And Paprzycki is hoping to shift the conversation toward the goings on inside his 96-seat theater.

Over the years, SCTC’s founder — along with over a dozen part-time staff — has quietly carved out a regional niche as an interpreter of Tennessee Williams’ most rarely produced plays. And this October they will stage their sixth foray into the deeper recesses of the Williams’ cannon, as veteran Philly director Connie Norwood takes on the comic drama, “Kingdom of Earth.”

“I really feel a kinship with Williams: The more I discover, the more I want to discover,” says Paprzycki, standing on the half-constructed set for “Kingdom.” “I have no interest in doing ‘Streetcar’ or ‘Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.’ I get excited by giving our audience something they can’t see anywhere else.”

Humble beginnings
Completed in 2010, South Camden Theatre Company’s 96-seat theater was built on the site of a bar owned by artistic director Joseph M. Paprzycki’s grandfather. From 2005 to 2009, the company mostly performed in the basement of the nearby Sacred Heart Church.

‘Seven Descents’
“Kingdom of Earth” was originally produced on Broadway in 1968 under the enigmatic title, “The Seven Descents of Myrtle.” The play features a newlywed couple returning to the groom’s family homestead, where they must confront his closeted homosexuality – as well as a myriad of racial and sexual politics beginning to rise to the surface in the American South.

‘Kingdom of Earth’
Oct. 11–27
South Camden Theatre Company
400 Jasper St., Camden, N.J.
$15–$20, 866-811-4111
www.southcamdentheatre.org


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