Tennessee Williams (below), born in 1911, was an American playwright and author of many stage classics, including A Streetcar Named Desire, which is being performed at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts until Saturday. Williams suffered from depression and feared going mad. He was briefly institutionalised in 1969, after a severe nervous breakdown, and never forgave his younger brother, Walter, for allowing him to be put into a madhouse. He died in 1983, after choking on the cap of a bottle of eye drops. Among his works was The Notebook of Trigorin, a play adapted from the 1895 drama The Seagull, by one of his favourite writers, Anton Chekhov …

Considered one of the greatest writers of short stories, Chekhov, born in 1860, produced humorous sketches and vignettes of contemporary Russian life using pseudonyms including Antosha Chekhonte and Man Without a Spleen. He was also a physician and often treated patients for free. The Russian playwright’s musings on an island claimed at various times by both Russia and Japan is the subject of the poem Chekhov on Sakhalin, by Seamus Heaney …

Born in 1939 in Northern Ireland, the first of nine children, Heaney went on to become a leading poet, essayist, critic, playwright, editor, translator and lecturer. As well as having once accompanied Sai Kung resident and recent My Life subject David McKirdy on a pub crawl of Wan Chai, in 1995, Heaney won the Nobel Prize for literature, “for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”. He was also one of the writers of the 2013 movie Stay, starring Taylor Schilling …

Hitting the big time in the television series Orange is the New Black, playing protagonist Piper Chapman, the American actress keeps her private life just that, which is why she has talked about her dislike of social media. In 2011, Schilling caught the eye of actordirector Ben Affleck, who chose her to play his wife in hit movie Argo. The soundtrack to that movie includes Led Zeppelin’s version of When the Levee Breaks, sung by Robert Plant …

Born in West Bromwich, England, Plant almost became an accountant rather than the lead singer of one of the world’s most successful rock bands. Plant recorded the 1976 album Presence in a wheelchair after a car crash in Greece, one of many “hairy” situations he has found himself in – in 2007, he won the Beard of the Year award, which is given by the Beard Liberation Front, an association of facial hair fanciers. At one point, Led Zeppelin relied on the services of tour promoter Jerry Weintraub, who had undertaken the same task for Plant’s hero, Elvis Presley …

When the king of rock ‘n’ roll died, in 1977, it was estimated that there were about 170 Presley impersonators. Today, some estimates reckon 250,000 wannabes belt out Hound Dog and Suspicious Minds to bemused punters the world over. In the early 1970s, Presley would impersonate a police officer, driving around with a blue light, long flashlight and a gun. After pulling a car over, instead of giving a ticket, he would hand the driver an autograph (imagine Justin Bieber trying to get away with that!). Elvis was also the inspiration for Val Xavier, the lady-magnet drifter in the play Orpheus Descending, by Tennessee Williams.