Tennesse Williams

9th October 2015

A Streetcar Named Desire



Archive article

New! A Streetcar Named Desire will be screened on 25th November at Phoenix.

Screening in association with the University of the Third Age. Disturbed Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister in New Orleans and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law while her reality crumbles around her.

USA 1951, 120mins

This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama was one of the most influential plays of the twentieth century. Exploring the beauty, fragility and loneliness of the human experience, this production is set to be a highlight of our Autumn season.

The production will be at Curve from Friday 16th October to Saturday 7th November. Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece is brought to life in a new production directed by Curve Artistic Director, Nikolai Foster.

Tennessee Williams (1911 – 1983) was an American playwright and author who was among the most celebrated dramatists of the 20th century. His play A Street Car Named desire is regarded as one of the most acclaimed plays of the last century. Published in 1947, the play was awarded The Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1948. In 1951 a film version was released starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh alongside Kim Hunter and Karl Malden from the original Broadway production. This film adaptation of the play, directed by Elia Kazan,has been broadcast on UK television. It launched Brando’s career as a major film actor. Brando played the lead male role of Stanley Kowalski in a performance that has been hailed as one of the most influential of all time, for its gripping realism; he was nominated for an Academy Award for it.

The plot

New Orleans. 1930s. Blanche DuBois arrives at her sister’s tiny apartment in the lively French Quarter of New Orleans, her world falling apart and haunted by the loss of the family’s luxurious Southern mansion in Laurel, Mississippi. With broken dreams and a desperate desire to cling on to her freedom, Blanche seeks comfort from her younger, married, sister, Stella. But as tensions – and passions – rise, Blanche finds herself thrown into a catastrophic confrontation with Stella’s husband Stanley Kowalski. The penniless Blanche is trapped – she has nowhere else to go. Blanche suffers from nerves but continued to affect the airs and graces of her Southern upbringing, much to the dislike of the rough and common Stanley.

When Blanche was very young she married but her husband died, something that continues to distress her. Stanley is troubled by the family’s past history, believing that he and Stella might have been cheated out of their inheritance. Stanley demands that Blanche reveals what really happened to the house at Laurel and its large plantation. Blanche hands over a collection of documents, in which Stanley finds a bundle of love letters.

The night after Blanche arrives at her sister’s flat, Stanley holds a poker party. It is at this that Blanche meets Mitch, one of the poker players. Blanche finds him courteous and friendly and begins to flirt with him as he falls under her charms. The brutal and drunken Stanley becomes enraged at Blanche’s constant interruptions and strikes her. Blanche and Stella take refuge upstairs in the apartment of Eunice. Stanley sobers up somewhat, realising what he has done, and stands in the courtyard below calling for Stella to come down – in a scene that has become one of the most cited performances of the newly emergent method school of acting.

Despite having carried Blanche off to bed, Stanley continues to treat her appallingly and the tensions begin to rise between them. Stanley has been studying the documents Blanche gave him and discovers a history of mental instability and sexual promiscuity. Stanley’s harsh and bullying treatment of Stella ends with him raping her. Having a complete mental breakdown, Blanche is committed to a mental asylum. When a doctor and nurse arrive to take Blanche away, she fails to recognise them for who they really are; she takes the doctors arm and says her famous line: “Whoever you are — I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” With Blanche’s departure, Stella retreats to Eunice’s flat upstairs and says she is never coming back.

The film adaptation of then Tennessee Williams play is regarded as one of the finest productions in the history of cinema.

The Curve production

Directed by Nikolai Foster with stage designs by Michael Taylor, the company comprises Charlie Brooks as Blanche DuBois, Stewart Clarke as Stanley Kowalski, Dakota Blue Richards as Stella Kowalski, Sandy Foster as Eunice Hubbel, Mark Peachey as Steve Hubbel, Patrick Knowles as Mitch, Charlie De Melo as Pablo Gonzales, Nicholas Alexander as the Young Collector/Doctor and Natasha Magigi as the Nurse/Neighbour.

Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama was one of the most influential plays of the twentieth century. Exploring the beauty, fragility and loneliness of the human experience, this production is set to be a highlight of our Autumn season. Suitable for ages 12+.

There is also a theatre day for the play, on Wed 28 Oct 10.30am – 1pm. This provides a chance to meet the cast and creatives over a cup of tea, and participate in a backstage tour and on-stage workshop before seeing the show.

See also:

Our review of the Ridley Scott film The Martian.

Black History in 2015.

Young actors in Leicester drama.