Dear Theatre Goers,
As artistic director of the Bobcat Players, I have tried for the past decade to give our audiences seasons with varied titles, hoping for a balance among several genres. There has been no shortage of side-splitting farces and gently humorous comedies on our stage, and for the most part they have been greeted enthusiastically. But as a company we also have been committed to dramas both contemporary and classic. Proudly we have brought to our audiences Bus Stop, The Drawer Boy, Picnic, and Tuesdays With Morrie, to cite just a few. All have proven to be worth the risk.
This season we take perhaps our biggest plunge with the production of Tennessee Williams’ beautiful classic, A Streetcar Named Desire. The dark tale of the downward spiral of heroine Blanche Dubois, who is no match for her rough-edged brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski, this is among the most complex works in the mid twentieth century theatre canon. Blanche was born and raised a conventional Southern belle on a sweeping Mississippi estate. But fortune has not been kind to her, and so she is forced to leave her life of privilege. As the play opens, Blanche has arrived via the rickety streetcar, Desire, at the cramped tenement of her sister’s home in the French quarter of New Orleans. There, far from her genteel Southern plantation past, she intrudes on the passionate life of Stella and Stanley, who are unaccustomed to house guests. Couple this scenario with the gradual unfolding of Blanche’s own sordid past, and you have a drama charged with sexual tension and undercurrents of anguish and rage. It is filled with surprises that are disturbing, even shocking.
Williams is truly a master of characterization, plot, and language. His Stanley, Stella, Blanche, and her suitor, the gentle, soft-spoken Mitch, are among the giants that have graced the American stage since the late 1940s. They are engaging, compelling, and universal in their hunger for love and their longing for an escape from bitter loneliness. In New Orleans, where decadence reigns and hot jazz infiltrates the thick summer air, they enact a symbolic dance of repressed desires and violence that smolders constantly beneath the surface. From spring to fall, Blanche, an unwelcome intruder, tries desperately to cling to her self respect and to build a new life of hope with Mitch. But her goals are thwarted again and again by Stanley, who is relentless in his pursuit of what really happened in her past.
Why produce Streetcar on our stage? Because it is incredible drama that tackles so many relevant themes: abuse, addiction, mental illness, class conflicts. Because it is majestic writing that transcends all eras. Because it is iconic. Because it is an intense exploration of the human condition. Because it is a show that tugs at our heartstrings the way good theatre should.
My hope is that our audiences embrace the plight of Blanche Dubois, who is as much a victim of her own lost dreams as she is of Stanley’s cruelty and contempt. I want them to sit on the edges of their seats as they wait to discover how this clash of personalities will end. I want them to become invested in the beautiful monologues and dialogues that Williams poetically creates. Most of all, I want them to lose themselves for the space of two hours in the world of the Kowalskis and the Dubois, to ride with them along the rocky byways on that infamous streetcar named desire.