Streetcar takes the stage

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A Streetcar Named Desire cast members (from left) Jason Fraser, Maggie Watts, Sophie Worner and Callum Fowler during rehearsals.

IT’S been 70 years since A Streetcar Named Desire first took the stage and instantly became a classic.

Repertory Invercargill will present a community theatre production of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play next week.

Starring Maggie Watts (Blanche DuBois), Callum Fowler (Stanley Kowalski), Sophie Worner (Stella Kowalski) and Jason Fraser (Harold “Mitch” Mitchell), the production is being directed by Phillie Holmes.

Set in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the late 1940s, ageing Southern belle Blanche arrives from Mississippi to stay with her younger sister Stella and her husband Stanley.

However, she has an antagonistic relationship with Stanley from the start.

Streetcar was probably Williams’ most famous work, Holmes said, with one of the reasons being Marlon Brando’s performance in the movie. He also starred in the original Broadway production.

“I think it’s certainly the one that’s stood the test of time… Everyone who hasn’t seen the play or even the film before does sort of know Streetcar through pop culture references.”

One particularly famous scene is where Brando’s character Stanley calls for his wife Stella.

Holmes said the Invercargill cast were doing amazing work in bringing the story to life, especially with the southern accents, challenging material and characters.

“These are all fairly familiar faces to Southland audiences in this cast and I can guarantee that no-one has ever seen them in roles like this before,” she said.

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s such a great group of people to work with.”

Holmes directed Equusfor the society last year and said she wanted to direct Streetcar because it was one of her favourite plays.

“I do like a challenge as well and I was aware that it had never been done down here before. I just thought ‘why not’, really.”

She said it was also a cool coincidence that it was the 70th anniversary of the play this year.

Holmes said she thought the drama should have universal appeal, although because of some of its themes it wasn’t appropriate for younger audiences. However, high school pupils were encouraged to attend, as it was one of the approved texts for NCEA drama, she said.

“Hopefully we’ll be getting a few [drama pupils] along for our dress rehearsal to come in for a koha/donation, and we are looking at donating that to Women’s Refuge, given some of the themes of the play,” she said.

“It is a serious drama, there’s not a lot of laughs, but it is a contemporary classic really and definitely worth coming to watch.”

A Streetcar Named Desire, Repertory House, cnr Esk and Jed Sts, Invercargill. August 16-19, 7.30pm. Tickets available from the Invercargill City Council booking office and TicketDirect. Contains adult themes.

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