A Streetcar Named Desire – 17th – 22nd JULY

Director: Julie Cumbo

Read through: Tuesday 7th March 7:30


Sunday 19th March at 2pm

Tuesday 21st March at 7.30


Begin May 3rd and will be mostly Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and with some Sundays towards the end of the schedule


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Tennessee Williams’s 1947 play “A Streetcar Named Desire” is the tale of a catastrophic confrontation between fantasy and reality, between romance and physical passion, and between the old plantation world of the deep south and the industrialised modern age.  These opposites are embodied in the characters of Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski.
The play takes place in New Orleans immediately after the Second World War in the Kowalskis’ apartment in a poor but vibrant, multicultural neighbourhood: the sound of jazz is never far away and the heat is oppressive. Fading southern belle, Blanche DuBois, arrives to stay with her sister Stella in a crowded, boisterous corner of the city, where her delusions of grandeur bring her into conflict with Stella’s crude, blue collar, brutish husband Stanley Kowalski. Blanche takes long baths, criticises the squalor of the apartment, and irritates Stanley. His friends come to the apartment to play poker and Blanche meets Mitch, prompting an immediate mutual attraction.  Eventually Blanche and Stanley’s violent collision course causes Blanche’s fragile sense of identity to crumble, threatening to destroy her sanity and her one chance of happiness.
Tennessee Williams’s steamy and shocking landmark drama, recreated in 1951 as the classic film starring Marlon Brando, is one of the most influential plays of the twentieth century, acknowledged as one of the greatest ever American plays.

Accents – American accents are needed but they need not be strong southern drawls: the New Orleans accent is not very different from a New York one.  Blanche’s southern belle accent is genteel, but Stella’s is less noticeable because of her years living in New Orleans.  Pablo and the Mexican woman should have Spanish accents.

The Characters

Blanche Dubois – A sensitive, complicated, contradictory and delicate woman, aged over thirty, something of a drinker and a fading beauty.  She is intelligent and educated, with an inclination to speak in rather fanciful, lofty, figurative language.  Her background was at one time wealthy but as the south declined (before oil was discovered!), so did her family’s wealth, and that of families like hers. She puts on airs, as if she has never known indignity but this is far from the truth.   As the play progresses, her instability grows and her grasp on reality slackens.
Audition pieces: 1) Page 16, Blanche’s monologue.  2) Top Page 63 to mid-65, with Mitch.
Stella Kowalski – Blanche’s younger sister, in her late twenties, married to Stanley and living in the lively, run-down French Quarter of New Orleans.  She has turned her back on her genteel upbringing and has clearly found physical fulfilment in her marriage to Stanley.   She is of a mild disposition and is different from her working class husband and neighbours.
Audition pieces: 1) Page 20-22, with Stanley.  2) Mid-page 44 – top 46, with Blanche.
Stanley Kowalski – A working class, macho man whose hobbies and values are those of a blue collar American man of the time: he drinks, plays poker, goes ten-pin bowling and expects to be the provider at home, in a patriarchal age.  He is in his thirties, has Polish ancestry and is married to Stella, their relationship being obviously based on an active sex life.  He is a physical and brutal man: he hits Stella during the play and rapes Blanche, showing no remorse.
Audition pieces:- 1) Page 20-22, with Stella.  2) Bottom page 70 to bottom 71, with Stella.
Harold Mitchell (Mitch) – Stanley’s friend, probably in his thirties, unmarried.   Though he is clumsy, sweaty, and with unrefined interests like muscle building, he is more sensitive and gentlemanly than Stanley and his other friends, perhaps because he lives with his mother, who is slowly dying: he looks after her with great devotion.  He is overawed by Blanche and grateful that she has taken an interest in him.
Audition pieces: 1) Top Page 63 to mid-65, with Blanche.  2) Page 84, with Blanche.
Eunice Hubell – 30s/40s.  With her husband, Steve, she lives in the apartment above Stanley and Stella and is their landlady. Eunice accepts her husband’s affections despite his physical abuse of her, something that Stella is learning, and so she represents the working class, carnal life that Stella has chosen.
Audition piece: Page 8 to mid- page 9, with Blanche.
Steve Hubell – 30s/40s.  With his wife, Eunice, he lives in the apartment above Stanley and Stella.  He is one of Stanley’s poker buddies, a brutish, hot-blooded man who is abusive to his wife.
Pablo – 30s/40s.  Another of Stanley’s poker buddies, Pablo is Hispanic, as is his accent, and so emphasises the cultural diversity of the neighbourhood.
Audition piece: Mitch, Stanley, Pablo and Steve – Page 31 – 32
A Young Collector  –  A teenager who comes to the Kowalskis’ door to collect for the newspaper when Blanche is home alone. He embodies Blanche’s obsession with youth and presumably reminds her of her teenage love, the young poet Allan Grey, who committed suicide.
Audition piece: Page 59-60, with Blanche.
A Doctor – any age. He arrives at the end of the play to take Blanche off to an asylum. He and the nurse initially seem to be heartless institutional caretakers, but, in the end, the doctor appears more kindly.
A Nurse –  any age.  She accompanies the doctor to collect Blanche and take her to an institution. She has a severe manner.
Audition piece: The doctor and the nurse – “strange man” and “strange woman”  – page 101 – 102
There are also several small female parts to be filled and these might well combine with other small parts eg the Nurse.  There are a prostitute, a black woman and a Mexican woman.

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