It was the Pullitzer prize-winning play that went on to become an Academy Award-winning film, now A Streetcar Named Desire is being revived on the Huddersfield stage.
The classic and powerful 1940s drama, which featured both Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh in the original productions, is the latest offering from Huddersfield Thespians at the Lawrence Batley Theatre .
Director Alistair Cheetham says it’s a play he has long admired. “I was surprised to find out that we had never done it before,” he added. “It’s a play that I have always liked; even now it stands up as a great piece of theatre.
“Most people will recognise the title from the film, but the film was an adaptation of the play. It’s 70 years old, but still resonates.”
A Streetcar Named Desire, by playwright Tennessee Williams, was first performed on Broadway back in 1947, starring Marlon Brando. It opened in London’s West End in 1949, with Vivien Leigh playing the leading role of Blanche DuBois, a dispossessed young widow who goes to live with her sister and brother-in-law. Both actors then reprised their roles in the 1951 movie version. The title comes from the New Orleans tram line Desire Lane, which ran from the 1920s to 1940s. In the play Blanche says: “They told me to take a streetcar named Desire and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at – Elysian Fields!”
With scenes of domestic violence and sexual assault, it is a work that evokes a strong reaction from audiences and will be challenging to produce. But Alistair believes the ‘claustrophobic atmosphere’ of the play suits the Lawrence Batley’s intimate theatre space, the Syngenta Cellar, where it is being performed.
It has a large cast of 12 and will be performed in period costume from the 1940s. Alistair says the focus of the action will be a cramped apartment. He added: “I want to tell the story from Blanche’s perspective, as if she is remembering it all.”
Playing the lead role of Blanche is Hannah Head, with Gareth Dickinson as the brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski and Leah Hamilton as his wife Stella. Blanche’s love interest Mitch is played by Matt Fairhead.
A Streetcar Named Desire, with its famous quotation ‘I have always depended on the kindness of strangers’, comes to the LBT from Tuesday, June 5, until Saturday, June 9. Tickets are £12 from thelbt.org.uk or 01484 430528.