The play, A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Benedict Andrews, was performed in the Young Vic Theatre in London. Our year 13 class, with other schools got the great opportunity to head to Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast, to view an on-screen recording of the Tennessee William’s play on 7th October.
The director, Benedict Andrews, gave Williams’ play a more modern twist. Andrews kept the acting space in perpetual motion, with the stage design being a skeletal rectangle that constantly revolved. This provided us with a shifting perspective of the home in New Orleans, where the main character, Blanche DuBois, played by Gillian Anderson, fleeing from her past, came to stay with her sister Stella, played by Vanessa Kirby, and her brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski, played by Ben Foster, who is far from welcoming.
The revolving set, which represented the Kowalski’s home, contained all white, clinical furniture, very cramped. As the modern apartment building was built with a cage-like structure, it was very open-plan, with no hiding place, which is symbolic to the play. As the set revolved, it enabled us to see everything that went on, from Blanche, having her head down the toilet, to Stanley, in his vicious-drunk state, being ‘dunked’ by his friends, fellow poker players, in the bath. The costumes Andrews used were contemporary designer clothes, which further modernised the play.
Furthermore, the director maintained Williams’ idea in regards to the music which underscored the drama, with the likes of the ‘hot trumpet and drums’ music. However, along with this underscoring, Andrews also gets dramatic music to erupt in the deliberately mood-breaking scene changes. In these scene changes, we saw the lighting change to different, darker colours, as they prepared for the next scene.
In the final scene of the play, we watched as Blanche was taken away by a doctor and matron to an asylum. These three characters were cleverly directed as they made an unhurried progression around the perimeter of the stage, Blanche on the arm of the doctor, gazing upwards with a fragile smile. It is here, in these final abrupt moments that Benedict Andrews enabled us to feel a sense of remorse for Blanche and the abhorrent and deplorable future she had ahead.
Going to see A Streetcar Named Desire in Queen’s Film Theatre was a great, fun-packed experience with my class, and I would love to return to view more plays in the future.
By Deborah Mills 13LG