Firehouse Theatre Explores Powerful Female Roles with “A Streetcar Named Desire”
“When most people think of Streetcar, they think of Marlon Brando going, “Stella! Stella!” but the play is so much more than that. These are real human dilemmas that don’t have easy answers.”
Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire will be playing at the Firehouse Theatre at 1609 West Broad Street. The show runs April 17 through May 17. Tickets are $35 for adults, $29 for seniors 65+ and $16 for students, military, and RAPT. You can snag your tickets here.
Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, known around the Firehouse as Dr. T, is directing the show. Streetcar is her favorite Tennessee Williams play, and she is quite pleased with how the show is coming along so far. “It is a great American classic piece of theatre. The story is very compelling to me,” she said, “When most people think of Streetcar, they think of Marlon Brando going, “Stella! Stella!” but the play is so much more than that. These are real human dilemmas that don’t have easy answers.”
Most people are familiar with the play, either they have seen it in a theatre or watched the 1951 film with Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh, but this Streetcar will be different.
“When you see our Streetcar Named Desire, you’re not going to see those iconic characters. You’re going to see yourself in them,” says Dr. T, “The actors I’ve cast in these roles give it real life—real human experience. I think thematically these problems they face are things that people today in contemporary times can really relate to.”
In addition to the powerful script, Dr. T also loves Tennessee Williams’ female characters in the play. “The characters he has drawn for the women in the play are extremely strong. For example, having Blanche DuBois be an actual sexual being, you know, a woman in control of her own sexuality, back in those days that was taboo and cutting edge,” Dr. T says.
And Dr. T said these themes in Streetcar are all still relevant. “There is a double standard even today for men and women in regards to their behavior. Men are sort of thought of as making conquest—they are rewarded for their sexual prowess, whereas women are categorized as being loose or whores or sluts,” says Dr. T, “And we are still having this conversation today.”
While hard at work in preparation for the show, Dr. T has discovered a lot of humor within the play. She is excited to recreate the unique atmosphere of the New Orleans quarter with the live music and even a jazz singer. “I’m looking forward to the audience’s reaction,” Dr. T says.
Dr. T hopes to blur the lines between protagonist and antagonist. “We are attempting not to make anyone the hero or the villain, even though there are heroic and villainous things that happen in the play,” she said, “I would like the audience to see that all of us have the capacity to be both of those things. It’s about the choices we make. Any of us, given the circumstances of the characters in the play, could have made the same choices.” Dr. T wants the audiences to walk away with a sense of compassion for all of the characters.
Dr. T is looking forward to the preview night of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Firehouse Theatre on April 17 at 8:00 PM and opening night on April 18 at 8:00 PM with free parking provided by Lowe’s.
“These characters all seem to be facing ethical, moral dilemmas. And the choices that they make affect the other people in the play, and consequently the outcome of the play,” says Dr. T, “This is Tennessee Williams’ finest work.”
I’m Lindsay Hawk. I am currently studying Sculpture + Extended Media at VCU, along with Biology and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. I enjoy making art about social issues, nudity, and sexuality. If I’m not in the studio, I’m probably exploring the outdoors, visiting art openings, talking to strangers, or chowing down on some local RVA cuisine. Find more of my work at www.lindsayhawk.com
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