The Dixie State University theater program has graced the main stage of the Eccles Fine Arts Center with a great American classic that will stir your soul and leave you remembering every second of it.
“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams is now in production and running until its closing night on Saturday. Directed by associate theater professor Michael Harding, the play is double cast with the main roles, and each night the roles will be played by a different mix of actors.
“This style of working is something I’ve always wanted to play with, and by that, I mean the educational side of it,” Harding said. “The fun part is [the actors] won’t know until that night who they are playing. What that’s teaching them to do is listen and be aware of what’s on stage instead of going on and doing it mechanically.”
The story unfolds from the very beginning when three of the main characters begin to interact. Blanche goes to New Orleans to visit her sister, Stella, and Stella’s husband, Stanley. The social constructs of the story may have changed since its original time frame, but the emotions are still prevalent. The power and emotional struggles exchanged among each relationship resonated with the audience throughout the play.
“The big word that comes to mind is desire – it’s in the title,” said Alexander Pizzo, a sophomore integrated studies major from Santa Barbara, California, and one of the actors playing Stanley. “It’s about the carnality of human nature. It seems like such a simple thing … It’s very powerful to say the least.”
The first act is a build up and ends with a bang, leaving the audience feeling the complexity of the each relationship, though especially between Stella and Stanley. With two more acts to go, it leaves people wanting more.
“It’s intense,” said Charles Sean Bronsena, a junior theater major from Palm Coast, Florida, and one of the actors to play Stanley. “It’s raw, it’s powerful and it’s heavy. Every night I’ve done it so far I am exhausted. As an audience member, if I’m exhausted, you should be, too. I’m not the only one up there, and you’re getting the full array of what’s happening.”
The character of Stanley Kowalski is commonly described as animalistic. Both actors playing Stanley have described the process of becoming him to be difficult and tiring, and “probably one of the hardest [roles] I’ve ever done,” Pizzo said.
“He’s an alpha-male through and through – a jerk who does mean things,” Bronsena said. “It feels pretty good having looked at what I’ve done and the emotional array that I’ve given him but still keeping it true to the character.”
The rehearsals and long hours put in by the cast and crew are evident – the set is beautiful and intricate and the audience can see both indoor and outdoor representations of each scene. As the play is set in the late 1940s, each tech element is as crucial to the making or breaking of the play as the actors’ performances are.
“This has been the most difficult sound design I’ve ever done,” said Boo Fahrner, a junior theater major from St. George, and sound designer for the play. “Trying to find good sound recording from the 1930s [and ‘40s] is so hard. Trying to get the feel of the show and what each scene is has been really difficult, but it’s been fun.”
The lighting design was just as impressive. It directed the action of what happened at each point during the story as light flowed through old, era appropriate lamps and fixtures. Visually speaking, this play was kind on the eyes from a design stand point.
“This show is the most integrated tech show I’ve ever worked on,” Harding said. “The set is one of the largest I’ve seen here in my eight years.”
This production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” encompassed the play well with its gritty and emotional, yet varied, performances from the actors. Although it may have been a challenge at first for everyone working on it, the play progressed into an impressive piece of theater.
“My hope is whether you love it or you hate it, you walk out and you still think about it,” Harding said. “Unsuccessful theater is when you walk out and you forget about it. I’m not out to offend people, but I am out to challenge.”