Alysabeth Clements Mosley realizes the risk: Smaller theater troupes like hers usually don't perform A Streetcar Named Desire, because they don't have the resources or the actors to pull it off.
But when they make it work, the payoff is huge.
"This play is dense, thick with material," says the Star Bar Players' artistic director. "You can mine it and you will never get to the bottom."
Released in 1947, Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winner instantly became one of New Orleans' most notorious dirges, overflowing with intense human drama. When Star Bar takes its crack at it, Clements Mosley will play the lead role of Blanche Dubois, who descends into madness at the hands of her brother-in-law Stanley.
Director David Plambeck, who has directed in the Springs since 1986 and has studied the play extensively, describes Blanche as frail. "You are given a woman with, really, no resources for survival, and given a man who is utterly self-sufficient," he says. And that leads to the ultimate tragedy of Streetcar: the triumph of primal alpha male.
"It's about women suffering at the hands of men," Clements Mosley says.
Inspired by playwright Arthur Miller's introduction to one version of Streetcar, Mosley sees Williams as a secret activist. She's attracted to how character-driven and emotional the writing is, as well as to the political agendas underneath.
"The dynamics between men and women motivate Blanche's speech about not 'hanging back with the brutes' and looking forward into poetry, art and music's higher notions," Clements Mosley says. "She's saying to choose refinement, to choose to evolve. This is about understanding people who are not like the rest of us."
Stanley's machismo and ignorant stance is a foil, and one that proves stunningly, brutally effective.
"If you are not heartbroken at the end of this, then it's been done badly," Clements Mosley says. "It's really just such a beautiful, deep piece."
Activism aside, it is the human relationships that make up the play. You can imagine the ending being different if one character had taken the time to truly understand Blanche, who too easily can seem like a drunken sexual deviant with little or no moral fabric. That may have made the difference in saving her from Stanley, and herself.
"Tennessee Williams was asked what this play was about for him, and he said it was a plea for the understanding of the fragile people," Clements Mosley says. "I have seen a lot of productions of this very frequently, and the concept of Blanche's journey is treated un-gently."
Which is why Star Bar isn't messing with the source material. Instead, the troupe is approaching it with the openness and reverence you'd take in approaching a monolith.
"It's up to us to be enough for the piece," Clements Mosley says, having slaved over every intricacy in the play with Plambeck to make sure that no point is missed and that the audience has a chance to truly understand and empathize.
"I want people to leave melancholy," Mosley continues. "I want people to leave thinking about the kinds of people they have seen, and thinking about loss and connection, and thinking about maybe how they could be gentler to somebody who they don't really understand who is different from them."
So proud of you Catherine!!! I knew you could do it!!!
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