By Harry Mottram: The Rondo Theatre Company in Bath have dramatically cancelled their production of Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire due to a cast illness. The show was to take place in the Larkhall theatre on Wednesday 29th November with a week long run – a production likely to attract those studying English Literature at school with the text on many modules.
The group behind the production based at the theatre in St Saviour’s Road will however be presenting two evenings on the 29th and 30th November when the audience can discuss the story of Blanche, Stella, Stanley and Mitch and ask questions of the cast members of their interpretations.
It is one of the risks all theatre companies whether professional or amateur take when staging a show. Larger companies and professional ones in particular will have understudies for the main roles. At an amateur level that may not be possible – as staging a play when everyone has full time jobs and families to care for is a stretch for most people as it is.
Covid 19 took its toll on a production of Mandela in 2023 at the Young Vic in London when shows were cancelled, and Unfriend was also hit before its transfer to the Chichester Festival from the West End while Moulin Rouge suffered the same fate that year.
The play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is a modern domestic tragedy, charting the tragic downfall of Blanche DuBois; a vulnerable woman with a difficult and troubled past as she is bullied by her sister Stella’s husband Stanley and is mistreated by her friend Mitch – and eventually due to the hostile environment collapses. It’s a savage inditement of the male dominated world of post war America where women are treated appallingly.
A 1951 film (pictured) of the play launched Marlon Brando as a major movie star when he played the brooding Stanley while Vivien Leigh who had played another southern belle in Gone With The Wind gave life to the character of Blanche. Kim Hunter played Stella and Karl Malden was Mitch in the Warner Brothers film directed by Ella Kazan.
In a statement posted online the Rondo Theatre Company stated: Unfortunately due to cast illness the Rondo Theatre Company is unable to perform A Streetcar Named Desire as planned in 2023. The company are working towards bringing a full production of this classic drama to The Rondo Theatre in 2024.
In its place, on Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th November we are offering a unique opportunity to step behind the scenes of the rehearsal process. Blanche, Stella, Stanley and Mitch will guide audiences through the story of Streetcar, with rehearsed readings of key scenes. The audience will have the opportunity to ask the cast about their characters and portrayals in workshop style discussions.
The two evenings are intended to be engaging and ideal for both Tennessee Williams enthusiasts and those studying the text. There will also be the opportunity to discuss the practical challenges faced by non-professionals in bringing a play from the script onto the stage.
The performances on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd December have been cancelled.
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