Jennifer Engstrom as Blanche DuBois and Michael Perez as Stanley Kowalski in DEATH OF A STREETCAR NAMED VIRGINIA WOOLF: A PARODY at WT. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

No homework is required before seeing Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody. The play succinctly and hilariously sums up the original material of the four component plays—Death of a Salesman by Arthur MillerA Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee WilliamsWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, and Our Town by Thornton Wilder—for both experts and novices, distilling the plays down to their essences with a witty quip from our omniscient Stage Manager. What is important to remember—and the existence of the parody itself serves as an obvious reminder of this—is how famous these masterworks of American theatre have become.

StreetcarNameDesire_200x300A Streetcar Named Desire 

Author: Tennessee Williams

Year: 1947

Famous Lines: “They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at–Elysian Fields!” “Poker should not be played in a house with women.” “I’m not in anything I want to get out of.” “In the state of Louisiana we have the Napoleonic code.” “We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning.” “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

Just like Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams’ first play The Glass Menagerie was a surprise success in 1944, and the playwright followed it up with an even grander play: A Streetcar Named Desire. The story of tarnished Southern belle Blanche DuBois and her clash with the brutish Stanley Kowalski also illustrated a change in American society—from traditional to a more modern, urban world. Williams’s skill at writing dialogue as beautifully resonant as poetry made the language of the play as unforgettable as the story.


Tennessee Williams

Running for 855 performances on Broadway and then touring the country, the original production of A Streetcar Named Desire (also directed by Elia Kazan) was a massive success, winning the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Best Actress Tony Award for Jessica Tandy (who played Blanche). Further lionizing the play was the iconic film adaptation from 1951, directed by Kazan. Marlon Brando (Stanley), Kim Hunter (Stella) and Karl Malden (Mitch), reprised their roles from the original production, joined by Vivien Leigh as Blanche. The film won 4 Oscars, with Leigh, Hunter and Malden taking home awards for their performances. WT audiences were treated to David Cromer’s sumptuous production of the play at WT in 2010, which Charles Isherwood of The New York Times called “the most uniformly well-acted production I’ve yet seen.”

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