Scottish Ballet presents A Streetcar Named Desire

Scottish Ballet presents A Streetcar Named Desire

Scottish Ballet presents a vibrant new take on A Streetcar Named Desire, collaborating with theater and film director Nancy Meckler and international choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa to create a powerful infusion of drama and dance. A Streetcar Named Desire is set to a specially commissioned jazz-inspired score by Peter Salem. Trying to leave a troubled past behind her, fading Southern belle Blanche DuBois moved into her sister Stella's New Orleans apartment. Stella's brutish husband Stanley sees that Blanche is not what appears to be, and sets out to destroy her. Click here to watch a video clip.

This artist residency with Scottish Ballet is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and South Arts. Supported by the Scottish Government’s International Touring Fund.

Contains mature content.  Recommended for 16+.

Oct. 13 Carol Morsani Hall
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Show Dates & Times

Sun., Oct. 13, 7:30 p.m.

What to Expect

Contains mature content.  Recommended for 16+.

A Streetcar Named Desire received its world premiere at Theatre Royal Glasgow on 11 April 2012.

Synopsis

When Tennessee Williams began writing his play A Streetcar Named Desire he thought of calling it The Moth. Our first image takes its inspiration from this title when we see a young girl, Blanche, dancing under a bare light bulb. She is a delicate creature fluttering towards the light, a light which attracts but which can also burn: a light which represents desire.

Our storytelling, unlike Williams' play, begins by relating the story of Blanche DuBois while she is growing up in America’s Deep South. The year is 1935, and the lifestyle of the landed gentry is in steep decline. Blanche is a beautiful young girl with her life ahead of her.

ACT 1

Belle Reve
Blanche meets and falls in love with Alan, a gentle and sensitive young man. At their wedding we meet her family and Blanche’s younger sister, Stella. The wedding is elegant and genteel even though the once wealthy family is soon to lose its home, Belle Reve, due to mounting debt incurred through gambling and profligate spending. At the wedding, Alan briefly meets a Young Man and finds he is attracted to him. Alan is clearly uncertain about his sexuality and although he loves his wife, he soon begins a secret affair. When Blanche unexpectedly comes upon the two men together, she is confused and upset, and eventually rejects Alan. In despair, Alan runs off and shoots himself, dying in Blanche’s arms. She is distraught and cannot forgive herself for dealing so harshly with him.

Stella Leaves Home
Stella makes a decision to leave Belle Reve and make her way in the world, leaving Blanche alone with her family and their financial problems. Over time, she has to deal with many family deaths, including her parents. The family home, the beautiful decaying Southern mansion Belle Reve, is lost and Blanche is overwhelmed.

When the scene shifts to the music filled streets of New Orleans,  Stella meets and falls passionately in love with Stanley Kowalski, a factory worker. Here, the score introduces us to the world of jazz.

We rejoin Blanche and find she is without a home, now living in a hotel. Haunted by the guilt of her young husband’s death, she seeks comfort in alcohol and in the arms of strangers, including Shep Huntleigh, a wealthy Texan. Eventually she is discovered seducing a Young Boy and is forced to leave town.

BLANCHE: I was never hard or self-sufficient enough. When people are soft - soft people have got to court the favour of hard ones, Stella. Have got to be seductive - put on soft colours, the colours of butterfly wings, and glow - make a little temporary magic just in order to pay for - one night's shelter. That's why I've been - not so awf'ly good lately. I've run for protection, Stella… protection.

New Orleans
Now heavily addicted to alcohol, Blanche travels to her sister Stella in New Orleans, hoping to leave behind her past and to make a new start. She meets up with Stella and Stanley at the bowling alley, and when she is taken to their apartment, she is horrified to see how basic their lives are and how little privacy there will be as she shares their tiny living space. Stanley proudly tells her that they are expecting a baby. Blanche senses that Stanley is fiercely territorial and resents her presence in his home; he feels that Blanche looks down on him and thinks him common.
 
The Poker Game
When Stanley’s friends arrive at the apartment for their poker night, Stella is eager to be out of his way and takes Blanche out for the evening. As the two women watch a floorshow in a nightclub, Blanche drinks heavily. She feels lightheaded and suddenly is haunted by an image of Alan and the night of his death. Shaken, she leaves the club with Stella, and on the street meets a Mexican flower seller, selling flowers for graves as she chants “flores para los muertos”: flowers for the dead. As Blanche buys a flower, she imagines again that young Alan is haunting her.

Back at the apartment Stanley’s poker game is in full swing. There, Blanche meets his friend Mitch. Mitch is a shy man unconfident with women and unmarried, and Blanche takes her opportunity to flirt with him. She longs for a safe haven, protection from the world's harshness, and can see no way to find this unless she can find a husband. In the early fifties, few women could imagine survival or happiness without being married. Sensing that Mitch is her only chance, Blanche is desperate to convince him that she is still young and innocent. When she invites Mitch to dance, Stanley becomes enraged at the interruption to his poker game and throws the radio out of the window. Stella is furious and pushes the friends to leave. Stanley, now drunk and feeling his territory invaded, attacks his wife. His friends manage to stop him and douse him in the bath while the two women run out onto the street. Stanley is full of remorse and calls out to Stella. Unable to resist her passion for Stanley and his need for her, Stella returns and is able to forgive, taking him into her arms.

ACT II

The Next Morning
The next morning, Stanley and Stella are very loving towards each other and Blanche, who has spent the night with a neighbour, returns just as Stanley is going out. She sees Stanley as a monster and is desperate to get Stella packed and away before he returns, but Stanley comes back unexpectedly and overhears Blanche trying to turn his wife against him. Stella sees him in the doorway and leaps into his arms.  Blanche feels isolated and imagines she is surrounded by "desire" in the form of couples locked in passionate embrace. She turns, as always, to drink.

Blanche and Mitch
Mitch arrives to take Blanche on a date and a sequence of short scenes show us their courtship over the long, hot summer. They dine, go boating, shelter from the rain and visit the movies. Blanche continues to put up a front of innocence and refuses Mitch any intimacy beyond a goodnight kiss.

The Letter
Time has passed, and Stella is now heavily pregnant. Stanley arrives home with a letter from a friend telling him of Blanche’s promiscuous past. Having seen Blanche trying to ‘steal’ his wife, he is now determined to destroy Blanche’s chances with Mitch. He shows the letter to Stella and we see images of Blanche’s past encounters when she was living at the hotel.

Blanche discovers Stella begging Stanley not to show the letter to anyone. She asks to see it, but Stanley waves it before her eyes and leaves to do his damage. Blanche is terrified and imagines the letter and its contents being seen by everyone in town, including Mitch.

Mitch arrives, angry that he has been so deceived by tales of her innocent past. He has the letter and he tries to force himself on her before leaving in disgust. Alone, Blanche feels she has lost every chance for survival. In an echo of her youth, she dances her vulnerability as a moth, and the chorus of women echo her movements.

Blanche Retreats into Fantasy
When the doorbell rings Blanche is brought back to reality by the arrival of a Newspaper Delivery Boy. He reminds her of young Alan, and indeed Alan's ghost appears again to haunt her. She tries to seduce the Boy, but her hold on reality is so slight that the boy keeps turning into Alan. When the Boy leaves, she is alone, haunted by Alan and other figures from her past: his Young Lover and Young Blanche.

Feeling that she has nowhere to turn and that Stanley will throw her out, Blanche drinks heavily and continues to retreat into fantasy as she sees characters from her life coming towards her. She dresses up in an old ball dress and imagines she is the star attraction in her own life.
Blanche is brought suddenly back to sobriety and reality when Stanley appears. He is celebrating the birth of his child. She is terrified to be alone with him and defends herself with a broken bottle. Stanley, provoked, takes her by force.

Some days later we see Blanche, broken, being carefully dressed by Stella. She is preparing her for a trip to the mental hospital where Stanley has arranged for her to be committed. When the Doctor arrives, Blanche runs to Stella. Stella has to choose whether to protect Blanche or to be loyal to Stanley, and decides to stay with Stanley as Blanche leaves the apartment with the Doctor. Blanche now retreats into fantasy. She imagines the doctor is a friend and that she is in a field of flowers, the flowers for the dead we saw her buy in the street from the Mexican Flower Seller.

- Nancy Meckler

About the Show

Artistic and Creative Team

Nancy Meckler (Director) is Artistic Director for Shared Experience Theatre for which she has directed many productions including Anna Karenina, Heartbreak House, True West, The Birthday Party, The Bacchae, Orestes, Mother Courage and with co-director Polly Teale, Mill on the Floss and War and Peace. Aristo will be her third play by Martin Sherman, the other two being an adaptation of A Passage to India for Shared Experience and Rose, with Olympia Dukakis, for the National Theatre and on Broadway. As Associate Director of Hampstead Theatre she directed Uncle Vanya and Buried Child as well as Sufficient Carbohydrate and Dusa Fish Stas and Vi, both transferring to the West End. During three years as Associate Director for Leicester Haymarket her productions included The Cherry Orchard, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Baal, The Hypochondriac, Electra/Orestes. She has directed new plays for the Bush, Royal Court and the Almeida. Her work for the National Theatre includes Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Abingdon Square (Soho Poly transfer). More recently for the RSC she has directed Comedy of Errors, House of Desires, and Romeo and Juliet, and she recently directed Onassis in the West End with Robert Lindsay. Her two feature films were Sister My Sister and Alive and Kicking (screenplay by Martin Sherman).

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa (Choreographer) completed her dance studies at the Royal Ballet Academy of Antwerp, Belgium. As a professional dancer, she appeared with various companies in Germany before joining in 1993, the modern-jazz dance company Djazzex based in The Hague. In 1997, she joined the Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, where she danced as a soloist for seven years, and in 2003, she decided to focus her creative energies entirely to choreography. Annabelle has created works for Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, Dutch National Ballet, Djazzex, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, The Royal Ballet of Flanders, Gran Canaria Ballet, Gothenburg Ballet, State Modern Ballet Ankara, Pennsylvania Ballet, BalletX, BJM-Danse Montreal, Luna Negra Dance Theatre Chicago, Ballet National de Marseille, Saarbrucken Ballet, Jacoby & Pronk, Chemnitzer Ballet and Ballet Hispanico. Annabelle also creates for theater and opera, and recently for the celebrated Dutch fashion designers Viktor & Rolf’s project in the Van Gogh Museum. She belongs to dance theater collective De Fantasten with whom she created two full-length pieces which have been performed in theaters and at festivals throughout the Netherlands. The critically acclaimed Before After which Annabelle created for the Dutch National Ballet in 2002 has been performed at the Dance Passion Festival in the Netherlands, the New York Fall for Dance Festival, the Houston Dance Salad Festival, the 2007 Orange County Fall for Dance Festival, the 2010 Murcia Gala (Spain) and throughout Sweden by the Gothenburg Ballet. Annabelle has won several choreography prizes; in 2002 with Clair/Obscur at the Hannover’s Choreographers competition and in 2003 the first prize and public’s prize with Replay at the International Choreographer’s Competition of Bornem. In 2007, she was selected to participate with the prestigious New York Choreographic Institute, and in 2009, her pieces Zip Zap Zoom (BJM-Danse Montreal) and Nube Blanco (Luna Negra Dance Theater) were included in the list of 10 best dance highlights of the year. Her piece One, created for independent artist Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk has been acquired by Christopher Wheeldon’s Company Morphoses and presented at Sadlers’ Wells in London, Vail and New York City Centre in 2008 as well as at the Dance Salad Festival in Houston, Titas Gala in Cincinatti and on the YAPG tour to Mexico. In 2010, Annabelle reworked the duet ONE into a quartet especially for Jacob’s Pillow Festival.

Peter Salem's (Composer) compositions range from scores for television dramas, documentaries and film to music for theater, dance and the concert hall. His most recent TV commission was for the highly acclaimed BBC series Call the Midwife and other TV dramas have included the award winning 5 Daughters, The Other Boleyn Girl, Beau Brummell, Trial and Retribution, The Vice, Great Expectations and documentaries such as Simon Schama's The Power of Art: Caravaggio and Francesco's Venice. In theater he has worked with Nancy Meckler for many years writing music for her productions of Anna Karenina, Mill on the Floss, The Tempest, A Passage to India, War and Peace, and Bronte (all for Shared Experience Theatre) as well as her dance-themed film Alive and Kicking. Other theater credits include Jane Eyre, Kindertransport, Mine, Ten Tiny Toes, Speechless (also for Shared Experience Theatre), Julius Caesar, Murder in the Cathedral (RSC), The Miser, The Crucible and Robert LePage's A Midsummer Night's Dream (The National Theatre), and many other productions. He is also a performer and musical director, recently playing in the on-stage band at the National Theatre in England People Very Nice. As well as working with dance as part of theater productions, early in his career Peter was a rehearsal pianist with London Contemporary Dance, wrote a piece for Zaragoza Ballet choreographed by Caroline Salem and worked with Second Stride and The Gregory Nash co. also collaborating with Gregory and Ian Brown on an award winning adaptation of Great Expectations for actors and dancers in Glasgow. Concert works include a series of pieces for strings including an octet, quartet and Windhover for Piano Trio which has recently been played and recorded by The Fidelio Trio and can be streamed form his website. He plans to launch a string group later in the year.

Niki Turner
Design

Tim Mitchell
Lighting design

Reviews

“Heartbreakingly beautiful” – The Independent

“A tour-de-force for Scottish Ballet.” – The Herald

“Simply gripping from start to finish” – STV.tv

“High praise also goes to Peter Salem, whose original score took us from jazzy New Orleans to harrowing rape scene with sensitivity.” – The Scotsman

“This new dance-drama version of the Tennessee Williams’ play speaks with the compelling grasp of the physical desires and psychological distress that destroy a woman who simply longed to love and be loved.” – The Herald

“Gritty and at time shocking, whilst still maintaining the beauty and subtlety one expects from the ballet, A Streetcar Named Desire is a must-see for regular theater goers and newcomers alike.” – STV.tv

“A brilliantly bold and sensitive ballet which is full of memorable set pieces” – The Daily Telegraph

“A Streetcar you definitely want to catch.” – The Daily Telegraph

“The chorus makes this something very special” – The Independent

Education

There will be a post-show talkback.

Run-time: 2 hours 20 minutes including intermission