Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Play "A Streetcar Named Desire"

The Daegu Theatre Troupe presented Tennessee Williams "A Streetcar Named Desire", a thought-provoking character study of time, circumstances, self-concept and desire, both rational and irrational.

The theatrical troupe has had little to no theatre experiences and yet portrayed the raw emotions and stark contrasts of "good" and "evil" in the characters with minimal props. In fact, the whole play was performed with just the one-room house with shabbily curtained off bedroom. Using space and gestures the audience was taken in imagery to the front porch where conflicts and eavesdropping developed the increasing clash of characters. And the black walls of the bar-theater and bare-bulb lighting illumined the characters harshly, very appropriate for creating a mood of day and night, good and evil, right and wrong. Through setting in the play, Tennessee Williams brings out the flaws of two central characters who at the culmination of the play are victims of their own characters - one as a harsh, obdurate and demanding man who rapes the vulnerable but secretly promiscuous sister-in-law. The play ended with the sister-in-law being institutionalized and a friend laying blame on the raper who, from the period would not be punished, continues playing cards as ... if ... he ... were ... innocent.

Having never read this play, I found the ending abrupt and shocking, and yet, such is the way that life is constructed. Tennessee Williams created characters, revealed their flaws, and through the results of their actions, they were condemned to live with the consequences.

The play was well-attended. The small bar-theatre was filled, perhaps as many as 50-60 people. One English teacher had several of his students in attendance, but wow, I really wonder how much they understood. The play was filled with colloquialisms, slang and dated terminology. For native speakers studying language change, this play would be a winner, but for EFL students, how much they actually verbally comprehended is likely to be quite low.

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