On the 3 May, forty Braintree Sixth Form students, accompanied by four of their teachers, went to the Cambridge Arts Theatre to see a production of Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire.
Both the Edexcel English Literature and OCR English Language and Literature courses feature an examination component on this text so the opportunity to see a theatre performance of the play is invaluable to our students.
The English Touring Theatre, who performed the play, used a box style set to represent the ground floor apartment in which the play is set. This was a clever way of showing how cramped their living conditions were and also enabled them to pull down the walls at the end to represent Blanche mentally unravelling. They had modernised the original 1940s setting, replacing the symbolic blues piano and polka music with Blondie and Madonna and Blanche’s paper lantern with a glitter ball. Hopefully this will have encouraged our students to abandon any pre-conceptions they have as well as understanding the symbolic value of these aspects of the play - it also presented a moment of comedy as, instead of Blanche simply flirting and kissing the ‘young man’ in Scene 5, in this they performed an extremely athletic dance to Heart of Glass! Another modernisation was that, whereas Williams had protected his 1947 audience from potentially offensive and risqué scenes by implying things had happened between scenes, this company left little to the imagination - a change our students reacted to with impressive maturity.
Some of the students made the following comments:
“I loved that play!”
“It was an intellectual interpretation.”
“An accurate representation of the text so really good for revision”
“It really helped me to understand how difficult the situation would have been for Blanche’s sister.”