The Playhouse screens production online

A Streetcar Named Desire. Picture: Beatrice Glenister

Due to the ongoing lockdown restrictions, the Playhouse Theatre, Somerset West’s very own community theatre, established in 1947, is making history with its first-ever online production… A Streetcar Named Desire.

The play was closed halfway through its run due to lockdown, but will be made freely available for screening on the theatre’s website, from Friday July 10 to Friday July 17.

A feast of classical American poetic dialogue and raw emotions from situations easily understood by modern audiences, the play does carry an age restriction of 16.

“The perfect way to go digital was with this brand new adaption of America’s favourite play, A Streetcar Named Desire.

“In 2015 we saw a classic version of the play on our stage set with a jazz soundtrack and period costumes, but this one takes a new look,” explains Playhouse secretary, Anne Coetzee.

This version has sacrificed those sounds and textures and New Orleans has become the world.

Streetcar translates so well in a contemporary context with Tennessee Williams’ bard-like themes and messages still resonating today.

“While some might miss this element, we recognise the importance of ensuring that our productions appeal to a wider variety of audience and so these changes have made the text more accessible,” says director Darryl Spijkers.

“There are many victims in this play. These victims are at the hands of others, their current situation or society at large.

“While one gets the full depth of the play, our version adds focus on the psychosis of Blanche adopting subtle symbolism and harsh lighting.

“Weaving in and out of a realistic world makes the audience very aware that Blanche is not of a sound mental state and seeks their empathy.

“The challenges of traditional societies where women are defined by their relation to men and the conformities of marriage and the structured life is layered in both Blanche and Stella.

“These women are sadly not uncommon in our society today. Add to this failing masculinity and access to alcohol, and you have the desperation for different things that dances between our four main characters,” he adds.

The play boasts an able line-up of familiar faces with Samantha Taylor (Steel Magnolias, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby) as Blanche and Matthew Martin (Joseph, Annie get Your Gun, Much Ado About Nothing) as Stanley.

An interesting set design by Debi Greybe takes us into the world of the play with the videography of Rod and Rory Currin under the banner of their company RMC Productions.

Through this production, The Playhouse continues to serve the community as they actively raise funds to improve the facility and keep the theatre open.

“We hope to see many volunteers at the Playhouse when restrictions lift further.

“Opportunities for both young and old both on and off the stage is something we have been doing for the past few decades and 2020 will be another gem in the collection – even though it has been full of challenges and postponements!” says Mr Spijkers.

Visit the Playhouse website at www.theplayhouse.org.za to watch the play, and make a donation, and follow them on Facebook