Today The Herald published our response to Brian Beacom’s column ('It’s hard to see Stanley Kowalski as anything but white', The Herald, August 31). The unabridged letter is below:

We are writing in response to Brian Beacom’s opinion piece on Rapture Theatre’s current production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, which was published in The Herald, on 31st August.

Despite writing prior to viewing the actual show, and with absolutely no knowledge of our company’s creative approach, Mr Beacom decided to make several assumptions about our artistic decisions which are both inaccurate and unacceptable to us.

Published in Archive Articles

Blanche Dubois and Stanley Kowalski just might be the most contrasting characters found in modern drama. Practically every aspect about them is a polar opposite, from their gender and background to their outlook towards life.

While every production takes a different approach to these two fascinating characters, playwright Tennessee Williams wanted Blanche and Stanley to be evenly matched, having ‘a balance of power’. The richness of A Streetcar Named Desire’s text is found not necessarily within the plot but within the power struggle between these two icons of modern theatre.

Published in Archive Articles
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 18:14

Who’s your favourite character in Streetcar?

We asked a school pupil 'Who’s your favourite character in Streetcar?'. Here is what they said:

My favourite character is Mitch because I think he gets a bit of a raw deal in the play and I can’t help feeling sorry for him.

Mitch is a decent human being who is constantly trying to please his mother and is accused by Stanley of being a mummy’s boy because of it.  He maybe resents his mum because he’s been away in the army and travelled a lot, but now he’s stuck at home looking after her. If he does resent her though, he doesn’t really show it. He just does it because it’s his duty which makes me like him because he cares enough to put his own feelings to one side.

Published in Archive Articles
Friday, 08 September 2017 07:54

An interview with Gina Isaac

Michael Cox: What was your first experience with Streetcar?

Gina Isaac: It was watching the Elia Kazan film. I'm a huge Brando fan and absolutely loved the film when I first saw it about 20 years ago. It's an amazing film, and Brando and Vivien Leigh work so well together - the old style meeting the new. I've only ever seen one theatre production of
Streetcar, with a wonderful actress, Geraldine Alexander, playing Blanche. Years later I had the pleasure of working with her on the national tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. It was a lovely thing to be able to tell her that I'd seen her play Blanche.

MC: Let’s talk a little more about Blanche. When was the first time you thought of her as a viable character for yourself?

GI: I don't know really. There are always parts that you'd love to play as an actress, and of course Blanche Dubois is definitely 'up there' in terms of the biggies, but it wasn't a part that I felt I had to play. Once I started preparing for the audition though I became totally gripped by her. It's a great feeling when you read a part and something about them speaks to you. I guess that's when I realised I would love the chance to try and play her! Funnily enough, I have been watching a lot of southern and classic films as part of my research, and
Gone with the Wind (also starring Vivien Leigh) was the film that really 'clicked' for the concept of the 'Southern Belle'. It completely captures the old world of white privilege and vast plantations, the world from which both Blanche and Stella descend.

Published in Archive Articles
Friday, 01 September 2017 13:14

A Legacy Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire is often regarded as amongst the finest plays of the 20th century, if not of all time, and it is considered by many to be playwright Tennessee Williams' greatest. It is also one of those rare ‘Before/After’ events: the theatre world drastically changed after the play opened on Broadway.

In 1947, the year of Streetcar’s premiere, Broadway was mostly made up of comedies, revivals of classic texts and musicals. The rule of thumb was that audiences wanted to be entertained with flimsy plots and catchy tunes. Streetcar not only challenged that notion but also presented an original experience: a poetic script that teetered between the realistic and the symbolic.

It won numerous prestigious awards, including the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the Pulitzer. Two years later, in 1949, Lawrence Olivier directed the UK premiere in London in a production that thrilled and challenged audiences and critics alike.

Published in Archive Articles

Michael Cox speaks with Rapture Theatre’s Michael Emans about their latest production: A Streetcar Named Desire:

Michael Cox: A Streetcar Named Desire is stooped in its New Orleans setting and post-WWII era. Do you think this might be a problem for a modern Scottish audience?

Michael Emans: I think that, although it’s very much set in its time, its themes and its characters and its ideas really resonate an awful lot today, with themes of mental health, with immigration, with race, with cultures, with even human relationships and gender roles. There’s just so much in it that I think it will chime with an audience today. I hope audiences don’t see it as a museum piece—I don’t think they will.

Published in Director's Blog
Thursday, 04 May 2017 14:22

Getting Albee Right

Michael Cox: When did you first decide you wanted to direct Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Michael Emans: I’ve wanted to do this for years. A lot of people have been turned down in Scotland. We put together a proposal which we think appealed, and we got the rights. It’s a feather in our cap that Albee gave us the rights. You feel a sort of responsibility: we’ve got to do really good now. But we’ve got a smashing cast of actors.

MC: In casting, did you have a specific type of person you were looking for, or was it a matter of waiting for the right person to come who was just the character?

ME: A combination of both. You’re looking for actors who can handle text, and you’re looking for actors who have an energy to them, who have got ‘chutzpah’ to them, who’ve got an intelligence to them, who’ve got a sensitivity to language and emotion. So it’s quite a big checklist. You want actors who can do all of that, and that isn’t as easily to find as one necessarily thinks. And the ages have to be right.

MC: It’s a play that’s over 50 years old. What makes Virginia Woolf relevant to a modern audience?

ME: I think people relate to these characters. It’s about relationships at the end of the day. It’s about love and it’s—well, the relationships are somewhat dysfunctional but there’s still love there. But it’s not an issue play. It’s a play about people. The play is so rich. It’s so deep. It’s like an onion—you peel away a layer and you’ve got another. A criticism I’ve heard of the play is that it could just be people shouting at each other for three hours, but there’s a lot of humour in it. It’s a nice contrast to all the dramatic moments—well, the more emotional moments. It’s very extreme—I suppose that’s the mark of a really good play.

MC: This is a play you’ve wanted to do for a long time. Does that initial excitement for the piece still hold, or is there a newfound push to make this play happen?

ME: I think I first wanted to do this almost 15 years ago. I’m older now. I’m actually the same age as George in the play—we’re both 46.

MC: So you were more of a Nick at the time?

ME: Yes. So, I’m coming to the play now probably at the right time. The passion is still there, but there’s more life experience. That’s an important change for me.

MC: Do you think you now have more sympathy or empathy for George and Martha, or are you more suspicious of them as you are more similar in age now?

ME: I see it from both sides, actually. I read some notes that were written quite a while ago, and they talked about Honey being a lesser character. But I think that Honey is key. Every character is key. It’s a play about four characters.

MC: I think that it’s a play that past productions have gotten stuck on Martha so much—they’ve ignored the other three.

ME: Kind of, yeah. She has great lines, and you will always get a powerful actress playing Martha. Maybe in the past there was a value for a play to have a female character that was so powerful. Maybe that’s why so many people were attracted to Martha. Some productions cast her first then cast around her. But this play has four rich characters, so this is an ensemble piece and not just a play about one person.

MC: How has it been tackling such a difficult, highly regarded play?

ME: I have loved doing this. It’s been special. I’m happy we got the three-year backing from Creative Scotland because we’ve built to this point over the last couple of years. Knowing we had that backing gave us confidence to go and do this.

MC: It’s good that Creative Scotland is backing experimental theatre as well as language-based full evenings out.

ME: That’s the great thing. You’ve got Vanishing Point on one end and you’ve got David Leddy’s company Fire Exit, and you’ve got the Lyceum and Dundee Rep and Rapture, amongst other companies. We all do something that’s quite different. That variety is good for audiences. You don’t want everybody doing ‘vast experimental’ stuff. In fact, every one is doing ‘experimental’ work. Until you know the result, everything is an experiment. By supporting different things, you’re bringing more people into the audience. You’ve got an awful lot of companies that do different things, but we compliment each other because of who we all are.

© Michael Cox

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
3rd May to 3rd Jun, 2017

Published in Archive Articles

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