The sweltering heat of New Orleans is coming to Christchurch with the arrival of classic theatrical drama, A Streetcar Named Desire.

Running at The Court Theatre from February 22, audiences can expect a vivid and enthralling production from this Pulitzer Prize winning drama.

“It’s a masterpiece of 20th Century theatre,” says director Melanie Luckman, a previous Associate Director at The Court who most recently helmed In the Next Room, or the vibrator play.

“This is a dynamic, sexy and dangerous story of a woman fighting with all her might to stay alive in a world that’s out to get her,” Luckman explains.

The story follows jaded Southern belle Blanche DuBois as she arrives at her sister’s house in New Orleans with nowhere else to go. Tensions soon rise between her and her sister’s husband, Stanley, a character made famous by Marlon Brando’s portrayal in the Oscar winning film adaptation of the play.  

“Like all great poetic masterpieces, the characters are heightened versions of ourselves,” says Luckman. “They all have major flaws but are so vivacious, burning with life and desire, that they are immensely appealing to watch.”

The actors taking on these classic characters include Claire Dougan as Blanche (Westside); Chris Tempest as Stanley (Shortland Street) and Amy Straker as Stella (The Pink Hammer). This trio are joined by a talented ensemble, including Tom Eason, Hillary Moulder, Cameron Douglas, Fergus Inder, Isaac Pawson, Anita Mapukata and Hester Ullyart.  

These actors will be stepping back in time to 1947, taking audiences to a run-down and dangerous post-war New Orleans.

“The play is set before the boomtime of the 1950s,” explains Set and Properties Designer Julian Southgate. “The community is still poor and hasn’t rebuild. The men have just come back from World War II and they’re not adjusting that well to civilian life. No one is.”

Talking about what inspired his design, Southgate says, “the descriptions by the author are so evocative and poetic in the script. They’re unusual and quite strange - so I thought I'd try and bring in some of the poetic strangeness into the set design itself.”

For Luckman, “the gift of Streetcar is perfectly written dialogue that jumps off the page to meet you. The challenge is being brave enough to dive underneath the text and play the complex characters and relationships that are there to be mined. They don’t call Blanche the female Hamlet for nothing!”

Talking about why A Streetcar Named Desire has such a draw for audiences almost 75 years later, Luckman says, “The story is a big fat warning about what happens when you take away kindness and community. That’s pretty relevant to me.”

A Streetcar Named Desire runs at The Court Theatre from 22 February – 14 March 2020. You can learn more & book tickets here.