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‘Streetcar Named Desire’ heats up Barter Stage II

Staff reports • Jun 5, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Members of Barter Theatre’s resident acting company will bring some sizzle to Stage II with their production of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play “A Streetcar Named Desire,” opening Thursday and playing in repertory through July 27.

Williams’ shattering prose and steamy realism are as electrifying today as they were when the show opened in 1947.

Washed-up Southern belle Blanche’s arrival at her sister Stella’s cramped New Orleans apartment upsets the precarious balance of Stella’s marriage and sets Blanche on a tragic collision course with her brother-in-law, Stanley.

Nicholas and Wendy Piper play husband and wife Stanley and Stella Kowalski, and Hannah Ingram stars as the infamous Blanche DuBois in Barter’s production of “Streetcar,” directed by Katy Brown.

“When I think about ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ I think about light — about the light of New Orleans leaking in the windows, about a paper lantern covering a naked light bulb, about Blanche hiding from the light, literally and figuratively,” Brown said. “She leaves Mississippi with secrets she can no longer hide in her home town and seeks a place where she can be seen in a light that makes her seem like the woman she wants to be. Instead, she finds herself trying to hide from that very light so no one will see who she has become.”

For Brown, the phrase “to see something in a different light” kept coming to mind during rehearsals for Barter’s production, which strips away the layers of history to focus on the story.

“I love this idea that on some level we are aware that our perception is only part of the full picture,” she said. “If we see someone in a different light, we have changed how we see them entirely, while understanding that both versions looked true to us at some point.

“When I met with the design team for this show, we talked about wanting the world of this play to look like one thing in one light and something entirely different in another. What Blanche sees of this home and what Stella sees in it are entirely different things. I want us to know this world and what happens in it based on what ‘light’ the person sees it in. Can it be that both versions are real? What is illusion and what is reality?”

Barter first produced “A Streetcar Named Desire” during its 1953-1954 season. Through the years, the theatre has staged several other Tennessee Williams classics, including “The Glass Menagerie,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Night of the Iguana.”

In 1963, Williams spent several weeks at Barter premiering a revised version of his play “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore,” and in 1972, he returned to Barter for a special presentation of “An Evening with Tennessee Williams.”

“Producing his play is incredible,” Brown said. “We all feel really lucky and borderline giddy to be working on ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’”

“A Streetcar Named Desire” is sponsored by The United Company, ABC19 and the Kingsport Times-News. Barter is funded in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Barter Day for “A Streetcar Named Desire” is June 13 at 7:30 p.m. Patrons can bring canned goods and barter them for admission. All proceeds will benefit Feeding America: Southwest Virginia. The Pay What You Can performance is June 23 at 7 p.m. Barter also offers $10 Tuesdays for every production.

Due to its adult content and language, “A Streetcar Named Desire” is recommended for patrons 17 and older.

For tickets or more information, call (276) 628-3991 or visit www.BarterTheatre.com.

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