MASON CITY | Tennessee Williams’ classic play, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” has stood the test of time.
The play, written in 1947, opens Thursday at Mason City Community Theatre. It received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948, and is considered by many to be Williams' greatest play.
Williams writes about the sad part of humanity, according to director Neil Moe.
“Sometimes you need to see that."
“It’s hard,” he continued. “Everyone in the show, sans one character, are horrible (people).”
The drama follows troubled former schoolteacher Blanche DuBois as she leaves small-town Mississippi and moves in with her sister, Stella Kowalski, and her husband, Stanley, in New Orleans. Blanche’s flirtatious Southern-belle presence causes problems for Stella and Stanley, who already have a volatile relationship, leading to even greater conflict in the Kowalski household.
“It’s a story of one woman’s downward spiral into madness and how she chooses to cope with it,” said Chris Hager, who plays Stanley.
Moe said he chose the dark drama for his directorial debut at MCCT.
“Tennessee Williams knew what he was doing. The words of Tennessee Williams are all classic. They don’t ever ring hollow. (Every time he put) pen to paper, brilliance spewed out.”
“It’s about as real a show as you get," Hager said. "The more you get into it, everything that is done is purposeful - how we can be our own undoing.”
Mary Rohne, Catherine Gobeli, and Hager, principals in the drama, talked about their characters.
Rohne plays Stella, and Gobeli plays her sister, Blanche.
“All three of us are getting challenged,” Rohne said.
“We’re developing characters that I think none of us have ever had to do,” Hager said.
“It’s nothing that I’ve ever done before.”
Moe said this was the show that made Marlon Brando famous. Brando was cast as Stanley Kowalski in the original Broadway show in 1947, and reprised his role in the 1951 film.
They cautioned that some scenes may be difficult to watch.
“Intense is one word to describe the show,” Gobeli said. “It’s very emotional. Very dark.”
“The climax will be difficult for some people to watch,” Moe agreed.
"It’s very real," Gobeli said. "It doesn’t hide anything."
Hager said the show may not be for everyone, but they all agreed that its message is relevant.
"I think it’s really important we’re doing this now," Rohne said.
"It’ll make you think — look at humanity from an unbiased filter," Hager said. "People don’t know why it’s stood the test of time. There’s a reason for it. It's still as relevant today as the day it was written."
"Maybe more so," Moe added. "It’ll challenge you."
"Theater is relateable," Gobeli said. "That’s what I like about it."