A new “Streetcar” on Broadway: It isn’t easy to put a fresh spin on “A Streetcar Named Desire,” one of the most acclaimed plays in American theater, with its caricatured Brando scream of “Stella!” A new production on Broadway aims to shake things up, putting black and Latino actors in the lead roles.
The idea of “colorblind” casting is a couple of generations old now, but it faces particular challenges in a play where the central conflict is between an uppercrust French plantation daughter and a Polish-American roughneck. But director Emily Mann refutes the idea that the casting is a gimmick. She points to a key line in Tennessee Williams’ play as a clue: “‘My American ancestors were French Huguenot,’ that’s the line. And so if you say it as, ‘My American ancestors were French Huguenot,’ the others were African.” The white ethnicities, she thinks, aren’t key to the drama.
“How we made historical sense of the different culture between Stanley and the Dubois sisters,” Mann explains, “is that he’s a dark-skinned man with a very fair-skinned wife, who comes from the plantation houses of yore.” More.