In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

234Comparative Drama any—especiallygiven the disunityofthe field atpresent,to which Discontinuities bears such notable testimony. Nick Moschovakis University of the South Philip C. Kolin. Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000. xix + 229. $54.95. The first observation that might be made of this volume of the Cambridge University Press Plays in Production is that the series editor landed the right person for A StreetcarNamed Desire. Author Philip C. Kolin has written some twenty-five articles on this play and has edited the fine collection of original essays entitled Confronting Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire (1993). Kolin can certainly be acknowledged as a leading authority on Streetcar, and, since much of his Williams scholarship focuses on Streetcar's production history, his authorship for this volume maybe regarded as a natural selection. According to series editor Michael Robinson, the Cambridge series "takes major dramatic texts and examines their transposition, firstiy onto the stage and secondly, where appropriate, into other media" (xiii). This structure allows for an inclusive chronology of Streetcar productions ranging from the Broadway premiere in 1947 to the 1998 Gate Theatre performance in Dublin. Instead ofmerely reconstructing the individual performances, however, Kolin emphasizes the cultural and theatrical dynamics that distinguish each production . Considered in this light, Streetcar emerges as a timeless recipe that holds up to experimentation orembellishmentwithoutnecessarilysacrificing its original appeal. The volume opens with a very detailed discussion ofthe 1947 Elia Kazan Broadway production. Chapter 2 turns to six "selective, but in many ways representative, national premieres of Streetcar from Mexico City to Tokyo"(xvi). The third chapter reviews English language revivals from 195698 , and Chapter 4 chronicles "alternative Streetcars" with discussions of several black and gay theater companies. In Chapter 5, Kolin examines various cinematic, ballet, and operatic adaptations of the play and then concludes the volume with a select production chronology and bibliography. Reviews235 In his analysis ofthe Broadway premiere that opens the study, Kolin summarizes me ways in which Blanche and Stanley "have taken up residence in world theatre and culture"(3), contending that by 1997—after fifty years—the play had received more than twenty thousand performances. The sheer number of successive performances relates direcdy back to the success of the premiere . Ofcourse,Williams did notpull offthis monumental achievement alone, and Kolin acknowledges the collaborative juggernaut formed by the producer (Irene Selznick), designer (Jo Mielziner), musical scorist (Alex North), and, most importandy, director Elia Kazan. Kolin reaches beyond previous discussions ofdiis initial production byproviding arcana that should prove almost as interesting to casual readers as to Williams specialists. For example, readers learn that Cary Grant was a principal investor and that the production paid for itselfin merelythree months,"with nearlytwo years ofunencumbered profits afterwards"(6), and that after Williams settled on Brando to play the part ofStanley, the playwright delegated the remainder ofthe casting to Kazan and Selznick. Kolin also details the chemistry among the principal actors and the indelible legacy ofindividual performances before turning to a section on "Streetcar on Tour" for a review of Selznick's two touring companies that were spawned from the Broadway production. Chapter 2 follows Streetcar around the globe, beginning with Havana in 1948 and ending with Tokyo in 1953. In this section Kolin informs readers that the Rome production (1949) was "heavily politicized" (49) and rejected Kazan's "psychological interpretation"(49); that the Swedish production translated into "Train Route of Lust"(57); and that at the London premiere audiences "queued for twenty-four hours and rioted"(62) when they were not admitted to the theater. Particularlyinterestingare die sections on Jean Cocteau's adaptation as well as the Sir Lawrence Olivier production, with his wife Vivian Leigh as Blanche. Readers are also reminded thatAmerica owned no monopoly on priggish attitudes towards the play's sexual content, and some changes demanded byLondon's Lord Chamberlain adumbrate the attempts at censorship forced by the Production Code of America. In fact, the moral authorities of bom countries wrestled with the issue ofAllan Grey's bisexuality; in the 1951 Warner Brothers film, the issue became totally obscured; in London, the Lord Chamberlain demanded that Greybe found in bed "'with a Negress, instead of just another man'"(66...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 234-237
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.