Alma College presented Tennessee Williams’ play, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” on Feb. 16 through Feb. 19. The two-hour show took place at the Remick Heritage Center in the Strosacker Theatre and was directed by Alma College Professor and Director of Theatre, Scott Mackenzie.
The play is set in New Orleans, Louisiana, and follows financially troubled Blanche DuBois as she moves in with her sister, Stella, and her aggressive husband, Stanley Kowalski. It explores Blanche’s current and past misfortunes alongside her brother-in-law’s cold-hearted persona.
“‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a classic mid-20th century play that has not lost its relevance in today’s society. The play addresses issues of class, domestic violence, mental health and sexual assault,” said Mackenzie.
“I think that some audience members will be shocked to see how those issues were addressed when the play was written versus how we perceive those issues today. Tennessee Williams was ahead of his time,” said Mackenzie.
Since COVID, casting has been challenging. “In the past, we never bothered to cast understudies, but… we had to take some precautions by double casting most of the major roles and planning for emergency understudies if someone in a smaller role had to miss a performance,” said Mackenzie.
In addition to casting extra, the cast only had about one month to rehearse for the production. “We auditioned right before Christmas but didn’t start rehearsals until the second week of the new semester… It was for sure challenging to learn all of my lines and blocking in such a short amount of time,” said Mia Abate (‘23) who played the part of Stella Kowalski.
The controversial nature of the play has also been difficult for some actors. “A lot of my parts have been very similar to who I am as a person… and Stanley is not like that at all. He is a very violent person… so the biggest challenge has been getting in his head and trying to empathize with someone who is so intense all the time,” said Cody Diesler (‘25) who played Stanley Kowalski in two of the four shows.
Despite the challenges, cast members like Abate have enjoyed the process. “My favorite part of preparing for the play was working with an amazing cast and crew… This show covers some pretty serious topics, so having a cast and crew who all support and care for each other made for a great environment to work in,” she said.
The production would not have been made possible, however, without the hard work of the student-run crew who worked behind the scenes to make this show come to life.
“I call the cues during the show, and I typically just make sure everything runs as smooth as possible. I communicate with all the separate departments within the theatre department,” said Kiera Biland (‘23). Biland was the stage manager for this play.
“The hardest part is keeping track of all of the props and costumes during scene changes. I write a shift plot, which is where and when each scenery piece or prop gets moved. This show has a lot of props, so keeping track of their movements is pretty hard,” said Biland.
The crew oversees all the technical aspects and ensures that everything is in place for a successful show. Though difficult, “having the actors in costumes and [using] props and set pieces makes it all feel worth it in the end,” said Biland.
Though a rigorous process, the dedicated efforts of cast, crew and directors made for a successful four nights of shows enjoyed by Alma College and the community.
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