​‘Desire’ to turn up heat at Wright State

Classic Tennessee Williams drama opens Thursday.

The kindness of strangers will once again propel the haunting, heartbreaking potency of Tennessee Williams’ 1948 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “A Streetcar Named Desire” as Wright State University presents the landmark play beginning Thursday in the Festival Playhouse.

Set in New Orleans and inspired by circumstances involving Williams’ mentally ill sister Rose, “Streetcar” tells a powerful account of a family on edge. The fragile, disillusioned Blanche DuBois, emotionally shaken by the loss of her family home in Mississippi, seeks refuge in the cramped residence of her sister Stella and her brutish brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski. As Stella attempts to maintain peace, Blanche and Stanley consistently spar with ultimately tragic results.

“This play is simply a battle for home,” said director Jason Podplesky, WSU adjunct acting professor. “Blanche loses her home which causes her to go on a journey to her sister’s home. Blanche moves in to Stanley’s territory and Stanley starts to take over, which is the conflict of the play. Home can mean different things to everyone whether it’s safety, security, sanity, shelter, or love. And of course the play is also about the cataclysmic force that is desire, the lengths we will go in order to have passion or desire. Ultimately Stella chooses Stanley. She chooses desire over her sister. But above all, the play is about home. The play begins with Blanche’s arrival in the home and it ends with her being escorted out.”

By determining Stella is the play’s catalyst, Podplesky specifically hopes to provide an experience vastly different than previous productions which typically place significant emphasis on the volatile Blanche/Stanley dynamic.

“Stella is the prize,” Podplesky explained. “Stanley represents reality, but Stella, like Blanche, chooses illusion. By choosing Stanley in the end Stella chooses illusion. This production will definitely speak to the power of Stella. After all, she determines who stays and who goes.”

In addition to Ellie Margolis as Blanche and Tommy DiMassimo as Stanley, who memorably appeared together last season in WSU’s “Pride and Prejudice” as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Mr. Darcy, the principal cast includes MacKenzie Stephens as Stella, Cody Lewis as Harold “Mitch” Mitchell, Julia Gomez as Eunice Hubell, Joey Logan as Steve Hubell, Owen Kresse as Pablo Gonzales, Christian Schaefer as Doctor, Megan Valle as Nurse, Britany Williams as Neighbor Woman, and Ian Patrick Ashwell as Young Collector. The ensemble consists of Kenneth Erard, Clint Hinderer, Kat Tilt, Alejandria Solis, Alexia Vlahos, Haley Knuth, and Nerissa Johnson.

The artistic team includes scenic designer David J. Castellano, lighting designer Jessica Drayton, costumer Emily Sollinger, properties master John Lavarnway, and sound designer Alex Koker.

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Contact this contributing writer at rflorence2@gmail.com.