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THE

Defender Picks

 

MERCREDI

June 28th

Noontime Talk

NOMA, 12PM

Jim Steg: New Work, with Curator Russell Lord

 

Books Beer & Bookworm Babble

Urban South Brewery, 5PM

A fundraiser for Friends of New Orleans

 

Local Intro to Oils

Monkey Monkey, 6PM

Get the 411 on essential oils

 

Rye Tasting

Grande Krewe, 6PM

A flight of rye

 

Stick To Your Guns

Republic, 6PM

With support by Hawthorne Heights

 

Free Yogalates

The Mint, 6:30PM

Part of Wine Down Wednesdays

 

WNOE Summer Jam

House of Blues, 7PM

Jerrod Neimann with Michael Ray and more

 

Comedy Gold

House of Blues, 7PM

Stand up comedy from the Big Easy

 

Corks & Colors

NOLA Yoga Loft, 7:30PM

Let the paints and wine flow

 

Weird Wednesday’s

Bar Redux, 9PM

The Extra Terrestrial Edition

 

Mighty Brother

Saturn Bar, 10PM

With Grace Pettis

JEUDI

June 29th

Essence Festival

Superdome, 10AM

All your favorites in one place

 

Talkin’ Jazz

Jazz Museum, 2PM

With Tom Saunders

 

Ogden After Hours

The Ogden, 6PM

Featuring Andrew Duhon

 

Movie Screening

Carver Theater, 6PM

FunkJazz Kafé: Diary Of A Decade 

 

Bleed On

Glitter Box, 6PM

Fundraising for We Are #HappyPeriod, powered by Refinery29

 

Book Signing

TREO, 7PM

SHOT by Kathy Shorr

 

BYO #Scored

Music Box Village, 7:30PM

Presenting “Where I’m From”

 

JD Hill & The Jammers

Bar Redux, 8PM

Get ready to jam

 

Night Church

Sidney's Saloon, 8:30PM

Headliner Johnny Azari, plus free ice cream

 

Henry & The Invisibles

Hi Ho, 9PM

With support by Noisewater

 

Soundbytes Fest Edition

Three Keys, 9PM

With PJ Morton + Friends

 

Trance Farmers

Dragon’s Den, 10PM

Support by Yung vul

 

Push Push

Banks St Bar, 10PM

With Rathbone + Raspy

 

VENDREDI

June 30th

Morton Records Day Party

411 S. Rampart St., 1PM

Celebrate with PJ Morton, featuring BBQ and live music from Denisia, 3D Na'Tee, and DJ G-Cue

 

Electric Girls Demo Day

Monroe Hall at Loyola, 1:30PM

Check out the newest inventions

 

Field to Table Time

NOPL Youth Services, 2PM

Learn how growing + cooking = saving the world

 

Dinner & A ZOOvie

Audubon Park, 6PM

A showing of Trolls

 

Movie Night in The Garden

Hollygrove Market, 7PM

A showing of Sister Act

 

Songwriter Night

Mags, 9PM

Ft. Shannon Jae, Una Walkenhorst, Rory Sullivan

 

Alligator ChompChomp

The Circle Bar, 9:30PM

Ft. DJ Pasta and Matty N Mitch

 

Free Music Friday

Fulton Ally, 10PM

Featuring DJ Chris Jones

 

Spektrum

Techno Club, 10PM

Ft. CHKLTE + residents

 

The Longitude Event

Café Istanbul, 10PM

Presented by Urban Push Movement

 

Foundation Free Fridays

Tips, 10PM

Ft. Maggie Koerner & Travers Geoffray + Cha Wa

 

Gimme A Reason

Poor Boys Bar, 11PM

Ft. Tristan Dufrene + Bouffant Bouffant

 

SAMEDI

July 1st

SLOSHBALL

The Fly, 12PM

Hosted by Prytania Bar

 

Organic Bug Management

Hollygrove Market, 1PM

Learn about pests + organic management

 

Mystic Market

Rare Form NOLA, 2PM

Author talk, live music, art and more

 

Girls Rock New Orleans

Primary-Colton, 2:30PM

The official camper showcase

 

Serious Thing A Go Happen

Ace Hotel, 4PM

Exhibit viewing, artist talk, and after-sounds

 

Art NO(w)

Claire Elizabeth Gallery, 5PM

An eye popping opening reception

 

Antoine Diel Trio

Three Muses, 6PM

With Josh Paxton + Scott Johnson

 

CAIN Ressurection

Southport Music Hall, 9PM

Support by Overtone plus Akadia

 

Grits & Biscuits

House of Blues, 10PM

A Dirty South set

 

Jason Neville Band

BMC, 11PM

With Friends for Essence Fest

DIMANCHE

July 2nd

The Greatest Show On Earth

Prytania Theater, 10AM

Dramatic lives within a circus

 

THINK DEEP

The Drifter Hotel, 2PM

Ft. RYE, Lleauna, Tristen Dufrane

 

Night Market

Secondline Arts, 6PM

With Erica Lee

 

The Story of Stories

Académie Gnostique, 7PM

Learn about the practical magic of fairy tales

 

Silencio

One Eyed Jacks, 8PM

A tribute to David Lynch

 

Alex Bosworth

Bar Redux, 9PM

With Diako Diakoff

 

Church*

The Dragons’s Den, 10PM

SHANOOK, RUS, KIDD LOVE, ZANDER

 

International Flag Party

Howlin Wolf, 11:30PM

The hottest dance party of the year

 

New Creations Brass Band

Maple Leaf, 12AM

A special closing performance

 

Created Enchantment

A Streetcar Named Desire, Reviewed



NoDef Theatre Critic Jim Fitzmorris gets off at Elysian Fields, and heads to Michalopoulos Stuido for Southern Rep and InsideOut's production of Tennessee Williams' New Orleans-set classic of the American stage.

 

Around the midpoint of Jason Kirkpatrick's stunner production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Michael Aaron Santos' Stanley Kowalski, having endured enough insults at the hands of Aimée Hayes' Blanche Dubois, bellows at her from his bedroom:

 

 

I am not a Polack. People from Poland are Poles. They are not Polacks. But what I am is one hundred percent American. I'm born and raised in the greatest country on this earth and proud as hell of it. And don't you ever call me a Polack.

 

 

It strikes the listener like a ton of bricks: one hundred percent American. In a singular roaring moment, the entire nature of Kirkpatrick's take on what is arguably the greatest of this country's dramas comes to the foreground: a battle over identity not just on a personal level but also one of community. Stanley is the brave new world of post-war America brutally reminding his ethereal sister-in-law that she is a past time whose existence is entirely dependent on the decisions he makes. Kowalski is a stranger lacking in kindness.

 

A Streetcar Named Desire
Where: Michalapoulos Studio, 527 Elysian Fields Ave., Marigny
When: March 29-April 15; Thurs. - Sat. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m.
Tickets: $20-35

This insight is the foundation of Southern Rep/InSideOut's bracing staging of Tennessee Williams' masterwork. A stylistic collision of slice-of-life and dream play, this Streetcar, augmented by a design firing on full-cylinders, is a gut-wrenching, romantic and, finally, devastating evening of theatre. And all of it is held together through an arresting performance by Hayes as Williams' tragic heroine. She and director Kirkpatrick not only give us a Blanche that is a painfully sympathetic lost soul but also use the construction of character to unify the stylistic choices of the play. Using Dan Zimmer's mixture of realistic and magical lighting to guide her, Hayes moves between the callous reality of poker games, beer bottles and packaged meat and into a more poetic world of expressionism and memory. Featuring uniformly, excellent performances and brilliant dramaturgy, it is in a different league from other productions in town and needs to be measured as such.

 

Underneath a pervasive sadness, Hayes' Blanche is an indefatigable optimist. The performance is an exquisite unraveling of soul and psyche, carefully calibrated without being a closed system from her fellow actors. Blanche's lonely birthday party, which is devastating on the page, is beyond heartbreaking in Kirkpatrick's production. Over the slightly lopsided cake Stella has baked for her sister, the director and actress combine to create a frozen moment of past, present and future. We see the little girl of irrepressible hopes, the anxiety-ridden disappointed woman of the moment, and the shattered shut-in to come in the glow of the birthday candles on The Kowlaski's kitchen table. Her ability to shake off the disappointments and tragedies of the past finally failing her, Hayes' creation pulls herself together one more time, instilling hope in the viewer, but in actuality only making the final indignities to come even more of a gut punch. There is not a moment in this production, despite Blanche's petty insecurities and scheming, that we believe she deserves a thing that happens to her. If you think that premise is a no-brainer, then you would be horrified how many interpretations of this play have suggested otherwise.

 

And that is the true reason the sadness strikes so deep: the contrapuntal sweetness that Hayes and her director have crafted for Williams' most famous creation. The performance works, not because of the gloomy, elegant foreboding with which Kirkpatrick and his designers have filled the space, but on account of the fact the collaborators are rooting for Blanche to pull it off. Because they are, we join them. I have always believed the measure of a great Hamlet is whether the audience starts rooting for him to escape the undiscovered country. The same is true here. We like this Blanche so much that we find ourselves willingly suspending our knowledge of the play's dark destination. Perhaps, just perhaps, there is peace of mind on the coast with Shep Huntleigh or whoever else might ride to her rescue. For this Blanche, a chivalric past, underscored by the spectral sound design of Brendan Connelly, calls to her just over the horizon.

 

If there are any skips in this otherwise pristine record, it is in the failure of the physical violence to match the emotional content. Plates do not break, slaps do not sting and punches are not landed. It is the only element in this otherwise transcendent production that rings occasionally false. The scenes of physical confrontation and overt violence feel mechanically staged rather than organically realized, and so, it has the unintended effect of ever-so-slightly disrupting the ferocious whole. It undercuts Santos' otherwise cunning performance. He sets us up by making Stanley initially seem an abrasive but fair man only to slowly show us the brutal cruelty underneath. It is a sinister take, because it makes us emotionally invested in the agent of the heartbreak that lies ahead. The fact that his violent exertions are not the measure of his emotional pyrotechnics prevents the show from putting an exclamation mark on unqualified greatness.

 

But greatness need not be perfect, and that aforementioned issue fades in the face of the evening's accumulating pleasures. The final two actors of the central quartet are the equals of the leads. Ashley Ricord Santos gives a high wire act of a performance, striking just the right balance as the true object of desire in the play. We watch her torn to and fro between the potent future offered by her dominating husband and the nostalgic dreams and guilt of her manipulative sister. If you can take your eyes off her costars, you will see a sophisticated woman who has willingly given up a more refined life for that of primal, albeit pleasurable, survival. Her performance is a series of silent decisions that leave no doubt of her inner conflict.  And the always excellent Mike Harkins uses his natural decency in creating a Mitch that makes his ultimate betrayal of The Belle from Mississippi feel on the level of The Man from Kerioth. He seemed in a perpetual place of unrequited longing, a man whose wants do not match his capacity for their realization.

 

Part of Kirkpatrick's triumph is avoiding the typical pitfalls that usually hamper the play. It why I believe, unlike my fellow critic and friend Theodore Mahne, that this production is dramaturgically and emotionally far superior to the visceral but wrongheaded 1997 staging of the tale. Along with making sure the only southern drawls are those of The Sisters Dubois, Kirkpatrick uses the terrific, humanly comical performances of supporting cast members such as Tracey Collins and Phil Karnell, as the ribald neighbors Eunice and Steve, to create a landscape that feels more New Orleans than almost any other production of this play I have seen. Monica Harris, Martin Covert, Donald Lewis, Dean Wray, Caitlyn Allison, Darnell Thomas, and Charles Buggage each strike just the right balance between fully explored characters and necessary texture to a create a portrait of the city the show usually lacks. It feels like a recognizable New Orleans rather than the easy jazz clichés or the even more offensive simply-another-southern-city landscape. Think about it this way: if it were simply Atlanta or Dallas, would Blanche be so out of place? The production knows New Orleans is not The South and establishes that reality early by having Hayes enter in one of Cecile Casey Covert's meticulous period piece garments: she is a ghostly, radiant presence of poetry in a grimy, vibrant naturalism. A lovely memory of an America that never was.

 

Kirkpatrick and set designer Bill Walker understand Stanley is neither poor nor a slob. With the faintest hint of Jo Mielziner's original design and a large assist from The Michalopoulos Studio location, Walker builds a world justified in the text by The Kowalskis' modest but growing finances and creates an apartment that is not squalor but cramped and claustrophobic. A man who was a master sergeant, is his company's top representative and can afford both participation in a bowling league and a night at Galatoire's might be a vulgarian but he certainly is not poor. The only reason Stanley does not own a home is the post war housing shortage and the fact that the G.I. Bill is a year away. Kirkpatrick knows this and makes sure we do as well. He resists the easy urge to set the play in a fictional Lower Slobovia that has grounded other, lesser productions. Instead, as the lights fade and Blanche recedes into the shadows, we know too well it is only a matter of time before Stanley packs up the family into his car, heads on out to Gentilly and into the heart of "the greatest country on this earth."

This is a magnificent

This is a magnificent rendition of the classic play. It makes fall in love with New Orleans and Tennessee Williams all over again! STELLLLLAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

Excellent review! I saw this

Excellent review!

I saw this production during the Tennessee Williams Festival, and I must say it is simply outstanding!!! Amazing performances. And the stage set... 632 Elysian Fields... OMG... what a beautiful, New Orleans theatre set.

Kudos!

Hi, Appending photo credits

Hi,

Appending photo credits is the responsibility of the editors, not the writers. The photo has now been credited.

Thanks,

NOLA Defender Editors

Jim Fitzmorris, I am the

Jim Fitzmorris,
I am the photographer that took the photo you used on your "Streetcar Named Desire" review.

http://noladefender.com/content/created-3enchantment45

The photo is copyright to me.

Please add the credit "Photo by Ride Hamilton" below the image.

I believe you understand how important it is for photographers to get proper credit when their photos are used.

Thank you.
Ride Hamilton

(Please remember to credit the photographers! They work hard to give you images to use!)

Desire Photo © Ride Hamilton

Desire Photo © Ride Hamilton

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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor

Alexis Manrodt

Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

B. E. Mintz

Editor Emeritus

Stephen Babcock

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