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Lagniappe

 
THE

Defender Picks

 

LUNDI

April 24th

Zurich Golf Classic

City Park, 11AM

Kick off to a 4-day stop on the PGA Championship tour

 

Crystal Energy Healing & Dream Play

1112 Mandeville St., 2PM

Talk dreams and crystals

 

Andrew Jackson Hotel Ghost Hunt

Andrew Jackson Hotel, 4PM

Sleepover ghost tour at the infamous hotel

 

International Sculpture Day

Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 5:30PM

Artists Tara Conley, Rachel David, and Ashley Pridmore will discuss their work

 

Big Easy Entertainment Awards

The Orpheum Theater, 6PM

29th annual event

 

New Orleans Baby Cakes

Shrine On Airline, 7PM

Baby Cakes go up against the Omaha Storm Chasers

 

Movie Screening: La Bataille de Solférino

Cafe Istanbul, 7PM

French film about the 2012 presidential election, following Macron and Le Pen's victories during this weekend's round one

 

Cacao Ceremony

Nola Yoga Loft, 7:30PM

Set intentions for the Full Moon and share a cacao elixir

 

Ooh Poo Pah Doo Monday Blues

Carver Club, 8PM

Hosted by the bar's owner Miss Judy Hill

MARDI

April 25th

Earth Day Celebration

City Park, 4PM

Kiddie crafts, cooking demos, native plant sale, yoga, and more

 

April Hobnobber

The Country Club, 5:30PM

Sip and socialize, with complimentary wine and live music

 

Movie Screening: Ipileaye

Ashé Cac, 6PM

Story of the creation of the world 

 

Pony Up for Horses

Eiffel Society, 6PM

A benefit to aid horses in need

 

Vinyasa & Vino

Nola Yoga Loft, 6:30PM

All-levels yoga following by wine and dinner

 

Swing in the Oaks

City Park, 7PM

Annual free outdoor concert feat. Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra

 

New Moon Medicine Circle

Yes, Yoga., 7:30PM

Celebrate the cycle with visualizations, meditations, journaling, ritual, and group energy healing

 

Aaron Cohen Band

Gasa Gasa, 9PM

Local faves, feat. Danny Abel Band, Shhh

 

High Profile | New Orleans Nightlife Awards

Sidney's Saloon, 10PM

Celebrate NOLA's nightlife with Garlic Junior, Jassy, and DJ Visqueen

MERCREDI

April 26th

Wednesdays at the Square

Lafayette Square, 5PM

Feat. Flow Tribe and Robin Barnes

 

Blackout Poetry Workshop

Norman Mayer Branch Library, 5PM

Teen poetry event in blackout poetry of public library books

 

Evenings with Enrique

City Park, 5PM

Feat. Raphael Bas

 

Vietnamese Style Crawfish Boil

Black Penny, 6PM

The famous boil across from Armstrong Park returns

 

Paradigm Pizza & Pies

Paradigm Gardens, 7PM

Urban farm hosts outdoor dinner, with Ancora Pizzeria

 

Eat Your Science

Saenger Theatre, 8PM

Alton Brown live

 

Movie Screening: Annie Hall

Catahoula Hotel, 8PM

Rooftop screening of the Woody Allen classic

 

Sound Observatory New Orleans: The Shape of Jazz to Come

Three Keys, 9PM

This month's event features Ashlin Parker Trio 

JEUDI

April 27th

 

NOLA Distilling Co. Grand Opening

NOLA Distilling Company, 3PM

Live music from Colin Lake, food from Frencheeze & La Cocinita food trucks

 

Movie Screening: Jazz Fest Shorts

The Old U.S. Mint, 6PM

Films from the inaugural 1970 Jazz Fest

 

Threadhead Thursday

City Park Botanical Gardens, 6PM

Feat. Marcia Ball, Brass-a-Holics, and Paul Sanchez & the Rolling Road Show

 

Sum 41 & Pierce the Veil

House of Blues, 6:30PM

The 'We Will Detonate!' tour

 

International Jazz Day

New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, 7PM

Celebration of jazz music and its influence

 

Jazz & Heritage Gala

Hyatt Regency, 7PM

19th annual benefit feat. a Neville Family Funktion and more

 

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Orpheum Theater, 9PM

Birmingham band promotes second album "Sea of Noise" 


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, Linzi Falk, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor

Alexis Manrodt


Editor Emeritus

B. E. Mintz

Editor Emeritus

Stephen Babcock

Published Daily