Year 11 English Literature Students Get Theatrical
The Year 11 HL English students have recently immersed themselves in a study of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by well-known American playwright, Tennessee Williams. The text is one of the options under discussion in the upcoming final Individual Oral Commentary assessment which students will be examined on in two weeks. We all know that plays are meant to be seen and heard to be truly experienced, so when it was found out that La Boite Theatre Company in Brisbane was presenting ‘Streetcar’, we jumped at the opportunity.
Originally published in 1947, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ shone a light on issues such as domestic violence and mental health – issues which are still very pertinent to modern audiences. Our students found this highly professional production especially engaging not only for its ability to shine a light on very relevant ideas which had previously been explored in class, but also for the staging and design elements which brought the words from the script to life. Below are a few excerpts from student reflections which comment on their experience of viewing ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ last week.
“Personally, the most intriguing element for me in the production was the way music was utilised to create different atmospheres. By incorporating a vocal artist and small band including a keyboard, piano and drums new scenes were introduced in an evocative and sometimes eerie way. Song lyrics were made up of stage directions from the original text as well as magazine articles by Tennessee Williams. This ensured the original context of the play was maintained, therefore allowing the audience to bask in the ambiance of the play while keeping its original historical roots. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching the play at the theatre which accurately depicted the script, creating another level of depth and understanding of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ for me”.
“I believe that by viewing a live performance of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ I’ve enhanced my knowledge and understanding of the text. Although I had already watched the movie, I believe that seeing the play first-hand was more helpful in allowing me to really connect with the work. Throughout the production there were a few moments where I found myself thinking “oh, so that’s how that line is supposed to be delivered”. The emotions expressed by the actors also felt much more engaging. I believe the most impactful aspect of the play, for me, was the way the actor playing Blanche portrayed this character. The way Blanche’s emotions and eventual downfall was presented was extremely well done, enabling me to sympathise with Blanche a lot more than I had before watching the play”.
“ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ was a spectacular production bringing together different stage elements which enhanced my knowledge and understanding of the play. Most of all, I enjoyed the opening music and how it incorporated scene descriptions and stage directions from the original text. I believe this added depth to the performance as it was a clever way of incorporating more of the original script into the performance and was a unique individual interpretation. The choice to incorporate musicians as characters within the play also added an additional layer of complexity to the production which also heightened audience engagement”.
Devin O’Halloran Anderson
“Watching a theatre performance means that the audience are able to better connect with the actors and be completely enthralled by the storyline. In this production of ‘Streetcar’ I enjoyed scrutinising the smaller details which aren’t highlighted in the script, such as the body language, gestures and facial expressions of each character. By being able to focus on particular details such as these, I was able to get a more well-rounded idea of characterisation.”
Mrs Marnie Chetter