The Daily Gamecock

'A Streetcar Named Desire' passionately revived on Drayton Hall stage by USC theatre students

New production of classic drama celebrates work of Southern playwright

Sometimes in theater, there is a round of applause when the main character embraces his or her love interest for the first time and the two take their impassioned kiss.

But when Mitch, played by second-year master of fine arts (MFA) student Sam Kinsman, took Blanche, played by second-year MFA stuent Yvonne Senat, into his arms and kissed her, there was complete silence in the Drayton Hall Theatre.

The plot of "A Streetcar Named Desire" follows Blanche DuBois to Louisiana from her plantation home of Belle Reve in Mississippi. Blanche lost the plantation from what she claims to be financial weight caused by familial debt but instead seems to be her own frivolous indulgence. Because of this financial loss, Blanche is taken into the home of her younger sister, Stella Kowalski, played by second-year MFA student Jessi Noel.

"A Streetcar Named Desire" will run as a part of the College of Theatre and Dance's Tennessee Williams Festival until Oct. 8. Information about showtimes and tickets can be found online at

The Southern dame, with her veiled hat, matching skirt suit, gloves and stockings, finds Stella married off to a "commoner" from Poland in the bowels of the French Quarter of New Orleans.

The production is a distinctly Southern one, and with showings of materialism, vanity and superficiality, Blanche is painted as a clear depiction of the Southern woman.

"She's a high-strung character," Senat said prior to Friday's performance. "She's kind of a nervous character."

High-strung is certainly one way to put it, with Blanche cringing and jumping at every unexpected sound and lapsing into flashbacks midthought. Having been surrounded by death for years with the passing of both her parents and suicide of her first beau, Blanche lives on edge in this fantasy land she has created for herself.

"There was a lot of ways I could empathize with her," Senat said. "She is a survivor; she takes a lot of hard blows."

The most continual source of those blows comes in the form of her sister's husband, Stanley Kowalski.

"There's something not quite human about him," Blanche explains to her sister, in reference to Stanley, played by second-year MFA student Joe Mallon.

She goes on to describe Stella's husband as being apelike and behind in the evolutionary process as, unbeknownst to her, he stands right outside of the room.

Stanley serves as a constant reminder to Blanche's fantasy land of the cold and harsh reality that's crashing down around her. Like death is to desire, Stanley seemed to stand as the direct opposite to Blanche's entire perspective.

The play's name is derived most literally from the old streetcar named Desire that Blanche has to take to find Elysian Fields Avenue, where the Kowalskis live, but more significantly, and yet more philosophically, the title speaks to what has driven Blanche into her current circumstances and what seems to drive her for most of the plot: her desire.