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Today we are shining a light on this week's Fathom Events presentation of the new West End revival of Tennessee Williams's classic drama A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE starring Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster.


One of the most iconic and oft-revived plays of all time, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE has been entertaining audiences around the world for nearly 70 years, thereby proving the timelessness of the tale and the prescient nature of the eloquent, evocative poetry populating the Tennessee Williams text. Without a doubt, audiences from the very start have warmed to the abundant charms of the passionate, complex story of a Southern belle on the verge of a nervous breakdown, her compassionate sister and the imposing, magnetic brute who enraptures them both. Of course, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE is as inextricably associated with its original star - Marlon Brando - as it is with the playwright himself, although in recent years a string of fresh, new interpretations of the role have redefined the overtly masculine character for a whole new generation of audiences.

Originally running from December 1947 through December 1949, when the inaugural cast took the hit show out on the road, the premiere Broadway production of the searing New Orleans-set drama A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE played at Ethel Barrymore Theater on Broadway, produced by Irene Mayer Selznick. The original production famously starred Marlon Brando alongside Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden, under the direction of Elia Kazan, with Brando and Tandy making major marks in early roles in what would eventually be legendary stage and screen careers - particularly in the case of stage and screen newcomer Brando. At the time, the play was an instant hit despite its frank depiction of sexuality and risqué themes, and it was reportedly met with a half-hour standing ovation following its premiere performance in New York City following a brief out of town tryout in New Haven, Connecticut. From the very start, STREETCAR successfully seduced audiences with its earthy, erotic and emotionally intriguing wiles.

Subsequently, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE received numerous 1948 Tony Award nominations in the year it premiered, with Tandy taking home Best Actress - in a three-way tie, no less. Of note, it also won not only the Pulitzer Prize For Drama in 1948 but also received the highly prized Drama Critics' Award that year, as well - an award which has since been renamed The New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, but is still very much in existence all these years later. Critics and audiences evidently agreed that Tennessee Williams had crafted a masterwork worthy of the utmost praise - and it would be revived continually for decades to come, well into the new millennium.

Since 1947, the impossibly impressive list of major and minor performers who have taken on the top-lining parts in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE both onstage and onscreen is vast and fascinating to consider. Of course, Brando committed his performance to celluloid in the 1951 feature film version of the play, also directed by Kazan, while subsequent small screen showings have showcased Treat Williams (opposite Ann-Margret) and Alec Baldwin (opposite Jessica Lange; both repeating their 1992 Broadway revival roles). Major stage mountings of the drama have included the 1973 Broadway revival starring Rosemary Harris, Patricia Conolly and James Farentino, as well as a 1988 revival featuring Blythe Danner, Frances McDormand and Aidan Quinn. Since the turn of the new century, both the West End and Broadway have hosted the play numerous times, with Natasha Richardson, Amy Ryan and John C. Reilly headlining a 2005 Great White Way production, and, more recently, Rachel Weisz and Ruth Wilson starring along with Elliot Cowan in a 2009 West End revival. Additionally, recent Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett shared the stage with Joel Edgerton in an Australian production staged by Liv Ullmann that briefly appeared in New York for a sold-out limited run, while Daphne Rubin-Vega and Nicole Ari Parker joined Blair Underwood for a multi-racial Broadway production, as well, in 2012.

Now, Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster are poised to wow audiences around the world by bringing their critically acclaimed West End turns in the two titanic roles to movie theaters nationwide via the Fathom Events live presentation of the play later this week. Could this new STREETCAR for 2014 manage to capture the essential magic of the play while also introducing it to a 21st century audience, presenting the complete text as Williams originally intended? Time will tell, but with performers this adept and seemingly ideal for their parts, the results could very well be combustible - and unforgettable.

More information on the Fathom Events presentation on A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE on September 16 at movie theaters nationwide is available at the official site here.

Elysian Fields

So, now, let's take a look at some of the most memorable productions of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE from over the years as we look ahead to this week's live movie theater presentation of it.

First up, go back to 1947 to hear this radio adaptation starring the original cast.

Next, preview the classic 1951 film adaptation with Marlon Brando.

Now, sample the 1984 TV adaptation starring Treat Williams and Ann-Margret.

Also, Jessica Lange takes home a 1996 Golden Globe for STREETCAR.

After that, witness history in the making with Natasha Richardson, Jessica Lange and more discussing the drama.

Plus, Cate Blanchett outlines her recent turn as Blance DuBois.

Take in a scene from the most recent Broadway revival of STREETCAR.

See one of the play's most famous scenes as realized in the Andre Previn-penned opera adaptation.

THE SIMPSONS offer their hilarious and musical take on STREETCAR in this classic clip.

Lastly, check out the trailer for the new Fathom Events presentation of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE.

What precisely makes A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE as potent and powerful today, nearly 70 years after its debut? Is it the compelling poetry of the language employed by Williams? The rich and dramatic storyline? The incredible performance opportunities avaiilable for the actors within it? Whatever the reason, the word that immediately leaps to mind when discussing and dissecting the play is famously featured in the text itself - magic - and the Fathom Events presentation this week is sure to be chock-full of just that with a spate of performers this uniquely intriguing and potentially electrifying.

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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)