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Play’s themes hold up after 70 years

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Liliana Castaneda
Arts Editor

“A Streetcar Named Desire” stopped by the Candlelight Pavilion March 4 and left some audience members clutching their purses, and on the verge of tears, with the gripping performance.

“Streetcar” follows the life and demise of Blanche, a previously wealthy school teacher who after losing her family’s fortune and reputation takes lodging with her sister Stella who left their extravagant plantation for a life alongside a war veteran named Stanley in a small city apartment.

“I think that Blanche has this entitlement, she is a very insecure person, and so because of her insecurity she just really projects all of her needs and wants onto others,” said Robin Steege, Inland Valley Repertory Theatre volunteer and actress.

The production was presented by a nonprofit organization called the Inland Valley Repertory Theatre which has partnerships with other organizations to have a shared venue and set.

Their goal is to expose the local community to theater, including high school kids.

“What I’m hearing from the audience already is the fact that even though this is one of the most popular shows of the 20th century it’s still very relevant in the fact that in our society we still live in the old, we deal with mental health, we deal with alcoholism, deal with marriage abuse,” director Frank Minano said.

The performance took place in the same set as “Little Shop of Horrors,” the sci-fi musical comedy the Candlelight Pavilion was currently staging.

A solitary dim yellow light bulb hung above a small table that introduced the audience to the rest of the set.

Tin trash cans and fencing of metal sheets framed the stage with multiple brick buildings in the background, and blue lighting setting the atmosphere of a tired, rickety neighborhood. The set featured a small humble room dead center on the stage with curtains as doors and little furniture.

Throughout the play one felt the sensual tension that Blanche was directing towards Stanley, though did not return the same feelings.

Instead he thought Blanche was taking advantage of Stella with her pitiful sob story.

Her backstory was not revealed until later, when she left herself vulnerable to a love interest.

“I think Blanche is just a sad woman, she had this idea of who she was going to be, she lost her husband and when she had to stay and take care of the plantation it had been going under,” Steege said.

After indulging her sorrow in alcohol and what is implied as sexual favors in a nearby hotel, Blanche’s reputation was also tarnished. Her love interest no longer interested, and her brother-in-law accused her of insanity. Where delusions of grandeur had existed before, delusions of love and suitors materialized.

“The whole idea of desire, dreams, memories and reality,” said Patrick Brien, executive director of the Riverside Arts Council. “Reality is a very sharp sword in this case, and it cuts through the dreams in a very very harsh way.”

The cast created an atmosphere of relatability, where one felt as though the other audience members were not there and one was experiencing the entirety of the events across the street through the window of a neighbor’s home.

The intimate emotions in a character’s monologues and how those attitudes shifted as did the environment demonstrated a look into the mind of a character, and their sincere feelings contrary to what they wanted to showcase in front of others.

“Any character that I do personally I have to find some common ground even though that sounds like a very tough job, and with this character it is, but like I’ve said I’ve done some flawed characters before,” said Aaron Pyle, the actor who played Stanley. “And actors say you’re not supposed to judge a character but I have to find something, and then I come to forgive them because I am also flawed; I have also done things that I regret.”

IVRT will continue to present “A Streetcar Named Desire” through Wednesday and will present “West Side Story” as their following production.

Pyle will also showcase his acting skills in a two person performance called “Red” at Ophelia’s Jump.

“The success of this particular production is that it manages to touch your feelings,” Brien said.

Liliana Castañeda can be reached at liliana.castaneda@laverne.edu.

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