Talking to the Cast of A Streetcar Named Desire (UC Follies) – blogUT

When I ask how rehearsal is going, there’s a heavy silence.

“Good,” says Madeleine Yachnin, the production’s Blanche, and everyone agrees. She is part of a daring young cast of students, some experienced – like Yachnin, who is a recent graduate of the UofT Drama Department – and some first-years. They face the challenge of mounting a famously difficult play, and one of the most recognizable shows of all time, in front of peers, teachers, and the public.

Morgan explains that “It’s a lot of work.” The cast is confronted every day by a script that demands characters to be at emotional extremes, to say nothing of the audience’s expectations. “It’s terrifying to take on this huge, huge role,” Yachnin confesses, adding, “I’ll never be Vivian Leigh”.

Reece Presley has played Stanley before, but “when I previously played him, I played him a bit more soft,” Presley says. This time around, he’s exploring Stanley’s dark, passionate side, which he describes as playing “a little more of a bad guy.”

“To say the least,” Yachnin adds. She has also played her role, but in Interior Panic, an earlier Tennesse Williams project that would eventually develop into Streetcar.

What makes it worth the effort?

The cast start their answers a few times, but can’t find the words. “We want to explore the violence because we are seeing this right now,” Yachnin finally says. Her character is the most iconic rape victim in contemporary drama. “We are bombarded with sexual abuse, domestic violence. We were thinking a lot about Jian Ghomeshi when that came up.”

In one of the Follies’ earlier productions of the year, Woyzeck, disturbing action was represented by abstract scenes involving paint and water. The director wanted to avoid triggering a reaction in her audience. But Streetcar is different.

“We explore the tough content, and we’re going to show the tough content,” Yachnin declares.

Elyse Waugh, the production’s assistant director, has been quiet until now. Carefully, she explains: “To visualize this in a performance, and to make people think about that. To think that yes, stuff like this does happen. On a university campus.”

A Streetcar Named Desire runs from November 29-December 6.

Tickets here.

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