A Streetcar Named Desire

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

23/05/2008 - 16/06/2008

Production Details


Then where’s the money if the place was sold? 

Not sold – lost, lost! {He stalks into the bedroom and she follows him}Stanley! 

Open your eyes to this stuff! You think she got them out of a teacher’s pay? 


Look at these feathers and furs that she came here to preen herself in!  What’s this here?  A solid god dress I believe!  And this one!  What is this here?  Fox-pieces {he blows on them} Genuine fox-fur-pieces, a half a mile long!  Where are your fox-fur pieces Stella?  Bushy snow white ones, no less!  Where are your white fox-pieces? 
A Streetcar Named Desire
MAY 23 – JUNE 16
Tues 6pm
Wed – Sat 7pm
Sun – 4 pm
Book at box office phone:  477 8323 
Or online www.fortunetheatre.co.nz 

I cannot stand a naked light bulb any more than I can a violent remark or rude gesture 
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Principal sponsor BNZ: 
"It is a pleasure to help our theatre bring this classic play to life."  Maurice Bell.

Show sponsor Perpetual Trust

Blanche DuBois:  Jude Gibson
Stanley Kowalski:  Jarod Rawiri
Stella Kowalski:  Jacqueline Nairn
Harold Mitchell:  Erroll Shand
Eunice Hubbell:  Carol Smith
Steve Hubbell:  Chris Horlock
Pablo Gonzales:  Brian Rankin
Doctor/Drunk Man:  Brian McNeill
Matron/Prostitute:  Mãrama Grant
Young Man/Tamale Vendor:  Cameron Taylor
Mexican/Negro Woman:  Olivia Muliaumaseali'I

Set Design:  Peter King
Costume Design:  Maryanne Wright Smyth
Lighting Design:  Alan Surgener
Sound Design:  David Good

Assistant Director:  Esther-Rose Green (Wellington Intern)
Senior Stage Manager:  Brendan van den Berg
Assistant Stage Manager:  Kathrin Simshaeuser (German Intern)
Lighting Operator:  Brendan Van Den Berg, Alan Surgener
Sound Operator:  David Good
Set Construction:  Peter King, Matt Best, Elizabeth Webster
Props: Elizabeth Webster, Kathrin Simshaeuser, Brendan van den Berg
Mechanist:  Rebekah Sherrat
Artwork Main Image Concept by Matt Best
Photography & Design by Marti Rowe
Centrefold Photography:  Melanie Peters - Creative Studios Ltd

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE is presented through special arrangement with The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. 

A heart’s Desire

Review by Anna Chinn 04th Jun 2008

… Director Jef Hall-Flavin, after whose name the Fortune’s marketers have taken to writing a reverential "(USA)", has returned to Dunedin to bring us A Streetcar Named Desire after his success with The Clean House last year.

His is an interesting and innovative production. Although some in the audience heard what they called "inconsistent" southern United States accents from the cast, I heard Kiwi accents delivered with a southern US inflection, perhaps as part of an effort to locate the play in a sort of New Zealand/Orleans parallel universe.  [More


Make a comment

Absorbing emotionally powerful drama – a theatrical tour-de-force

Review by Brenda Harwood 03rd Jun 2008

Stellar performances a Pulitzer Prize-winning script, and tight, gritty direction combine to make the Fortune Theatre production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar named Desire a theatrical tour-de-force.

American guest director Jef Hall-Flavin has brought together a powerful cast to tackle this iconic drama, and between them, they pull it off in style.

The strange and mercurial Blanche is at the centre of everything and stalwart New Zealand actor Jude Gibson nails the role, creating a character whose flaws are obvious, but whom the audience feels great sympathy.

Her opposite, is every respect, is Stanley, created with unnerving accuracy and strong physicality by Jarod Rawiri. His wife, and Blanche’s long-suffering sister Stella is an equally strong and subtle character in the hands of Jacqueline Nairn.

Erroll Shand brings an innocent charm and vulnerability to the role of "love interest" Mitch, while Carol Smith adds nice light and shade as neighbour Eunice.

The remainder of the cast – Chris Horlock, Brian Rankin, Brian McNeill, Marama Grant Cameron Taylor and Olivia Muliaumaseali’i – have smaller roles, invested with energy and subtlety.

Williams’ tale of repression, jealousy and desire is absorbing, emotionally powerful drama, which has a lasting impact. For those who have experienced emotional abuse, it may be difficult to watch at times, but this is theatre at its best! Highly recommended.


Make a comment

Inspired production of Williams' Classic

Review by Keith Harrison 03rd Jun 2008

Dunedin Theatre-goers supported the opening of the Fortune Theatre’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire last Friday by turning out in large numbers.

Streetcar is one of the great postwar plays to come from the United States and one of the best works from the pen of Tennessee Williams. The work is a searing account of the disintegration of personality in the person of Blanche DuBois, the central character.

Williams allows the audience to peer into Blanche’s life and the lives of those around her as we are taken on a journey into the human soul with all its fears, longings and its secrets.

Jude Gibson brings star quality to the role of Blanche, portraying her with sensitivity, understanding and passion. We can all see in Blanche the flaws in her character which present some aspects of ourselves, and when she loses her grasp on reality, living closer to her dreams, we are exposed to the rawness of human tragedy.

Blanche presents a daunting challenge to the actor, and Jude Gibson managed the complexity, the contrasts and the human weaknesses, succeeding in winning the sympathy of the audience. She had an intensity which she always kept in control, giving strength to her performance.

As a playwright, Williams also succeeds in keeping before us his own personal conflict, that of his failure to believe that the desires of the flesh and the spirit can ever be reconciled.

Jacqueline Nairn as Stella, Jarod Rawiri as Stanley and Errol Shand as Mitch offered stunning performances, bringing a unity of excellence to the total presentation.

Jef Hall-Flavin’s production was inspired and made inventive use of a visually exciting set in which the lighting, sound and general technical skills were of the highest quality.

This production of a classic work continues at the Fortune Theatre until June 14.


Make a comment

Gibson a riveting Blanche in faithful production

Review by Terry MacTavish 29th May 2008

Memo to self: Hard to be dispassionate about play that is part of our collective consciousness. Fortunately may rely on the kindness of possibly strange but surely gentle readers…

This is however a production to sweep away preconceptions and carry all with it, thanks largely to a virtuoso performance by Jude Gibson in one of the most demanding roles in the theatrical canon. Although her Blanche Dubois is infuriating, the heart bleeds for her, identifying all too well with her desperate desire to live life as it should be and not as it is. Tennessee Williams once said the quality he most admired was valour, and Gibson’s Blanche is nothing if not valiant.

What a brilliant playwright Williams is, mining his own tortured life for episodes and characters that really breathe. Blanche contains elements of both his faded Southern belle mother and his mentally fragile sister. She has lost the beautiful family home, Belle Reve, and sought sanctuary in New Orleans with Stella, the younger sister who has married Polish Stanley Kowalski, who is a bit of rough trade if ever there was one. ("What such a man has to offer is animal force.")

Initially we tend to sympathise with common Stanley, condescended to and made to feel inadequate in his own home, while refined Blanche is as irritating as possible. But if her pretensions and fantasising enrage Stanley, this relationship provides the tension that propels the plot. Blanche, though terrifyingly genteel, has earned a reputation for promiscuity through her desire to find someone who will offer comfort and protection, and her relations with Stanley are sexually dynamic.

Her guilt over the suicide of her adored young husband – homosexual, like Williams – has left Blanche with a pathological need for self-delusion, but she strives to bring magic into the lives of others as well as herself. "It wouldn’t be make-believe, if you believed in me," sings Blanche during one of her interminable sessions in the Kowalski’s bathroom. Jude Gibson gives a riveting portrayal of her as a survivor who is in many ways admirable. Hideously disappointed in her youthful hope of happiness, desperately fearful of the future, Blanche still holds fast to the dream that life can be gracious and beautiful.

As macho Stanley, Jarod Rawiri makes a creditable effort to match her impact on stage, and generally succeeds when his frustration explodes into violence, forming a striking contrast to his tender moments with Stella. He makes it clear that Stanley, well aware of his shortcomings, is as much threatened by Blanche as angered by her. However, it seems a dubious directing decision to have evoked a convincing impression of the sights and sounds of New Orleans’ street life only to have Stanley’s poker night, the ‘party of apes’ as Blanche calls it, sound more like a scene from Once Were Warriors. To me at least, the clash of cultures appears jarring rather than illuminating.

Jacqueline Nairn is a warm and appealing Stella, vacillating between neurotic sister and bullying husband, her slow sexy descent of the stairs into Stanley’s arms in response to his famous bellowed "Stella!" presaging her eventual betrayal of Blanche. She is a true daughter of Belle Reve after all, determinedly denying truths she cannot tolerate.

Blanche’s one hope of redemption is Stanley’s friend Mitch, given sincerity and a tentative kindliness by Errol Shand. But he too will betray her, succumbing to Stanley’s poisonous gossip and deciding she is worth no more than a clumsy grope. 

The rest of the very competent cast, especially Carol Smith as an irrepressible Eunice, do their utmost to create the steamy atmosphere of the American South. The intense clashes within the cramped apartment are framed by a lively parade of prostitutes, drunks, Mexicans, Negroes, even a tamale vendor, and the Kowalskis aren’t the only passionately explosive couple on the block.

Jef Hall-Flavin’s production is remarkably faithful to Williams’ own stage directions, even to the gothic horror touches of spooky echoing voices, ghostly polka music, and wonderfully lurid lighting when trains rattle and scream across the stage. The set is splendid, reflecting the exterior / interior themes, with the revolve smoothly revealing both outside and inside worlds, while walls become transparent as outer reality breaks through inner fantasy and boundaries dissolve. Somehow the Kowalski’s shabby apartment fits into a partly revealed two-storey house, while the pulsating life of sultry New Orleans eddies around it. The faded colours are a lovely background for Blanche’s floaty white dresses and the occasional startling splash of brilliant red.

Production values are excellent, and Hall-Flavin is blessed with an extraordinarily proficient team in Peter King (set), Maryanne Wright Smyth (costume), Alan Surgener (lighting), and David Good (sound), with polished stage management by Brendan van den Berg. The enthusiastic audience response on opening night surely heralds a successful season of a fine production in which the Fortune can take justifiable pride.

But what lingers is Gibson’s powerful interpretation of a truly great role. Claire Bloom, whom I saw as Blanche in a memorable West End production, had the temerity to ask Williams what would have happened to Blanche after the last act. Rather surprisingly, she got an answer. Blanche, said her creator, would eventually ‘rise from the ashes’ like a phoenix. Gibson’s gutsy performance makes us believe it possible. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council