I just had the occasion to read out loud the last five scenes in A Streetcar Named Desire while working with a high school student and I must say that good ole Tennessee was adept at creating tension, presenting nuanced and multi-dimensional characters and providing a plot that didn’t shy away from any number of controversial subjects. I was also impressed with the strong use of music to communicate Blanche’s internal state, from polka to the “blue piano.” I had read the play before and had seen the movie, but not in a long time. I read it this time with new eyes. Wow. Very powerful stuff.
After my student left, I read an essay at the front of the PDF that I downloaded entitled, “A Streetcar to Success” that Tennessee Williams wrote just four days before the opening of A Streetcar Named Desire. In the essay, he describes his mental state after the success of The Glass Menagerie and how he almost lost himself in the lack of struggle that success afforded him. It is an essay well worth reading if you have time.
Here is the link to the PDF. The essay is short, but quite eye-opening.
Knowing that Tennessee Williams struggled with substance abuse after becoming such a success will make this essay even more poignant.
Please let me know if you read it. I’d love to hear what you thought.