Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, then by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by talking about one of the most critically acclaimed plays of all time, A Streetcar Named Desire.
In the sixty first episode of The Simpsons, A Streetcar Named Marge (Season 04, Episode 02), Marge is excited for a change of scenery when she announces that she is going to audition for a local musical production of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Marge: “I haven’t been in a play since high school, and I thought it would be a good chance to meet some other adults.”
Homer is against Marge’s new found interest in acting and doesn’t want her to leave home. Marge, however, goes to the audition to spite him. While demanding director Llewellyn Sinclair initially cuts Marge; eavesdropping on her conversation with Homer, Llewellyn casts Marge in the role of Blanche DuBois in ‘Oh! Streetcar’, the musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Marge is cast opposite Ned Flanders as Stanley Kowalski. Ned is his usual encouraging self and encourages Marge to go through with the breaking the bottle scene. However, it’s not until Homer again irritates Marge that she breaks the bottle.
Eventually when opening night arrives, Marge catches Homer appearing to sleep in the audience. But Homer is actually moved by Marge’s performance and feels saddened over the way Stanley treats Blanche.
But have you ever wondered what A Streetcar Named Desire is?
A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire is a play written by American playwright Tennessee Williams that was first performed on Broadway on December 3, 1947. Born Thomas Lanier Williams III, and going by the pen name Tennessee Williams, he is considered one of the three greatest playwrights of the 20th century (along with Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller). His drama A Streetcar Named Desire is often numbered on short lists of the finest American plays of the 20th century alongside Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. In addition to A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee is most remembered for The Glass Menagerie (1944), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), and The Night of the Iguana (1961).
Tennessee Williams (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983)
The play dramatizes the experiences of Blanche DuBois, a former Southern belle who, after encountering a series of personal losses, leaves behind her privileged background to move into a shabby apartment in New Orleans that her younger sister and brother-in-law have rented.
The original Broadway production opened at the Shubert in New Haven in early November 1947, then played the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, before moving to the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway on December 3, 1947. While the producers originally wanted to cast some established stars, they ultimately settled on Jessica Tandy and Marlon Brando, who were virtual unknowns at the time. The London production, directed by Sir Laurence Olivier, opened at the Aldwych Theatre on October 12, 1949. It starred Bonar Colleano and Vivien Leigh.
In 1951, Warner Bros. released a film adaptation of the play starring Broadway leading man Marlon Brando and London leading lady Vivien Leigh. The film was released on September 18, 1951. The movie won four Academy Awards. It was the first time a film won three out of four acting awards (a feat only accomplished by two films, A Streetcar Named Desire and Network in 1976. The three victories were Vivien Leigh winning for Best Actress, Karl Malden winning for Best Supporting Actor, and Kim Hunter winning for Best Supporting Actress. xMarlon Brando was also nominated for Best Actor, but lost to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen. While unknown at the time, Marlon would go on to be nominated for Best Actor the next three years as well, winning on the first attempt for On The Waterfront in 1954. Marlon would go on to win 2 Academy Awards on 7 nominations for Best Actor. Upon release, the film drew very high praise. The film currently has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 50 reviews. In 1999, A Streetcar Named Desire was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Last year, Woody Allen wrote “The movie Streetcar is for me total artistic perfection… It’s the most perfect confluence of script, performance, and direction I’ve ever seen. I agree with Richard Schickel, who calls the play perfect. The characters are so perfectly written, every nuance, every instinct, every line of dialogue is the best choice of all those available in the known universe. All the performances are sensational. Vivien Leigh is incomparable, more real and vivid than real people I know. And Marlon Brando was a living poem. He was an actor who came on the scene and changed the history of acting. The magic, the setting, New Orleans, the French Quarter, the rainy humid afternoons, the poker night. Artistic genius, no holds barred.”
Now that we’ve learned more about A Streetcar Named Desire, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
Did you remember the episode? What’s your favourite Broadway play? What’s your favourite Tennessee Williams play? Have you ever acted in a play? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.