Monday, November 2, 2009

A Streetcar Named Desire

Last week I attended a Sydney Theatre Company production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Kennedy Center. Now, I'd like to say that I went because I'm a patron of dramatic arts, or because I'm an aficionado of classic literature, but my decision to go was based mostly on the fact that Cate Blanchett was playing the role of Blanche DuBois. Suffice it to say I have no merit to pen a declaration of my judgement regarding the quality of the play. I do, however, feel inclined to comment on certain aspects of the show, i.e. Blanche Dubois' fantastic wardrobe.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find many photos of said wardrobe, so please forgive me as I attempt to stumble through an amateur description.

Costume Designer Tess Schofield, S.T.C.'s resident designer, has designed for numerous Operas, Musicals, and Movies. Unfortunately, none of which I've had the privilege of seeing. I base my intrigue of Tess Schofield solely on costumes conspicuously displayed in this particular show.

Unable to take my eyes off of Cate Blanchett, perhaps the intention of director Liv Ullmann, I was immediately taken with the cold sophistication of a modern southern belle moments before succumbing to a twist of life changing circumstance. In the beginning of the play Blanche DuBois was dressed in a smartly tailored suit. She was cool and aloof. Everything about Cate Blanchett, or Blanche DuBois (I don't know which), worked immaculately together. I mean to say that her suit, shoes, luggage, hair, lips, skin, superior cheek bones, voice... everything melded seamlessly and elegantly together. The tone of her character was cool, think CZ Guest. Think of a WASP in a cold Gustavian interior. In my uneducated opinion Cate didn't wear her wardrobe so much as it and she became one joint character. As the play progressed her costumes began to portray her fraying character. The wardrobe once seen as chic and collected began to loose shape and seem cheap, albeit still beautiful.

Tess Schofield showed Blanche DuBois as a great contradiction. She was both traditional and modern, soft and hard. Her character exuded a generally feminine aura with a punctuation of masculinity.
Just as stained glass windows were created not just to serve as pleasant ornamentation, but also as a means to illuminate an otherwise unattainable story to those poor wretched illiterates who were unable to read; perhaps costume designer Tess Schofield was able to capture the essence of the character so that people like me would be able to understand her story.


  1. Love her. I think I would have the same reason to see the play as you had.

  2. Good to hear, Katie! She was amazing. I was lucky enough to have really good seats, and I couldn't keep my eyes off of her! If it comes your way, or if you find yourself in DC or NY soon, I encourage you to see it.

  3. I will forever adore Cate Blanchett...her talent and style know no bounds I think. I'm so jealous you saw her on stage!

  4. I think most people will be going to see her.

  5. Wonderful review! It is so good to read someone who understands and appreciates the part artful costuming plays in a production.

    And, I would follow Cate Blanchett anywhere!

  6. Laura -You are right, Cate's talent, style, and beauty know no bounds!

    Beth -That's good to hear.

    Pamela Terry and Edward -Thanks for stopping by my modest and too often neglected blog! I just checked yours out and am instantly hooked! I can't wait to rush back over to your blog and read every archived post!! (Ask Beth, I really do that!) Your newest fan, s.

  7. well...brava Cate, but what about Stanley? Look so...raw.

  8. Massi -Thanks for stopping by. Very observant of you... Stanley provided a stellar performance, albeit raw.

  9. Oh dear, how I would love to see this! Cate is my fave of all faves. BTW, you have a kindred spirit for cemeteries, and the Fitzgeralds in me! Hello.