Thoughts on the Montclair State University Residency

Montclair State University Residency
October 4th thru November 17th
Directed and Choreographed by Kari Margolis
Original Music and Multimedia  Tony Brown

Some thoughts on the project by Kari Margolis

“I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic.”  These seemingly simple words expressed by the unforgettable character of Blanche Dubois speak to the heart of the highly imagistic, visceral and poetic exploration I just completed of Tennessee William’s A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, during a six week residency at Montclair State University.  I am forever grateful to MSU for giving me the opportunity to manifest a vision that’s been inspiring me for several years.  The student ensemble was stellar, open and ready to take the leap into unknown territory!

A theatrical powerhouse of a play, Streetcar’s characters brilliantly capture the tension of the times. The fading, fragile beauty of Blanche embodies the uncertain future of the crumbling iconic old South, while the raw animal magnetism of Stanley theatrically exploits the rapidly changing landscape of American life post World War II.  Both of these characters, and all they represent, stand on shaky ground, fearful of losing what they believe is rightly theirs. Their fear makes them fierce and competitive for all they see embodied in the characters of Stella and Mitch.  

Multiple casting of Blanche and Stanley brought to life both characters’ true inner and outer selves and Tony Brown’s suggestive, sensual multimedia world and rich aural environment really heated up the stage at the Kasser Auditorium New Orlean’s style. Several performances were met with standing ovations, and emails have poured in from audience members expressing how the production affected them.

Like the fractured reflection of a broken mirror we are many things, and life becomes complicated when our illusory selves are revealed.  The tight quarters of the Kowalski’s steamy apartment with its bare light bulbs and lack of privacy becomes the battlefield on which each of the characters fight to hold onto their own version of reality.  While it is Blanche who publicly descends into madness, the sparring matches, manipulations and deep seeded needs of Stanley, Stella and Mitch, reveal how they, and ultimately all of us, walk a fine line between fantasy and reality.  It’s a precarious high wire act, and when jostled, the fall is far and hard. 

I love theatre’s ability to tell universal human stories.  Digging down into this true American classic to find fresh perspectives while respecting on every level Tennessee Williams’ beautiful story and text, was task I took to heart.  I am very proud of the production we created and look forward to opportunities to explore this production even deeper in the future.