Monday, November 2, 2009

Escaping escapism by Streetcar

Oh dear. This morning's  lead story in The New York Times (on-line) is: "Karzai Declared Re-elected in Afghanistan," but only because of the withdrawal from the race of his last challenger, Abdullah Abdullah. The Times goes on to opine that this leaves the U.S. in a real mess.

Next, we learn that Ford, the auto giant that didn't get bailed out, has managed to post a 1-billion dollar profit, and that Obama's strategy on health care legislation appears to be paying off. Go figure on both accounts.

It's all a bit much to grasp on a Monday morning, at least for this reporter, so, instead, I'll go back to thinking about this.

Yes, Cate Blanchett is Blanche DuBois, right now at the Kennedy Center.  "Blanchett fires 'Streetcar's eternal combustion engine" heads a story I want to read. Even on a Monday.

"If Cate Blanchett's nerve-shattering turn as Blanche DuBois doesn't knock the wind out of you," writes Peter Marks in The Washington Post, "then there is nothing on a stage that can blow you away. What Blanchett achieves in the Sydney Theatre Company's revelatory revival of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' amounts to a truly great portrayal -- certainly the most heartbreaking Blanche I've ever experienced."

We've all seen a production of Streetcar, haven't we? Tennessee Williams' nailing of a stubborn, alcoholic, fragile woman to the cross of her own pretensions and denial. On stage, we watched Blanche DuBois, a frail reminder of former beauty and charm, dying of her own inability to get real--real about who she is, where she came from, where she is.

If what you remember of your production of Streetcar is the set or even Stanley Kowolski, then please go to another one. A production of this play that cooks, in my opinion, belongs to Blanche, because she's one of those great theater creations that reaches something universal in each of us that we'd rather not face--our own ability to self-destruct by clinging to what we wish was real rather than what is real.

It's a good thing to think about on a Monday morning when world-wide reality seems particularly hard to come to terms with. Thinking about a great Blanche DuBois reminds us that the alternative to facing reality, is not facing it. And that that, eventually, makes everything much worse.

Too bad we can't organize a bus trip to go see Ms. Blanchett. Her Streetcar, it seems, is completely sold out.

1 comment:

  1. Like your post on Career Advice, these words gives my tenacious, slow, meticulous, and ever change-resistant nature a jolt. Yes, we must move along, not break with the exertion of holding on. Boundless energy or a kind of zen peace -- that's what it seems to take to stay on top of it all . . . .