Theatre stalwart Joe Hasham brings a daring edge to a dance interpretation of A Streetcar Named Desire.
PLAYWRIGHT Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire, has been made into a movie and staged countless times as a musical, a ballet, an opera and a stage play but audiences never tire of watching it.
For the first time, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play was staged as a dance drama (Aug 7-9) in Kuala Lumpur by The Actors Studio Seni Rakyat and presented by JT International Berhad, in collaboration with the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac).
Directed by Joe Hasham, it was an audacious experiment of having Blanche DuBois dance en pointe while the rest of the dancers used contemporary dance as their genre.
Surprisingly, the clash between classical ballet and contemporary dance worked pretty well to create a dramatic effect.
The play tells the story of fading southern belle schoolteacher Blanche who leaves her troubled past behind.
She carts her huge suitcase and moves into her sister Stella’s cramped New Orleans apartment.
Stella’s brutish husband Stanley senses that Blanche is hiding something, and is further annoyed that his poker buddy Mitch is attracted to her. He sets out to make her life miserable.
The confrontation between the two increases in severity until one of the two must be destroyed.
The recent dance drama at KLPac was a totally different take from the theatre version directed by Hasham in 1993 in Kuala Lumpur, which had a passionate onstage kiss shared by actress Ramona Rahman and Andrew Leci, who played Blanche and Stanley.
Back then, the authorities censored certain scenes of that show series.
In this recent performance, Hasham constructed his dance drama using scenes of joy, tragic conflict, lust, passion and seduction.
A highly dramatic soundtrack, composed by music director Bernard Goh (Hands Percussion) and Deborah Tee, backdropped the sensual scenes on stage.
This was his second attempt at staging a full-length dance drama after Passion in 2008.