A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Fri 15 Feb—Fri 15 Mar
There are a few movies that have become so iconic that they overshadow the great pieces of theatre they are based on. One such case is Tennessee Williams’ classic of passion and alienation. Think of it, and you’ll think of Marlon Brando sweltering away in his vest, working out a complex, ultimately destructive relationship with Vivien Leigh.
It is the image of Brando’s Stanley Kowolski, even more than Leigh’s Blanche Du Bois, that we remember from the film, and it provides us with an abiding mental image of Williams’ play. Set the tall order of playing Stanley is Durham- born actor Paul Hamilton and he’s already aware of the nature of the task that confronts him. An experienced stage actor, Hamilton recently spent eighteen months touring the world with Theatre de Complicité and has just finished the shoot of the new British horror film The Gathering, in which he appears with Christina Ricci. His recent
Belles, books and Brando: Paul Hamilton
experience of American classics includes English productions of A View From The Bridge and The Crucible, but does Brando’s image overshadow the role of Stanley? Unlike the roles of Eddie Carbone or John Proctor in the two earlier plays does this one carry audience assumptions about the role played?
‘It has crossed my mind,’ says the affable Hamilton. ‘Not long after I moved into my digs, the landlady asked me what play I was doing. When I told her she knew the play well through the film, and described a scene between Brando and Leigh really precisely. But I don’t think it’s really a definitive performance. The thing about Brando is he looks so beautiful all the way through the film that you could stop it at any point and turn the frame into a postcard, but because of this, you don’t always notice the acting. I’m trying to make my own Stanley. I’m not ignoring Brando’s, but you have to make it your own, to some extent.’
The story of the ageing downwardly mobile southern
belle who descends upon her sister and brother in law in a seamy district of New Orleans, eventually sparking off emotional trauma, has a myriad of meanings for an audience. For the homosexual perspective, read John Binnie’s article on this issue’s Gay page, and there’s certainly also an aspect of class conflict under the disturbing, ultimately violent relationship between Stanley and Blanche, who will be played by the popular Lyceum regular Jennifer Black in this Muriel Romanes production.
‘It was written at a time when the last of the great southern estates had declined, and you must remember that Williams was originally from this background,’ says Hamilton. ‘These folks really were traumatised by their encounter with an economically harsher world and to some extent Williams underwent similar trials to Blanche.’
If you’ve seen the movie, you know what not to expect. (Steve Cramer)
MADAME BUTTERFLY Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 26 Feb-Sat 2 Mar
David Nixon’s magic
DaVid Nixon is a man With a plan. A grand plan to steer Northern Ballet Theatre back on course after four years of stormy seas. Since the untimely death of Christopher Gable in 1998. the company have been beset
56 THE LIST '-1 21?", f of, 7.7.7
by bad luck: Gables replacement Stefano Giannetti left Within a year. their Leeds headquarters suffered expensive fire damage and gothic horror Jekyl/ And Hyde burnt their fingers yet further. But that's all set to change. Since taking up the role of NBT's artistic director. Nixon has set about shaping a company worthy of Gable's memory. And one more than deserving of a fabulous new dance centre due to open in Leeds next year.
'When we get the new building we can really be a centre of dance outside London.’ says Nixon. 'A strong national company, not in competition with London but in complementary form. But the grand plan w0u|d be to see this company have a much l')roader base than the others. stylistically. And to continue their ability to interpret roles. but strengthen that With the danCing. I don't want to put words in Christopher Gables mouth. but in many ways I think that was probably what he would have ended up withf
The first step on the road to glory will be Nixon's own Madame Butterfly. Originally choreographed for America‘s BalletMet. where he enjoyed a successful seven-year tenure. Nixon has re-worked fifty per cent of the dance for British audiences. And although the ballet is set to Puccini's moving score. Nixon dug a little deeper for his inspiration. “I'd always loved the opera. but when l was doing the ballet I really went back to the original Belasco play and to an article that inspired him,‘ he explains.
The production is steeped in Japanese Culture. thanks in part to Nixon’s love of Kabuki theatre. but also his Japanese American wife. acclaimed ballerina Yoko lchino. for whom the original Butterfly role was created: a challenging part which several dancers have since cherished. 'lt's very often an instant standing ovation for the woman at the end of the evening.‘ says Nixon. ‘Because it‘s quite a vehicle and I think it moves people.‘ (Kelly Apter)
The talk of the green room
WHISPERS WELCOMES THE announcement of an extra €3.5m over three years for Scottish theatre after the deferment of the national theatre prOJeCt. As Our news feature on page four suggests. it does not go all the way to solVing the chronic underfunding of Scottish theatre. but it WOuld be churlish not to welcome it as a step in the right direction. You still wonder. though. how none of the funding has found its way into the coffers of the beleaguered Brunton Theatre. A campaign to save the Brunton is underway and Whispers awaits the reSLilts with interest. Watch this space.
ANOTHER COMPANY to miss out on the funding it requires is Raindog, which has announced its closure as a result of financial restrictions. Over a decade on, the company, among whose founder members was Robert Carlyle, has been forced to close its doors. Raindog will be remembered as a vital company whose determination to bring theatre to younger audiences and non theatre-going communities brought a freshness to its productions. Young Blood, its youth company, whose outreach programmes brought new interest in the theatre, will also close.
Raindogs 1994 hit Wasted
NOW IF YOU'RE UP
for the challenge of live performance. but don't know how to go ab0ut it. y0u might want to seize the opportunity offered by the Edinburgh Fringe on Saturday 16 February. It'll be holding a roadshow at 2pm at the Apex Hotel in Edinburgh's Grassmarket. where you can hop onto the stage free of charge and try out your skills in front of a live audience. Thespian. comedian or whatever yOur skill. y0u can test it against a live audience — also admitted free — and take advantage of the adVice offered by the seasoned professonals of the Fringe Office. Do yOu have the cahones’? For details phone the Fringe on 0131 226 0026.