The Bfi are running a fantastic Tennessee Williams season, so last night Feda, Aida and I made a return to the deep South to see A Streetcar Named Desire and gaze in awe at the matinee idol performances of Marlon Brando and Vivian Leigh on the big screen.
It really is a mountain of a play, a great emotional epic. I can't think that much written in the field of naturalism or poetic-naturalism in the twentieth century can hold a candle to it. The Cherry Orchard? View from a Bridge? Perhaps. But British classics such as Look Back in Anger, Roots, even Roddy Ackland's superb Absolute Hell feel positively urbane and second class in comparison.
I was amazed at Brando's performance - light years ahead of its time and made all the more wonderful by the obvious studio locations, savage cuts from one shot to the next and emotive soundtrack. In every other way the film is nostalgically dated, but Brando is not. And then there is Leigh, whose speed of thought and tone, makes every moment with her on screen spark and fizz. Together they are thunder and lightning.
Even though we knew it was coming we found it hard to take Blanche's final descent into breakdown and ended up watching through our fingers, hands over our faces as she collapsed, regained composure and walked out to the car with the doctor.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.