The theater play “A Streetcar Named Desire” gathered AUBG students and faculty members in Dr. Djerassi Theater Hall on Oct. 13 and Oct. 14. The Broadway Performance Club performed the famous play for the first time after a year of preparation and fighting against COVID-19 restrictions.
“A Streetcar Named Desire” is a theater play written by the American author Tennessee Williams. It became both William’s most famous work and one of the most praised plays of the 20th century. The play reveals the dramatic experiences of Blanche DuBois, one of the main characters, who leaves her privileged background. She moves into a small apartment in New Orleans rented by her younger sister, Stella Dubois, and her husband, Stanley Kowalski.
First performed on Broadway on Dec. 3, 1947, William’s work came to life again at Dr. Djerassi Theater Hall’s stage. Evgeniya Trifonova, a senior at AUBG, played Blanche DuBois, while Boryana Ivanova and Georgi Petkov, both juniors at AUBG, took the roles of Stella DuBois and Stanley Kowalski respectively.
“Neurotic, tragic, and opportunistic,” Trifonova said when describing her character.
For the three main actors, the task of getting into their characters’ shoes was not that easy. Apart from Ivanova who thinks of herself as “90 percent Stella,” Trifonova and Petkov shared that they do not have that many things in common with their characters, which made it more difficult for them to perform that well.
“I do not think it is possible to be zero percent like your character. If you want to get into their skin, you have to find a kind of connection even if it is little,” Petkov said. “I am 10 percent Stanley, maybe even less. However, throughout the process, I found some things that propelled me into understanding him more.”
“In the beginning, we all struggled to relate to these people. It was hard for us to find the part of ourselves that is most in touch with our characters. But it is a kind of self-exploratory journey,” Trifonova said.
COVID-19, however, remained the main obstacle the cast had to face and deal with. The pandemic situation last year as well as the online spring semester made it more difficult for the actors to perform and even rehearse.
“Because of COVID-19 and all the restrictions, we had to postpone the premiere of the play. However, I am happy that we finally did it,” Boris Dechev, director of the play, said at the opening on Oct. 13.
The Broadway Performance Club started preparing for “A Streetcar Named Desire” in Fall 2020 but the audience could only see the product of their efforts, time, and energy a year later. During the year of preparation, the cast had some struggles and fights over whether it was worth it.
“As an assistant director, I can say it was discouraging. Many times we struggled to find the motivation to continue it,” Petkov said.
The delay did not stop the actors from continuing and getting things to the end. Trifonova, Ivanova, and Petkov even found some positive aspects of the long process of preparation, the time they spent rehearsing, and the efforts they put into getting to know their characters better.
“I am really thankful I had the opportunity to spend more time with them. I got to know them as people and bond with them and thus bond as characters,” Ivanova said.
“We became like a family. We spent so much time together that you cannot even imagine how many hours we were together,” Trifonova added.
“Finding the time and energy,” as Trifonova said, was another difficulty to overcome during the stressful and busy 2020/2021 year. As in every performance, there were some issues behind the scenes that the audience could not see. The cast succeeded in covering them up and thus left the audience with the impression that the play was performed exactly the way it was meant to be.
“Many things went wrong during the play but the audience does not know about them. For example, on the second day, the street lamp fell. But we just had to keep going,” Petkov said.
The whole cast pushed, helped, and supported each other so that the audience could enjoy the emotionally charged play.
The performance did not only touch a lot of people in the Theater Hall but it also made the actors themselves cry their eyes out. On Oct. 13, after the play finished, the audience could see tears in Ivanova’s eyes.
“Well, sometimes I cry on demand. And it is always when I start faking it that actual tears come out. At that moment, my tears were real,” Ivanova said.
The actors’ emotions show how important and appealing the play is to them. Even the huge amount of lines they had to learn did not hinder them from their main goal: to see the play come alive.
“We know it by heart. That is why he can say my lines, I can say his. We know the whole play by heart, all the hundred-and-something pages because this is the kind of play you either do fully or not do it at all,” Trifonova said.
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