Exploring the greatest new and classic plays

SUPPORT OUR PODCAST BY BECOMING A PATRON
CLICK HERE

Thomas Keith

Thomas Keith

Thomas Keith

Professor Thomas Keith teaches theater and acting at Pace University in New York.

He is a consulting editor for New Directions Publishing where he has edited the Tennessee Williams titles since 2002, and is the scholarly editor for three volumes of Williams plays, A House Not Meant to Stand, Now the Cats with Jeweled Claws, and The Magic Tower & Other One-Act Plays.

Co-editor of The Letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin, Thomas edited Love, Christopher Street—LGBTQ essays about New York City—and his writing has appeared in American Theater Magazine, Gay & Lesbian Review, and Studies in Scottish Literature.

Thomas has served as dramaturge for the Sundance Institute Theater Lab, La MaMa E.T.C., Mabou Mines, and the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.

Recommended Play(s)

Thomas recommended Clyde’s by Lynn Nottage, and Downstate by Bruce Norris.

 

 

 

 

 

060 – A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams

060 – A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams

Paul Mescal as Stanley and
Patsy Ferran as Blanche
at the Almeida Theatre, London 2023
Photo by Marc Brenner

 

060 – A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the towering masterpieces of American theatre, distinguished for its frank depiction of sexual compulsion, its lyrical language, and its poignant portrait of mental fragility, as well as the bitter clash between two of the greatest dramatic characters – the damaged and defiant Blanche Dubois and the unrestrained masculine power that is Stanley Kowalski.

Streetcar as the play is familiarly known, opened on Broadway in December 1947 with Jessica Tandy as Blanche, and a virtual unknown at the time, Marlon Brando, as Stanley. The first UK production was in October 1949, directed by Laurence Olivier and starring his wife Vivien Leigh as Blanche, who would of course go on to reprise the role with Brando in the famous 1951 film.

The play has been revived many times on stage and on the small screen, attracting renowned actors to its lead roles. A new production at the Almeida theatre in London, directed by Rebecca Frecknall, with Patsy Ferran as Blanche and Paul Mescal as Stanley, opened to rave reviews at the end of last year, and its transfer to the West End this month is already sold out.

I’m delighted to be able to devote an episode of the podcast to this giant of a play, and privileged to be joined by an expert of Tennessee Williams, Professor Thomas Keith. Professor Keith has edited more than twenty of Williams’s titles for New Directions Publishing over the past two decades. He is also the co-editor of The Letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin, and the resident dramaturge at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival. He teaches acting and theatre at Pace University in New York.

Thomas Keith

Professor Thomas Keith teaches theater and acting at Pace University in New York.

He is a consulting editor for New Directions Publishing where he has edited the Tennessee Williams titles since 2002, and is the scholarly editor for three volumes of Williams plays, A House Not Meant to Stand, Now the Cats with Jeweled Claws, and The Magic Tower & Other One-Act Plays.

Co-editor of The Letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin, Thomas edited Love, Christopher Street—LGBTQ essays about New York City—and his writing has appeared in American Theater Magazine, Gay & Lesbian Review, and Studies in Scottish Literature.

Thomas has served as dramaturge for the Sundance Institute Theater Lab, La MaMa E.T.C., Mabou Mines, and the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.

Recommended Play

Thomas recommended Clyde’s by Lynn Nottage, and Downstate by Bruce Norris.

 

Photo © Marc Brenner
We have footnotes for this episode …

The Footnotes to our episode on A Streetcar Named Desire include more on the autobiographic sources for the play, observations on the character of Blanche’s young gay husband, and on the social context in the time the play was written.

Become a Patron!

Since I launched The Play Podcast in April 2020, I have managed to eschew any form of advertising or sponsorship, and I would like to continue to produce the podcast without doing so. I therefore invite you to help me to continue to make the podcast by becoming a Patron.
Additional benefits available to Patrons include Footnotes on the plays covered in the podcast, as well as exclusive access to The Play Review.

For details click here

Thank you very much for listening and for your support.
Douglas

The Texts
If you are interested in buying the play text or other related books, we’d be delighted if you choose to purchase them from our selected partners Bookshop.org and Blackwell’s. Not only will you be supporting independent booksellers, we will also earn a small commission on every book you purchase, which helps to keep the podcast going. Click on the cover to buy from our chosen partner. Thank you.
You might also be interested in …
079 – The Hills of California, by Jez Butterworth

079 – The Hills of California, by Jez Butterworth

A new Jez Butterworth play is a theatrical event. The Hills of California is currently running at the Harold Pinter theare in London’s West End, directed by Sam Mendes. Do not be misled by the title, however, we are not in sunny California, but in the back streets of Blackpool, where four daughters come together to say goodbye to their dying mother. The play is a portrait of lost dreams, of deeply ingrained patterns of love and hurt within a family, and of suppressed and mutable memories.

I’m joined to explore this major new work by Sean McEvoy, author of Class, Culture and Tragedy in the Plays of Jez Butterworth.

078 – The Lover and The Collection, by Harold Pinter

078 – The Lover and The Collection, by Harold Pinter

We have a double-bill in this episode of two short plays written by Harold Pinter in the early 1960s: The Lover and The Collection, both of which explore sexual compulsion and the manipulation of truth within marriage or partnerships. As we record this episode a new production of both plays is playing at the Theatre Royal in Bath, directed by Lindsay Posner.

I’m delighted to welcome Lindsay back to the podcast to talk about these two Pinter gems.

Claudie Blakley and David Morrissey in The Lover
Photo by Nobby Clark

077 – An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen

077 – An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People is a fable of truth and lies, politics and power, and the challenge and costs of pursuing an unpopular crusade to speak truth to power. It’s a story of ‘fake news’, manipulation of the media, the dangers of populism, and the environmental cost of capitalism. No wonder it strikes a chord in our time, for as we record this episode there are two major new productions of An Enemy of the People on the world stage.

I’m delighted to welcome back to the podcast, Ibsen expert, Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, who I was privileged to talk with in episode 74 on Ibsen’s play Ghosts

Matt Smith as Thomas Stockmann
Duke of York’s Theatre, London
Photo by Manuel Harlan