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Streetcar Named Desire


  ©SIGNET <2 SIGNET CLASSIC

  PLAYS BY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

  (0451)

  Q CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF by Tennessee Williams. The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama

  of guilt, frustration and greed set in Mississippi. "Mr. Williams' finest drama, ft

  faces and speaks the truth."--Brooks Atkinson, The New York Times. a, (165233--H5&)

  D A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE by Tennessee Williams. This is one of the most

  remarkable plays of our times. It created an immortal woman in the character of

  Blanche DuBois, the haggard and fragile southern beauty whose pathetic last grasp at happiness is cruelly destroyed and Stanley Kowalski, a sweat-shirted

  barbarian, the crudely sensual brother-in-law who precipitated Blanche's tragedy.

  (167783--$4.99)

  D TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: FOUR PLAYS. This superb collection includes Summer and

  Smoke, the story of two ill-starred lovers--one hungered for the spirit, the other

  hungered for the flesh. Orpheus Descending, the searing drama of a wandering

  guitar player and the storekeeper's wife he loved. Suddenly Last Summer, he was a corrupt pleasure-seeker and she was the beautiful young cousin he had

  chosen as a victim. Period of Adjustment, they were two young couples

  fighting love out on the battlefield of marriage. (525124--$5.95)

  D THREE BY TENNESSEE by Tennessee Williams. This volume includes Sweet Bird of

  Youth, the story of the aging actress and the young stud--two lovers trying to

  escape their hidden selves The Rose Tattoo, a lonely Italian widow finds a

  physical substitute for her husband in a virile truckdriver The Night of the

  Iguana, a spitfire sensualist and a genteel spinster fight desperately for the

  affections of a defrocked minister. (521498--$4.9®

  '/

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  A Streetcar

  Named Desire

  BY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

  With an Introduction by the Author

  ®

  A SIGNET BOOK

  SIGNET

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Books USA Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

  New Yoik, New York 10014, U.S.A.

  Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane,

  London W8 5TZ, England

  Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood,

  Victoria, Australia

  Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcora Avenue,

  Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2

  Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road,

  Auckland 10, New Zealand

  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices;

  Harniondsworth, Middlesex, England

  Published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Books USA Inc.

  Published as a SIGNET BOOK

  by arrangement with James Laughtm. New Directions,

  and Tennessee Williams, who authorized this

  scftcover edition.

  55 54 53 52 51 50 49 48 47

  Copyright © 1947 by Tennessee Williams, Renewed 1974

  by Tennessee Williams

  All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

  CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that A Streetcar Named

  Desire, being fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States, the British

  Empire including the Dominion of Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright

  Union, is subject to royalty All rights including professional, amateur, motion-picture,

  recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio and television broadcasting, and the rights of

  translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid on

  the question of readings, permission for which must be obtained in writing from the

  author's agent. All inquiries should be addressed to the author's agent: Mr Mitch

  Douglas. International Creative Management, 40 West 57th Street, New York, New

  York 10019.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  Photographs of the original New York production—Eileen Darby,

  Graphic House, Inc

  Photographs from the film—Wamer Bros.

  "It's Only A Paper Moon" copyright 1933 by Harms, Inc

  Used by permission.

  The lines from Hart Crane are reprinted from "Collected Poems of

  Hart Crane" by permission of Liveright Publishing Corp., New York

  ®

  REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REOISTRADA

  Printed in the United States of America

  If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen

  property It was reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher and neither the

  author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book

  And so it was I entered the broken world

  To trace the visionary company of love, its voice

  An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)

  But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

  "The Broken Tower" by hart ckane

  FR1;INTRODUCTION

  On A Streetcar Named Success*

  by

  TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

  (This essay appeared in The New York Times Drama Section, November 30,1947--four

  days before the New York opening of A Streetcar Named Desire.)

  Sometime this month I will observe the third anniversary of

  the Chicago opening of "The Glass Menagerie," an event

  which terminated one part of my life and began another about

  as different in all external circumstances as could be well

  imagined. I was snatched out of virtual oblivion and thrust into

  sudden prominence, and from the precarious tenancy of furnished

  rooms about the country I was removed to a suite in a

  first-class Manhattan hotel. My experience was not unique.

  Success has often come that abruptly into the lives of Americans.

  No, my experience was not exceptional, but neither was it quite ordinary, and if you are willing to accept the somewhat

  eclectic proposition that I had not been writing with such an

  experience in mind--and many people are not willing to believe

  that a playwright is interested in anything but popular

  success--there may be some point in comparing the two

  estates.

  The sort of life which I had had previous to this popular

  success was one that required endurance, a life of clawing and

  scratching along a sheer surface and holding on tight with raw

  fingers to every inch of rock higher than the one caught hold

  of before, but it was a good life because it was the sort of life

  for which the human organism is created.

  I was not aware of how much vital energy had gone into

  this struggle until the struggle was removed. I was out on a

  level plateau with my arms still thrashing and my lungs still

  grabbing at air that no longer resisted. This was security at

  last.

  I sat down and looked about me and was suddenly very

  depressed. I thought to myself, this is just a period of adjust-

  *Copyright, 1947, by The New York Times.

  INTRODUCTION

  ment. Tomorrow morning I will wake up in this first-class

  hotel suite above the discreet hum of an East Side boulevard

  and I will appreciate its elegance and luxuriate in its comforts

  and know that I have arrived at our American plan of Olympus.

  Tomorrow morning when I look at the green satin sofa I

  will fall in love with it. It is only temporarily that the green

  satin looks like slime on stagnant water.

  But in the morning the inoffensive little sofa looked more

  revolting than the night before and I was already getting too

  fat for the $125 suit which a fashionable acquaintance had

  selected for me. In the suite things began to break accidentally.

  An arm came off the sofa. Cigarette burns appeared on the

  polished surfaces of the furniture. Windows were left open and

  a rainstorm flooded the suite. But the maid always put it

  straight and the patience of the management was inexhaustible.

  Late parties could not offend them seriously. Nothing short of

  a demolition bomb seemed to bother my neighbors.

  I lived on room-service. But in this, too, there was a disenchantment.

  Sometime between the moment when I ordered

  dinner over the 'phone and when it was rolled into my living

  room like a corpse on a rubber-wheeled table, I lost all interest

  in it. Once I ordered a sirioin steak and a chocolate sundae,

  but everything was so cunningly disguised on the table that I

  mistook the chocolate sauce for gravy and poured it over the

  sirloin steak.

  Of course all this was (he more trivial aspect of a spiritual

  dislocation that began to manifest itself in far more disturbing

  ways. I soon found myself becoming indifferent to people. A

  well of cynicism rose in me. Conversations all sounded like

  they had been recorded years ago and were being played back

  on a turntable. Sincerity and kindliness seemed to have gone

  out of my friends' voices. I suspected them of hypocrisy. I

  stopped calling them, stopped seeing them. I was impatient of

  what I took to be inane flattery.

  I got so sick of hearing people say, "I loved your play!" that

  I could not say thank you any more. I choked on the words

  and turned rudely away from the usually sincere person. I no

  longer felt any pride in the play itself but began to dislike it, probably because I felt too lifeless inside ever to create another.

  I was walking around dead in my shoes, and I knew it

  but there was no one I knew or trusted sufficiently, at that

  time, to take him aside and tell him what was the matter.

  FR1;INTBODTTOTIOKr

  This curious condition persisted about three months, tin late

  spring, when I decided to have another eye operation, mainly

  because of the excuse it gave me to withdraw from the world

  behind a gauze mask. It was my fourth eye operation, and

  perhaps I should explain that I had been afflicted for about five

  years with a cataract on my left eye which required a series of

  needling operations and finally an operation on the muscle of

  the eye. (The eye is still in my head. So much for that.)

  Well, the gauze mask served a purpose. While I was resting

  in the hospital the friends whom I had neglected or affronted

  in one way or another began to call on me and now that I was

  in pain and darkness, their voices seemed to have changed, or rather that unpleasant mutation which I had suspected

  earlier in the season had now disappeared and they sounded

  now as they used to sound in the lamented days of my obscurity.

  Once more they were sincere and kindly voices with

  the ring of truth in them.

  When tile gauze mask was removed I found myself in a readjusted

  world. I checked out of the handsome suite at the

  first-class hotel, packed my papers and a few incidental belongings

  and left for Mexico, an elemental country where you can

  quickly forget the false dignities and conceits imposed by success, a country where vagrants innocent as children curl up to

  deep on the pavements and human voices, especially when

  their language is not familiar to the ear, are soft as birds'. My

  public self, that artifice of mirrors, did not exist here and so

  my natural being was resumed.

  Then, as a final act of restoration, I settled for a while at

  Chapala to work on a play called "The Poker Night," which

  later became "A Streetcar Named Desire." It is only in his

  work that an artist can find reality and satisfaction, for the

  actual world is less intense than the world of his invention and

  consequently his life, without recourse to violent disorder, does

  not seem very substantial. The right condition for him is that

  in which his work is not only convenient but unavoidable.

  This is an over-simplification. One does not escape that

  easily from the seductions of an effete way of life. You cannot

  arbitrarily say to yourself, I will now continue my life as it was

  before this thing. Success happened to me. But once you fully

  apprehend the vacuity of a life without struggle you are

  equipped with the basic means of salvation. Once you know

  this is true, that the heart of man, his body and his brain, are

  INTRODUCTION

  forged in a white-hot furnace for the purpose of conflict (the

  struggle pf creation) and that with the conflict removed, the

  man is a sword cutting daisies, that not privation but luxury is

  the wolf at the door and that the fangs of this wolf are all the

  little vanities and conceits and laxities that Success is hen- to--

  why, then with this knowledge you are at least in a position

  of knowing where danger lies.

  You know, then, that the public Somebody you are when

  you "have a name" is a fiction created with mirrors and that

  the only somebody worth being is the solitary and unseen you

  that existed from your first breath and which Ois thesumofyour

  actions and so is constantly in a state of becoming under your

  own volition--and knowing these things, you can even survive

  the catastrophe of Success!

  It is never altogether too late, unless you embrace the Bitch

  Goddess, as William James called her, with both arms and find

  in her smothering caresses exactly what the homesick little boy

  in you always wanted, absolute protection and utter effortlessness.

  Security is a kind of death, I think, and it can come to

  you in a storm of royalty checks beside a kidney-shaped pool

  in Beverly Hills or anywhere at all that is removed from the

  conditions that made yon an artist, if that's what you are or

  were or intended to be. Ask anyone who has experienced the

  kind of success I am talking about--What good is it? Perhaps

  to get an honest answer you will have to give him a shot of

  truth-serum but the word he will finally groan is unprintable

  in genteel publications.

  Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs,

  plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction,

  that first made the experience of living something that must be

  translated into pigment or music or bodily movement or poetry

  or prose or anything that's dynamic and expressive--that's

  what's good for you if you're at all serious in your aims. William

  Saroyan wrote a great play on this theme, that purity of

  heart is the one success worth having. "In the time of your life

  --livel" That time is short and it doesn't return again. It is

  slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the

  monosyllable of the clock is Loss, Loss, Loss, unless you devote

  your heart to its opposition.

  A Streetcar Named Desire was presented at the Barrymore

  Theatre in New York on December 3,1947, by Irene Seiznick.

  It was directed by Elia Kazan, with the following cast:

  Negro Woman

  Eunice HubbeD

  Stanley Kowalski

  Stella Kowalsld

  Steve Hubbefl

  Harold MiteheU (Mitch)

  Mexican Woman

  Blanche DuBois

  Pablo Gonzales

  A Young Collector

  Nurse

  Doctor

  Gee Gee James

  PegHiUias

  Marion Brando

  Kim Hunter

  Rudy Bond

  Karl Maiden

  Edna Thomas

  Jessica Tandy

  Nick Dennis

  VitoChristi

  AnnDere

  Richard Garrick

  Scenery and lighting by Jo Mielziner, costumes by Ludnda

  Ballard. The action of the play takes place in the spring,

  summer, and early fall in New Orleans. It was performed

  with intermissions after Scene Four and Scene Six.

  Assistant to the producer

  Musical Advisor

  frying Schneider

  Lehman Engel

  )cene ONE

  The exterior of a two-story corner building on a street in

  New Orleans which is named Elysian Fields and runs between

  the L & N tracks and the river. The section is poor

  but, unlike corresponding sections in other American cities,

  it has a raffish charm. The houses are mostly white frame,

  weathered grey, with rickety outside stairs and galleries and

  quaintly ornamented gables. This building contains two flats,

  upstairs and down. Faded white stairs ascend to the entrances

  of both.

  It is first dark of an evening early in May. The sky that

  shows around the dim white building Is a peculiarly tender

  blue, almost a turquoise, which invests the scene with a

  kind of lyricism and gracefully attenuates the atmosphere

  of decay. You can almost feel the warm breath of the brawn

  river beyond the river warehouses with their faint redolences

  of bananas and coffee. A corresponding air is evoked by

  the music of Negro entertainers at a barroom around the corner . In this part of New Orleans you are practically always

  just around the corner, or a few doors down the street,

  from a tinny piano being played with the infatuated fluency

  of brown fingers. This "Blue Piano" expresses the spirit of

  the life which goes on here.

  Two women, one white and one colored, are taking the air

  on the steps of the building. The white woman is Eunice,

  who occupies the upstairs flat; the colored woman a neighbor,

  for New Orleans is a cosmopolitan city where there is

  a relatively warm and easy intermingling of races in the old

  part of town.

  Above the music of the "Blue Piano" the voices of people

  on the street can be heard overlapping.

  [Two men come around the corner, Stanley Kowalski and

  Mitch. They are about twenty-eight or thirty years old,

  roughly dressed in blue denim work clothes. Stanley carries

  his bowling jacket and a red-stained, package from a

  butcher's. They stop at the foot of the steps.}

  stanley [bellowing]:

  Hey, there! Stella, Baby!

  [Stella comes out on the first floor landing, a gentle young

  13

  ^^^^^Si^s^Ss^^iS^sii^

  SCENE 0KB

  woman, about twenty-five, and of a background obviously

  quite different from her husband's.] stella [mildly]:

  Don't holler at me like that Hi, Mitcfa. stanley:

  Catcht stella:

  What?

  stanley:

  Meat!

  [Be heaves the package at her. She cries out in protest but

  manages to catch it; then she laughes breathlessly. Her husband

  and his companion have already started back around

  the comer.]

  stella [calling after him]:

  Stanley! Where are you going?

  stanley:

  Bowling!

  stella:

  Can I come watch?

  stanley:

 
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