Monday, June 15th, 2009 - Old Mill Theatre
TO celebrate its 60th anniversary, South Perth’s Old Mill Theatre is presenting the Tennessee Williams classic A Streetcar Named Desire this July.

Tying in with the diamond anniversary, this year also marks 60 years since the first West End production starring Vivien Leigh, who went on to feature in the original film version with Marlon Brando.

Dannielle Ashton said she took on the challenge of directing A Streetcar Named Desire because it has many topical themes and issues that are still relevant today.

“It’s a fantastic piece of theatre with beautiful poetic dialogue that creates some outstanding imagery,” she said.

“Who wouldn’t want to bring such great characters such as Stanley, Blanche and Stella alive on stage?”

Widely considered a landmark play, A Streetcar Named Desire scored the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for drama and dealt with both male and female sexuality for the first time in American theatre.

The story focuses on Blanche DuBois, arriving in New Orleans to stay with her sister and animalistic brother-in-law, where her fantasies of primness and respectability are violently stripped away and exposed.

“Many people are extremely familiar with the play and movie, so it’s likely they will have some pre-conceived ideas about what to expect before seeing our version – but every production of a play delivers its own interpretation of the text,” Ashton said.

“The set will also have a split-level design, which will prove interesting to create, but I’m fortunate to have a great set designer in the shape of Hywel Williams, so I’m feeling very confident.”

Ashton has been involved in theatre for the past 20 years, most recently directing Sleuth at Harbour Theatre, after scoring the 2008 DramaFest Best Overall Production Award for directing The Return and Best Production Award for co-directing A One Night Stand-Off with Martin Lindsay at the 2008 South West Drama Festival.

Her production of The Sum of Us at the Old Mill Theatre earned her a best director nomination at the 2008 Finley Awards and was also named runner-up best play of the year.

“A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the best plays of all time and I’ve got an award-winning cast featuring some extremely experienced actors, so I’m particularly excited about this production,” Ashton said.

Among the strong cast assembled are Jenny McCann as Blanche, Gemma Northover as Stella, Stephen Roberts as Stanley, Chris Thomas as Mitch, Jayma Knudson as Eunice and Clinton Ward as Steve.*

A Streetcar Named Desire plays at 8pm, July 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24 and 25 with a 2pm matinee on July 12 and 19. Tickets are $20 and $15 concession – book on 9367 8719.

The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road, South Perth (opposite the Windsor Hotel).

CAPTION
streetcar.jpeg: Gemma Northover as Stella, Stephen Roberts as Stanley and Jenny McCann as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, the Old Mill Theatre's 60th anniversary production (Picture: Daniela Fego)

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Old Mill Theatre


South Perth's Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to be operating out of one of the most historic buildings in South Perth. It was opened in 1899 as a Mechanics Institute Hall. The South Perth Council purchased the building in 1913 and renamed it the Mends Street Hall. The Council still owns the building, and supports our use of it.

The building first became a home of theatre in 1948, when the South Perth Dramatic Society moved in. The name Old Mill Theatre was first used in 1958, and the company was incorporated in 1959. We are therefore celebrating our official 60th birthday party this year.

A number of significant changes to the building have occurred over the past few years, with major extensions completed in 2002. An understage tunnel, which links our two backstage dressing rooms, and enables easier access from one side of the stage to the other, was completed in 2008. Bathroom facilities have also been installed backstage as part of this project, which is wholly self-funded.

The Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to have strong support from our local council, the City of South Perth. The City undertook major renovations to the exterior of the building in 2008, and the theatre is looking better now than ever before.
Dannielle Ashton
P: 0400 438 695
W: www.oldmilltheatre.com.au

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A Streetcar Named Desire: 60th anniversary production for Old Mill Theatre

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