Marianna Venekei / Tennessee Williams / László Dés


contemporary ballet 18

In Brief

Dance-drama in two acts

Ballet version of the play of the same title by Tennessee Williams

Presented by special arrangement with The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire: Copyright © 1947, 1953 renewed 1975, 1981 The University of the South.

Performance length: , with 1 intermission.
A Streetcar Named Desire is Marianna Venekei's first full-length choreography. The project, lovingly nurtured for many years, is a collaboration between her and composer-saxophonist László Dés. Using the means of modern ballet, its creators evoke the atmosphere, sights and music of the New Orleans of the 1940s, the time and setting of Tennessee Williams's original work, in a production driven by the sheer variety of the musical and dance motifs, and the unique personalities of the characters. The story of the fall of Blanche DuBois is a drama of family bonds, unrequited love, acceptance and physical force that never loses its relevance.

The permission of the copyright-holder was obtained through the intermediation of Hofra Kft. (
“A world première and Venekei's first full-length work for the Hungarian National Ballet, this close adaptation of William’s 1947 work, is a pearl not to be missed.”  (Katja Vaghi, Bachtrack)


Act I
As a nursery tune softly plays, two little girls play on the empty stage.
The vision-like image is broken by a figure emerging from the darkness: It is Blanche, looking uncertain as she arrives in the vibrantly bustling – and steamy – city of New Orleans with a suitcase in her hand. As she reaches her sister's building, the noise from the street subsides.
Stella's flat. Blanche waits alone for a little while – taking the occasional drink to settle her nerves – before the two sisters meet for the first time in many years: they regard each other happily, examining how much the other has changed. Blanche is unable to conceal her disdain for the shabbiness of Stella's home. Stella reassures her sister; the pas de deux danced by the two women embodies their sisterly bond, and also brings the past to life around them: their home, a house named Belle Reve, and all of its horrors. The deceased family members who – nursed through their long suffering by Blanche alone – left no bequest behind – even the house had to be auctioned off. Overcome with feelings of guilt, Stella eventually flees from the terrible scene. Blanche remains alone.
Stella's husband, Stanley, approaches in the cheerful company of two friends. Arriving home, he finds Blanche in his house: two great characters have met...
The days pass with the two avoiding each other in the narrow confines of the flat and the tension between Stanley and his sister-in-law growing ever greater. Blanche's long baths to “soothe her nerves” aggravate him, as does the constant smell of her perfume in his home, and her fine and expensive clothes too. In one taut moment he can stand it no longer and tears through Blanche's suitcase, rummaging through the furs and tiaras to find the papers that will establish at last what happened to the inheritance due from the sale of Belle Reve. It turns out that not a single penny was left from the house. Stanley informs Blanche that Stella is going to have a baby; Blanche greets the news with exaggerated joy, and the two sisters go out to have fun.
Stanley's friends come over to play poker. The game is still going when the women come home. To Stanley's displeasure, one of the men, Mitch, takes note of the attractive Blanche. Blanche turns on the radio, and the women get into a pillow fight in the next room. Deciding he's had enough of the uproar, Stanley storms into the other room and smashes the radio. He starts menacingly toward Blanche, and when Stella blocks his path, he delivers his wife a tremendous slap on the face. As the other men restrain the raging Stanley, the two women flee to the protection of their upstairs neighbour. After Stanley calms down, he calls out despairingly for his wife, who eventually returns home to him. From above, Blanche watches them embrace lovingly.
Memories return to the lonesome woman in a flood: she thinks of her own late husband, Allan. One evening at a ball, she discovered that he was in love with another man. He killed himself later that same night. Blanche gradually returns to reality, and Stella also awakes from the sleep that followed the night of passion. Blanche tries as hard as she can to convince her sister to leave Stanley, but Stella won't hear of it. After secretly observing the two women for a while, Stanley emerges. Stella thinks for a moment and chooses her husband, leaving Blanche alone with her impotent rage.

Act II
It's raining. Blanche nervously gets herself ready to go out. Mitch appears with a bouquet of flowers, kissing her awkwardly before the two leave together for a night spot. They, they start dancing light-heartedly, but Blanche suddenly thinks she sees her dead husband and his lover amidst the swirling crowd as she relives that horrible night at the ball when Allan shot himself in the head. Gradually, however, the dance music dies down, leaving Mitch and Blanche alone on the dance floor. Bidding farewell at last, Blanche departs.
Stanley appears suddenly and angrily tells Mitch what he has just learned about Blanche: back in the town of Laurel, she had prostituted herself to soldiers. It also emerges that when Blanche was a teacher, she had seduced one of her pupils. Astonished by what he's heard and overcome by despair, Mitch attempts to argue with the imperious Stanley, and then rushes off in anguish. Stanley returns home to find Stella getting ready for her sister's birthday party, which throws him into yet another rage. He doesn't think that this loose woman deserves any kind of celebration. Suddenly Blanche arrives. An awkward silence falls as they sit at the table.
The fourth chair – Mitch's – is empty. Since it's Blanche's birthday, Stanley asks her for a dance, which she accepts gladly. Later during the party, however, Stanley grabs Blanche's suitcase and tosses it out of the flat. Stella is upset at her husband's conduct, but Stanley just treats her rudely too. Stella starts to feel ill. Her husband grabs her and races her to the hospital.
Mitch arrives and angrily demands for Blanche to tell the truth about her past. Uncomprehendingly, Blanche attempts to defend herself against the increasingly violent man until finally managing to scare him off.
Blanche takes some medicine and starts drinking. After she puts on her old evening gown, the deceased Allan appears to her and places a tiara on his wife's forehead. One by one, a procession of men dance with Blanche, who is increasingly losing touch with reality. Stanley returns home: the two of them eye each other with just as much hostility as during their first meeting. Stanley's behaviour toward Blanche is increasingly vulgar and menacing. When she tries to flee, he blocks her path. Finally, after turning the flat upside down chasing after her, he wrestles her to the ground and rapes her repeatedly.
Blanche lies motionless on the floor. Finally, she drags herself to her feet and escapes to the bathtub. Madness is already evident in her eyes. Characters from the past and present perform a mighty dance macabre. The dance of death gradually abates, leaving Blanche curled up in the tub.


"A world première and Venekei's first full-length work for the Hungarian National Ballet, this close adaptation of William’s 1947 work, is a pearl not to be missed.”

Katja Vaghi, Bachtrack