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Genderqueer Blanche DuBois Makes History in “A Streetcar Named Desire”
Mx. Russell Peck plays the iconic Tennessee Williams character
By Brandon Voss
“I don’t want realism. I want magic!”
An upcoming New York production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Kevin Hourigan, will feature a genderqueer actor as Blanche DuBois.
Presented by The Coven & Precariat Productions, in association with Wolfpack Theatrics, the Brooklyn staging stars Mx. Russell Peck as Williams’ most famous tragic heroine.
The producers were granted official licensing rights explicitly allowing Peck to play Blanche, marking the first professional U.S. production of the classic 1947 drama in which a genderqueer/trans actor has been given permission to play the iconic role.
“Set in the sultry and sweltering 1940s French Quarter of New Orleans, this immersive production invites audiences into the Kowalski apartment where young couple Stanley and Stella are joined for the summer by Stella’s damaged, fading debutante sister, Blanche,” the press notes read. “In a play that famously pins the working class, alpha male Stanley Kowalski against the soft, privileged beauty Blanche DuBois, this production speaks to the divided state of the world today.”
Peck has been drawn to Blanche for the past decade, ever since studying the Pulitzer Prize-winning play for their senior thesis at NYU.
“As a genderqueer/trans person, I have always identified very deeply with female characters,” Peck explains. “Blanche is a broken person, she has a painful past and is in a desperate and continual search for love and protection, which feels very queer to me. Blanche is a fighter. She has lost everything and continues to live her truth, even if that isn’t how other people see things.”
“I think one of the reasons that Streetcar is still being done today,” Peck continues, “and the reason it is one of the most important plays in American drama, is that it spoke to issues and problems in the U.S. in the 1940s and, unfortunately, the class and racial divisions that define the characters in the play are still plaguing our country today.”
The cast also includes Julian Alexander, Max Carpenter, David J. Cork, Isabel Ellison, Tony Macht, and Yvonna Pearson.
A Streetcar Named Desire runs May 7–25 at Mister Rogers in Brooklyn.