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- Why do you think, did Tennessee Williams ever write the play?
- Because he has a great sense of poetry and wanted to write about a set of very colourful characters. Don't you agree that the play, despite the conditions described, is full of beauty?
(Vivien Leigh in 1950)
Book by: Tennessee Williams
Directed: Laurence Olivier
Managing Director: Prince Littler
General Manager: Frederick Carter
Licensed by: the Lord Chamberlain to D. A. Abrahams
Wigs: Stanley Hall
Opened: Aldwych Theatre, London, October 11, 1949
Cast: Vivien Leigh (Blance DuBois), Bonar Colleano (Stanley Kowalski), Bernard Braden (Mitch), Renee Asherson (Stella), and other actors
Vivien dressed down for the rehearsals, the better to meet the challenge which playing Blanche represented. Bernard Braden, cast as Mitch, in the play, recall her arriving on the first day of the run-through wearing a simple black jersey dress. Renee Asherson, playing Blanches's sister, remarked (none too tactfully perhaps, given Vivien's abhorrence of such terms): "That's a pretty dress." Vivien took the compliment and replied in sombre tones to match her costume: "I'm glad you like it, because you're going to see a lot of it." *
Vivien Leigh: Blanche is a woman with everything stripped away. She is a tragic figure and I understand her. But playing her tipped me into madness.
Stanley Hall (the London wig-maker): She had crinkly hair, generally not very good hair. She disliked it and it required a lot of attention. But as she was determined this should be a brilliant performance, she did everything she could to help herself got into character and this included bleaching her own hair. I made her a dark wig to wear during the day. A little later, when she came to the film, I made her bleached wigs, because the idea was that Blanche should have ragged-looking hair, like someone who had gone through life neglecting herself. She used to send the wigs back from Hollywood, by air mail, to be cleaned and redressed by me - didn't trust the American hairdressers.
* Vivien: The Life of Vivien Leigh
by Alexander Walker
Copyright 1987 by Conundrum Limited
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