The Blanche DuBois Syndrome
Last week Nimi and I went to see a show starring Evgenia Dodina, Israel’s celebrated leading lady of theater – my boyfriend and her are playing together in ongoing show, „Simple Story”, and after seeing her powerful performance in „Sipur Pashut” I became very curious of her interpretation of my favorite female characters in the history of theater.
The play – which always fascinated me as a writer, as an actor, and simply as someone on the road of soul searching – has been running in Habima, the National Theater of Israel for several years now, and thanks to the ever current story of Tennessee Williams, the extremely complex characters, and the brave new interpretation it still attracts a packed house moth after month, until it finished it’sever successful run last week.
A Streetcar Named Desire. A story that has been told so many times, so many ways, yet most people don’t really get it. Blanche DuBois, the crazy bitch who’s been sleeping around with random guys, who’s been telling lies to her one sister who actually cares for her, and even to herself. That’s the general idea about the character, but certainly not mine – especially after seeing Evgenia’s performance, which opens up the eyes of many who simply think Blanche is crazy, and that’s the only story she has to tell.
Blanche as a highly sensitive, but completely normal person, who’s only fault was to be born into a society that gloryfies men, and expects women to be dolls with no mind of their own whatsoever. She is an exciting, enchanting, creative, fun and funny person who loves life and enjoys it’s pleasures, if it’s indulging in a warm bath, dating multiple men – otherwise how would she know which one is the right one 😉 -, or fixing a few drinks throughout an average afternoon to elevate the mood. She is sort of a Gone With The Wind’s Scarlet O’Hara kinda girl, except for one thing: Scarlet has been valued and appreciated for being excentric, while Blanche’s path crossed the roads of real simpletons and barbarian fools.
Let’s take her sister, Stella as an example – the woman who’s often painted as „the sober one”, yet she is an abused wife with zero ability to create a better life for herself, which she clearly deserves. She lives with a man who’s rules are based on ancient values about men being the Masters of a home while women have no rights, not even to protect themselves from being mentally and physically tortured. Or let’s talk about Stanley who is clearly an animal, the stereotype of the mindless macho, yet somehow people tend to think this way of behaving still fits in the guidelines of „normality”. However, Blanche is „insane”. But is she, really?
Is it insanity not to be able to deal with the death of both parents and a loved one? I’ll let those be the judge of this matter who actually went through at least similar tragedies. Is it that crazy to date youngsters? Please, men has been doing it for centuries. Is it so uncommon to be a victim of a deeply stupid society, getting lost in translation between actual values and social norms, and mixing up what’s right and wrong? I don’t think so – I’m surrounded by people start to believe there’s something wrong with them just because they are different from the others.
The tragedy of Blanche is that there was no one around her who had big enough balls to say: „Wow I love this crazy flame, I adore her unique sense of humor and self-irony, I want to be around her genuine excitement for everything what’s beautiful and what’s fun in this life because she inspires me to dare to be different. Even her beau, Mitch was a softie – or shall I say a pussy – for making a big deal about how many men Blanche slept with, or – the next issue I have to go on about – how old she is.
The fact that he points out Blanche being older than he expected, yet judges her for saying white lies about her age is nothing but dumb ageism. A destructive matter that our media backs up, even up until now days, and which in the end will make all of us suffer, as most probably we all will get old(er) some day soon.
All in all – sometimes I think I’d rather walk in the shoes of „crazy” Blanche – even if they lead me to the asylum – than passive and incapable Stella, narrow minded and dumb Stanley or „Mr. Nice Guy” Mitch who’s letting love get away in exchange of being accepted by society. I’m convinced that after the curtains go down and the audience goes home, Blanche has a happier life in the mad house than her sister in a violent relationship in a home led by rules of so called sanity.
And other times I’m thinking if only Blanche was born to today’s liberal and lunatic Tel Aviv, she could be the queen of nightlife and social events, as now days, right here no one expects anyone to „be normal”, you can be whoever you want to be as long as you are accepting and fair towards others. This was my lesson after watching the show, and I am so happy I could catch one of the last performances.
Every time we decide not to wear an outfit because „what will others think”, every time we don’t open our mouth to speak when we face injustice, and every time we start to doubt our ability to survive, we get closer and closer to sending our inner Blanche to the madhouse, instead of letting her out so she can breath. Crazy is the one who pushes values on another person, and not the one who’s pleasures and well being depends on the permission of another. That’s simply called „sensitive to bullshit”, and we all must remember not to let idiots give us a social disease.
Thanks for the reminder to Genia, and thank you for the character of Blanche DuBois, played by so many incredible actors throughout history – worth mentioning the most famous film interpretation by the legendary Vivien Leigh. I as well always depended on the kindness, and mostly the guidance of strangers. And now you are not even a stranger any longer. You are very familiar, actually.
New story on the blog next week. Up until then follow me on Instagram.