A Streetcar Named Desire
Navigate to resources by choosing units within one of the unit groups shown below.
Delivery guides are designed to represent a body of knowledge about teaching a particular topic and contain:
- Content: A clear outline of the content covered by the delivery guide;
- Thinking Conceptually: expert guidance on the key concepts involved, common difficulties students may have, approaches to teaching that can help students understand these concepts and how this topic links conceptually to other areas of the subject;
- Thinking Contextually: A range of suggested teaching activities using a variety of themes so that different activities can be selected that best suit particular classes, learning styles or teaching approaches.
Component 02 is entitled The Language of Poetry and Plays. It is assessed by a closed text, two hour written examination which represents 32% of the qualification. The first section deals with poetry, the second with drama. Learners divide their time equally between the two sections.
The drama question asks learners to analyse the use and impact of dramatic and stylistic techniques, demonstrating how meaning and effects are created in the play they have studied. They are given a short extract from the play which is printed in the exam paper. Learners must draw on their knowledge of dramatic and stylistic techniques to show knowledge and understanding of the ways in which the playwright presents a theme, idea, character or other aspect of the drama in the extract.
Learners are expected to:
- Show knowledge and understanding of the play they have studied.
- Use linguistic and stylistic approaches and an understanding of dramatic techniques to develop an analysis of the text.
- Apply relevant methods for text analysis, drawing on linguistic and literary approaches.
- Explore contexts and connections between the scene and the play as a whole, as well as literary and generic contexts.
Tackling the question will involve:
- Exploration of dramatic effect, most significantly the structure of dramatic dialogue but also on-stage and off-stage action, paralinguistic features (gesture, manner of speech, facial expression), soliloquy, asides, dramatic irony.
- Analysis of the structure of the play (opening and closure, use of repetition, pattern making and breaking, parallel and contrasting characters and action, cause and effect narrative vs episodic structure).
- Identification and description of the ways in which meanings and effects are conveyed through language; very probably drawing on learners’ knowledge of linguistic, literary and stylistic approaches but also adding or developing material on spoken language.
- Consideration of the significance of relevant dramatic or other contexts.
Teaching A Streetcar Named Desire
One of Streetcar’s great advantages as a text to teach is its episodic structure – the eleven scenes are roughly the same length and each can be taught in a standard lesson. It might take two lessons to set things up and cover some context and the first scene; another ten or so to explore the rest of the play; and then three or four more to do some round-up activities. Overall, teachers might spend about 21–25 teaching hours on the play.
The 1951 film version of the play starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh is easily available and a must for teaching. It sticks pretty closely to the text and is a fascinating reading of it. There are a couple of variations (notably at the end) which would provoke interesting discussion.
It is likely that the drama text will be one of the last components of the A Level course to be studied so learners will come to A Streetcar Named Desire with a confident working knowledge of the analysis of lexico-grammatical features, semantics and pragmatics, denotation and connotation, discourse and genre from their study of the non-fiction anthology, the poetry and the novel. They will also be aware from the transcripts in the non-fiction anthology of some of the features of spoken language and its differences from the written. However, it may be a good idea to begin their study of A Streetcar Named Desire with an activity that contrasts the differences between spoken language and dramatic dialogue.
Teaching could start with this observation from Mick Short:
“If dramatic dialogue is both like and unlike ordinary conversation, it is important for us to see where the similarities and dissimilarities lie. We can only apply conversational analysis to drama in relation to those areas where conversation and plays are similar.” Mick Short, Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose (London: Longman, 1995, p.174).
Get the group to discuss in pairs what they think the similarities and differences may be. Give as a stimulus a short transcript and a different example of dramatic dialogue to each pairing (e.g. extracts from Shakespeare, EastEnders, Murder in the Cathedral, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Caretaker, Top Girls all work well). Learners may come up with some of the following things which Mick Short identifies in chapter 6 of Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose (indispensable reading for material of this kind).
Short argues that dramatic dialogue is like conversation because:
- Both feature turn-taking
- Speech acts in both are context dependent
- We use schemas to make sense of conversations in drama and real life
- Dramatic characters often say one thing and mean another and this is true of life as well.
Short argues that dramatic dialogue is not like conversation because:
- Dramatic dialogue is written to be spoken whereas casual conversation is unprepared and unrehearsed.
- Drama has a ‘double-discourse’ structure: the overarching level of discourse is that between the playwright and the audience. Talk between characters is embedded in that higher discourse, allowing the audience to ‘listen in’ to what the characters say.
- Non-fluency features do not occur in dramatic or fictional dialogue (even though it is written to be spoken). If features from normal non-fluency do occur they are perceived by readers and audience as having a meaningful function precisely because they know that the dramatist must have included them on purpose.
- In well-constructed dramatic dialogue everything is meant by the playwright, even when it is apparently unintended by the character. The more realistic the dialogue, the more it should seem to be ‘unaimed’: unrelated to some obvious strategic or thematic purpose of the author’s design.
- Back-channel behaviour does not occur as frequently in scripted speech as it does in real life.
Short proposes a scale of realism for dramatic texts and suggests consideration of the following questions when discussing how realistic a text is:
1) Is the lexis formal or informal?
2) How complex is the grammatical structure of sentences? Is the dominant syntactic pattern for complex sentences anticipatory or trailing?
3) To what extent are there graphological contractions (e.g. I’ll, you’d)?
4) What features associated with normal non-fluency are present? How are they to be interpreted in context?
Once the first few scenes of A Streetcar Named Desire have been covered, returning to Short’s scale of realism may be an interesting activity as different scenes offer different degrees of conversational realism.
It is also a good idea to get learners thinking about the ways in which studying a drama text is different to studying prose fiction and poetry. There is an excellent activity exploring this in the English and Media Centre’s book to accompany this course.
I: Genre – A Streetcar Named Desire and tragedy
Thinking about Streetcar as a tragedy is a very useful way into the play. Although it’s important to steer learners away from an unthinking checklist approach to tragedy, the play lends itself to analysis from both traditional Aristotelian and more political, materialist perspectives.
Teachers could use this model, drawn from Aristotle’s Poetics, as a starting point but one that learners should be encouraged to interrogate.
Characteristics of a tragedy:
- A tragic hero – a term treated with suspicion by some critics who prefer the more neutral ‘protagonist’.
- The protagonist is basically good.
- The protagonist is usually high-born or someone of significance in society (‘one who is highly renowned and prosperous’, says Aristotle) so that their actions have consequences for the community and not simply for themself.
- A plot built around a downturn in the protagonist’s fortunes often triggered by a tragic flaw or error of judgement on the protagonist’s part.
- A progression from order to disorder, harmony to chaos.
- The action of a tragedy seems to unfold with a horrible inevitability.
- Unhappy endings – the tragic catastrophe.
- An antagonist, a figure who stands out against the protagonist.
- The protagonist often has some moment of self-knowledge near the end of the play.
- The audience feel sorrow and pity at the end of a tragedy but leave the theatre morally enlightened and ennobled by their vicarious experience of tragic suffering.
This very simplified model begs some important questions:
Is it necessary to be rich and powerful in order to be a tragic protagonist? As Williams’ great contemporary Arthur Miller puts it, ‘It matters not at all whether a modern play concerns itself with a grocer or a president if the intensity of the hero’s commitment to his course is less than the maximum possible.’ (‘Introduction’ to Plays I, London: Methuen, 1988, p.33)
Is the catastrophe inevitable? Could matters have been different? Raymond Williams writes, ‘We have to see not only that suffering is avoidable, but that it is not avoided. And not only that suffering breaks us but that it need not break us.’ (Modern Tragedy  Stanford: Stanford UP, 1966, pp.202–3)
Is the tragedy the result of individual failing (the tragic flaw) or a mistake, or might wider social forces and conflicts be to blame? Adrian Poole argues that tragic playwrights ‘stage the points of convergence at which light and darkness meet, the sacred and secular, divine power and human reason. The ages that produced their drama were not characterized by stable coherent belief. It was precisely the conflicts to which they gave expression, between old religion and new politics, between traditional faith and modern rationalism, between the sacred and the secular.’ (Tragedy: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: OUP, 2005, p.29)
Does the protagonist have to be morally good? Aristotle himself is ambivalent on this: ‘It follows plainly, in the first place, that the change of fortune presented must not be the spectacle of a virtuous man brought from prosperity to adversity: for this moves neither pity nor fear; it merely shocks us. Nor, again, that of a bad man passing from adversity to prosperity: for nothing can be more alien to the spirit of Tragedy; it possesses no single tragic quality; it neither satisfies the moral sense nor calls forth pity or fear.’
Do we feel better/enlightened/uplifted after watching a tragedy? Terry Eagleton takes issue with the idea that, as he puts it, ‘tragic suffering is ennobling rather than appalling’: ‘In this perverse vision, real-life calamities – an air crash, a famine, an outbreak of genocide – do not count as tragic, since they leave us despondent rather than delighted. Aeschylus is tragic, but Auschwitz is not. […] Besides, in this view tragedy is a thoroughly virile affair, a matter of heroes, warriors and a very masculine nobility of spirit. It does not chime with the sensibility of a secular, sceptical, democratic age.’ (Foreword to third edition of Jonathan Dollimore’s Radical Tragedy, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2004, p.x)
Does tragedy ever give us hope for the future or does it portray life as meaningless and chaotic? ‘Some critics find the experience of watching the end of a tragedy to be a gloomy confirmation of human powerlessness,’ writes Sean McEvoy, ‘others see there a pointer to a more just world which is perhaps the product of, but separate from the conflicting forces which have just destroyed the protagonist. There is death, waste and destruction at the end of a tragedy, but there is always some hope.’ (Shakespeare:The Basics, London: Routledge, 2000, p.185)
Two other viewpoints relevant to Streetcar:
‘Tragedy always deals with toxic matter bequeathed by the past to the present. In personal terms, this often means what fathers and mothers have passed on to their children in the form of duties, loyalties, passions and injuries.’
Adrian Poole, Tragedy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2005, p.35)
‘Tragedy is the art form created to confront the most difficult experiences we face: death, loss, injustice, thwarted passion, despair.’
Jennifer Wallace, The Cambridge Introduction to Tragedy (Cambridge: CUP, 2007, p.1)
II: A Streetcar Named Desire and ideas of the American South
‘I write out of love for the South,’ wrote Williams, ‘But I can’t expect Southerners to realise that my writing about them is an expression of love. It is out of regret for a South that no longer exists that I write of the forces that destroyed it.’ (quoted by his mother in Edwina Dakin Williams and Lucy Freeman, Remember Me to Tom (New York: Putnam, 1963).
Ideas of the South are very important to Streetcar; here are some things the learners should know:
The prosperous economy of the southern states, founded on cotton plantations worked by Negro slaves, was ruined after defeat in the American Civil War (1861–65) which killed millions and almost broke a nation, leaving deep scars and the guilt and trauma of slavery. The South’s recovery was further held back by inadequate educational provision, poverty, racial conflict and what Rod Horton and Herbert Edwards call ‘a paralyzing obsession with the largely imaginary glories of the past’.
The southern states have a very distinct regional identity. Southerners are supposed to have a particularly romantic temperament; according to this archetype, their key characteristics include:
- Sensitivity to criticism
- A highly developed code of personal honour
- Pride in race and the family
- A chivalric attitude to women
- Formal patterns of behaviour
- A fondness for rhetoric
- A lack of intellectual stature
- A romantic and nostalgic conservatism.
A character in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom (1936) tells a Northerner, ‘You cant [sic] understand the South. You would have to be born there.’ It would be helpful, perhaps after the play has been taught, to see how many of these bullet points inform the play and especially Williams’ characterisation of Blanche.
[References: Malcolm Bradbury (ed.), The Atlas of Literature (London and New York: De Agostini, 1996, pp.122–126); Rod W. Horton and Herbert W. Edwards, Backgrounds of American Literary Thought, third edition (Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1974, p.374)]
III: Production background
• A Streetcar Named Desire was first produced in America on Broadway in 1947, directed by Elia Kazan, and in Great Britain in 1949 in a production directed by Laurence Olivier.
• The Broadway production ran for two years and 855 performances and won Williams the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play award and the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1948.
• Streetcar, according to Thomas Powers, ‘was the play that set Williams apart for life. Few lines outside of Shakespeare are as widely recognised as Blanche’s final words – “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Blanche and Stanley are among the great characters of American literature.’
• Other key plays by Williams include The Glass Menagerie (1944), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959) and Night of the Iguana (1961).
• Other key American plays of this period include: Arthur Miller’s All My Sons (1947) and Death of a Salesman (1949), and Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (1946).
• A Streetcar Named Desire has been filmed twice: the 1951 adaptation was directed by Elia Kazan and starred Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden. A further version made for American television was screened in 1984 and starred Ann-Margret and Treat Williams.
• The play has been frequently revived since with Glenn Close, Jessica Lange, Natasha Richardson, Rachel Weisz, and Gillian Anderson all playing the role of Blanche.
• Compared to other ‘serious’ plays from that period in the American theatre, it has an astonishingly wide cultural influence and provides the basis for one of the greatest episodes of The Simpsons, ‘A Streetcar Called Marge’.
[Source: Thomas Powers, ‘One Great Good True Thing’, London Review of Books, Vol. 36, No. 22, 20 November 2014, pp.13–15]
IV: Theatrical styles
One of the most interesting aspects of Streetcar is its combination of realist and expressionist features.
As a round-up activity, learners could identify which features they find in Streetcar. Use the following lists of features of these theatrical styles.
|Characters are believable, everyday types; actors wear costumes and make-up appropriate to the character played. Often the protagonist will rise up and assert themself against injustice of some kind.||Characters are mostly nameless and impersonal; they represent some general class or attitude; their characteristics are emphasized by costumes, masks or make-up.|
|Stage settings and props are often indoors and believable. A ‘box set’ is normally used, consisting of three walls and an invisible ‘fourth wall’ facing the audience.||Setting avoids reproducing the detail of realist drama, preferring starkly simplified images called for by the play. Sets could also be virtually abstract and unlocalised, often appearing angular and distorted as in a bad dream. Props are few and symbolic.|
|Acting style is realistic (following Stanislavski’s ‘method’).||Acting style departs from realism, producing aspects of human behaviour in the broadest of strokes. Acting could be intense and violent and express tormented emotions. Speech is rapid, breathless and staccato with gesture and movement urgent and energetic.|
|Dialogue is not heightened for effect, but is that of everyday speech (vernacular).||Dialogue moves away from everyday conversation and is poetical, febrile, rhapsodic, often clipped and fragmented.|
|Action is linear, based on cause and effect, and is psychologically driven and plausible.||Action is episodic; these episodes may represent stages of the protagonist’s life or a sequence of visions as seen through their subconscious mind as in a dream play.|
|Audience can identify with the everyday situations and characters on stage; lighting complements time and situation.||Atmosphere is often vivid, dream-like and nightmarish, aided by unrealistic lighting and visual distortions in set.|
|The whole effect is of transparency; nothing draws attention to the act of making theatre.||Self-conscious; the separate elements of the production are obvious and undisguised.|
Material in this grid draws largely on the following websites:
The Drama Teacher - Expressionism In The Theatre
The Drama Teacher - Realism and Naturalism Theatre Conventions
V: Narrative context
|C17-C19||DuBois family established at Belle Reve, Laurel, Mississippi (Blanche tells Stanley, ‘There are thousands of papers, stretching back over hundreds of years, affecting Belle Reve.’). Thanks to the ‘epic fornications’ of Blanche and Stella’s ‘improvident grandfathers and fathers and uncles and brothers’, everything is lost.|
|1917||September, Blanche born (she is 30 as the play begins).|
|1933||Blanche elopes with and marries Allan Gray; he commits suicide.|
|1937||Stella leaves Belle Reve for New Orleans. Stella and Blanche’s father dies.|
|Late 30s/early 40s||Blanche left to care for everything. Mother, Margaret, and Cousin Jessie die.
Blanche teaches English at Laurel High School.
All that’s left of the estate is the house, 20 acres of ground and the graveyard.
Stella marries Stanley (he’s still in uniform at the time).
|1946||Christmas Eve, Blanche meets Shep Huntleigh in Miami (assuming this isn’t a figment of Blanche’s imagination).|
|1947||Spring term, Blanche is fired from her job after an affair with one of her students; Belle Reve is finally lost; Blanche moves to the Hotel Flamingo.
End of April, Blanche is asked to leave the Hotel Flamingo.
Early May, Blanche arrives in New Orleans.
Find some pictures of Streetcar sets (just type ‘A Streetcar Named Desire set design’ into the image search of a well known search engine; the set for the recent Young Vic production is especially interesting). Have these displayed.
Read out the opening stage direction and the first few lines of dialogue up to and including the Negro woman’s third line. Ask the learners to:
- identify the significance of the things Williams describes; what sort of play might this be?
- suggest some problems the stage direction might pose for designers and directors.
Learners might come up with some of the following:
- The name Elysian Fields is interesting; Elysian to do with heaven/paradise especially in classical culture, fields connoting pastoral. Irony therefore as the name is at odds with the down-at-heel, modern American urban setting.
- The neighbourhood is poor but not unappealing – ‘raffish charm’.
- The ‘white frame’ houses point back to a French colonial past.
- Several of the details might reflect the way Williams is to characterise Blanche: ‘quaintly ornamented’, ‘a kind of lyricism [which] gracefully attenuates the atmosphere of decay’.
- A sense of the in-between – it’s early May and we’re in ‘the first dark of an evening’.
- How does a designer render the ‘faint redolences of bananas and coffee’? Note the appeal to the senses: sights, sounds, smells, touch.
- The idea of life expressed through Afro-American culture, especially the music (the ‘blue piano’ becomes a key motif through the play) – is this at odds with the ‘atmosphere of decay’?
- The play begins in medias res (in the middle of things).
- The negro woman’s first line is probably a dirty joke which builds on the idea of sexuality as key theme, also developed by the sailor’s date. The open references to sex and alcohol (the ‘Blue Moon’ cocktail) add to both the ‘raffishness’ Williams specifies in the stage direction and ‘the spirit of life which goes on here’.
- Slight hint that the Four Deuces may be a brothel; certainly you might be expected to get ripped off there (‘that clip joint’).
- The vendor’s cry ‘Red hot!’ suggests ideas of desire and hell fire, so both a complement to and an opposite of the spirit of life.
When beginning to teach the play, give learners the following ten questions and allocate to each learner one of the four central characters – Blanche, Stanley, Stella and Mitch.
1) How is your character introduced into the play?
2) What clues do the stage directions give about costume and physical appearance?
3) What does your character do? How does she or he behave? Are his or her actions consistent?
4) What do other characters say about him/her?
5) What is your character’s position/state of mind at the start of the play?
6) In what ways does your character change during the drama?
7) How does your character end up?
8) How does your character use language?
9) What key themes and ideas are developed through your character?
10) What things are associated with your character? E.g. the blue piano and Stanley.
Get learners to answer these questions as you work through the play, updating answers where necessary. This could work well as an out-of-class activity and, if done electronically, results could be shared through the teacher’s VLE so everyone has a ‘map’ of the major characters.
A Streetcar Named Desire is structured around the interaction of the four key characters – Blanche, Stanley, Stella and Mitch; however, the minor characters have great significance too, and Williams’s use of two unseen characters from Blanche’s past (her dead husband and, assuming he actually exists, Shep Huntleigh) is also important to the play’s narrative and themes.
Get learners into pairs or small groups and allocate them one of the following characters or groups of characters:
- Pablo and Steve
- Shep Huntleigh
- Allan Grey
- The Evening Star boy
- The doctor and matron
- The Negro woman, the Mexican woman and the tamale vendor
with the following prompts:
- In which parts of the play do your character or characters appear? If you’re dealing with unseen characters, when are they mentioned?
- What light do they shed on the central characters?
- In what ways do they further the plot?
- Which themes do they help to develop?
Give learners the list of 20 features of spoken language in Learner resource 1.
Working in pairs, learners should decide which are features of Stanley’s language and which of Blanche’s; several (unmitigated face threatening acts, irony, racist epithets, for example) are common to both. Then, get them to find examples of each feature, or select a section of an exchange between Stanley and Blanche which they consider an especially good illustration of the characters’ modes of speech, exploring how Williams uses these elements of dramatic dialogue to develop characterisation.
Choose some of Blanche’s longer speeches:
Scene One: (I, I, I took the blows … In bed with your – Polack!)
Scene Four (He acts like an animal … don’t hang back with the brutes.)
Scene Five (I never was hard or self-sufficient enough … And I – I’m fading now.)
Scene Six (He was a boy … stronger than this – kitchen – candle …)
Scene Ten (It won’t be the sort of thing … And let there be no hard feelings.)
Supply learners with the following list of rhetorical devices (if preferred, omitting the complicated Greek words) and ask learners to identify as many devices as they can, commenting on what each tells us about Blanche.
- A sudden outcry (ecphonesis)
- Construction of a climax (a linked series A-B, B-C, C-D )
- Verbal scene-painting (pragmatographia).
This exercise might lead to a discussion of realism (Do people actually talk like this? Is the highly rhetorical nature of Blanche’s language an example of the tension in the play’s style between realism and expressionism?). It reminds us of Blanche’s pronounced tendency to self-dramatisation, her literary education, her artifice. Blanche may claim to disdain ‘evasions and ambiguities’ but they are fundamental to the construction of her persona and her highly artificial manner of speech is a crucial part of this.
Brown and Levinson’s concept of the face threatening act is incredibly useful to the close analysis of a play like Streetcar in which antagonism between characters is such a significant part of the narrative. The clearest explanation of their idea is found in Mick Short’s Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose (pp.113–114), on which the following summary is based:
Brown and Levinson (1978, 1987) developed a framework around the concept of face, which they define as ‘your public self-image’. Face is built around two components:
- Positive face: the need for our actions and wants to be desirable to other people as well as ourselves (e.g. being told ‘well done’).
- Negative face: the wish that our actions should be unimpeded by others; e.g. our negative face is threatened when someone interrupts us because it impedes our desire to speak.
Politeness involves speakers showing an awareness of others’ face needs. When actions or speech acts threaten someone’s face, we denote these as face threatening acts (FTAs). It is virtually impossible to avoid FTAs so speakers minimise or mitigate the amount of threat by the way they say or do things. When visiting someone, people open the door gently not abruptly; they ask rather than order someone to do the washing up. Asking gives the interlocutor the option of saying ‘no’ without social disruption, but ordering makes saying ‘no’ much more difficult.
For example, the phrase, ‘I know you’re really pushed for time, but could you help me with my homework, please?’, mitigates the FTA by a) taking account of the other person’s face needs in the first clause, b) apparently asking a question about his or her ability to offer help, and c) adding the politeness marker ‘please’.
Similarly, if trying to mitigate the threat to someone’s positive face, a speaker might need to take a more indirect tack (similar to Leech’s approbation maxim). When marking, a teacher might write, ‘There was a complete lack of detail in your essay’, which obviously threatens the essay-writer’s positive face. This could be mitigated by writing, ‘Perhaps interesting ideas might have been improved by a more detailed use of quotation.’
In Streetcar, the different ways the characters threaten each other’s positive and negative faces and the degree to which they try to mitigate their FTAs reveal a lot about Williams’ characterisation and the attitudes and values of the play. Stanley, ‘simple, straightforward and honest’, tends to be direct and rarely bothers with mitigation; Stella, an altogether more emollient character, takes great care of the face needs of others; Blanche can be just as direct and tactless as Stanley but, remembering the formalities of her aristocratic upbringing, is at other times much more polite and mitigates her FTAs with greater sensitivity.
The grid in Learner resource 2 could work as a classroom exercise exploring these ideas.
This activity is designed to get learners focusing on the exam question and the need to analyse the dramatic effect of features of spoken language and literary devices they identify. The grid in Learner resource 3 could be given to learners in several ways: a) with the first column left blank so they have to identify key quotations; b) with the second column left blank so they have to identify features of language and literary devices; or c) with the third column left blank so they have to think about the dramatic effect; or d) a combination of all three (which is probably the best method).
A similar grid could be used for other scenes or learners could be given blank grids and asked to choose an extract and then fill in each box.
This exercise assumes familiarity with Grice’s maxims and his notion of conversational implicature; Leech’s maxims of politeness or Lakoff’s politeness principle; and Howard Giles’ theory of accommodation. Anything with which learners are unfamiliar can be deleted or the scene can be used to teach these theoretical ideas.
Learner resource 4 cites extracts from reviews of two major recent productions of the play.
Learners should work in groups on the quotations, deciding whether or not they agree with the views expressed or with the staging choices described (for example, updating to the present day in the case of the Young Vic production, physicalising Blanche’s dead husband in the Donmar production) and finding evidence from the play to support their opinions.
Learners should be given the five questions in Learner resource 5.
Learners should work in groups with the following prompts:
- Narrative context
- What does this extract tell you about the specified theme?
- Dialogue/features of spoken language/features of literary language/politeness
- Other aspects of theatrical meaning-making: lighting, sound, proxemics, costume.
Teacher resource 1 contains a commentary on the extract specified in question 5.
OCR’s resources are provided to support the teaching of OCR specifications, but in no way constitute an endorsed teaching method that is required by the Board and the decision to use them lies with the individual teacher. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the content, OCR cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions within these resources. We update our resources on a regular basis, so please check the OCR website to ensure you have the most up to date version.
© OCR 2015 - This resource may be freely copied and distributed, as long as the OCR logo and this message remain intact and OCR is acknowledged as the originator of this work.