A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

Tennessee Williams

"A Streetcar Named Desire [Scene 1]"

The exterior of a two-story corner building on a street in New Orleans which is named Elysian
Fields and runs between the L & N tracks and the river. The section is poor but, unlike
corresponding sections in other American cities, it has a raffish charm. The houses are mostly
white frame, weathered gray, with rickety outside stairs and galleries and quaintly ornamented
gables. This building contains two flats, upstairs and down. Faded white stairs ascend to the
entrances of both.
It is first dark of an evening early in May. The sky that shows around the dim white building is a
peculiarly tender blue, almost a turquoise, which invests the scene with a kind of lyricism and
gracefully attenuates the atmosphere of decay. You can almost feel the warm breath of the brown
river beyond the river warehouses with their faint redolences of bananas and coffee. A
corresponding air is evoked by the music of Negro entertainers at a barroom around the corner.
In this part of New Orleans you are practically always just around the corner, or a few doors
down the street, from a tinny piano being played with the infatuated fluency of brown fingers.
This "Blue Piano" expresses the spirit of the life which goes on here.
Two women, one white and one colored, are taking the air on the steps of the building. The white
woman is Eunice, who occupies the upstairs flat; the colored woman a neighbor, for New
Orleans is a cosmopolitan city where there is a relatively warm and easy intermingling of races
in the old part of town.
Above the music of the "Blue Piano" the voices of people on the street can be heard overlapping.
[Two men come around the corner, Stanley Kowalski and Mitch. They are about twenty-eight or
thirty years old, roughly dressed in blue denim work clothes. Stanley carries his bowling jacket
and a red-stained package from a butcher's. They stop at the foot of the steps.]
STANLEY [bellowing]:
Hey, there! Stella, Baby!
[Stella comes out on the first floor landing, a gentle young woman, about twenty-five, and of a
background obviously quite different from her husband's.]
STELLA [mildly]:
Don't holler at me like that. Hi, Mitch.
STANLEY:
Catch!
STELLA:
What?
STANLEY:
Meat!
[Be heaves the package at her. She cries out in protest but manages to catch it; then she laughes
breathlessly. Her husband and his companion have already started back around the comer.]
STELLA [calling after him]:
Stanley! Where are you going?
STANLEY:
Bowling!
STELLA:
Can I come watch?
STANLEY:
Come on.
[He goes out.]
STELLA:
Be over soon.
[To the white woman]
Hello, Eunice. How are you?
EUNICE:
I'm all right. Tell Steve to get him a poor boy's sandwich 'cause nothing's left here.
[They all laugh; the colored woman does not stop. Stella goes out.]
COLORED WOMAN:
What was that package he th'ew at 'er?
[She rises from steps, laughing louder.]
EUNICE:
You hush, now!
NEGRO WOMAN:
Catch what!
[She continues to laugh. Blanche comes around the corner, currying a valise. She looks at a slip
of paper, then at the building, then again at the slip and again at the building. Her expression is
one of shocked disbelief. Her appearance is incongruous to this setting. She is daintily dressed in
a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat, looking as
if she were arriving at a summer tea or c*cktail party in the garden district. She is about five
years older than Stella. Her delicate beauty must avoid a strong light. There is something about
her uncertain manner, as well as her white clothes, that suggests a moth.]
EUNICE [finally]:
What's the matter, honey? Are you lost?
BLANCHE [with faintly hysterical humor]:
They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and
ride six blocks and get off at--Elysian Fields!
EUNICE:
That's where you are now.
BLANCHE:
At Elysian Fields?
EUNICE:
This here is Elysian Fields.
BLANCHE:
They mustn't have understood what number I wanted.
EUNICE:
What number you lookin' for?
[Blanche wearily refers to the slip of paper.]
BLANCHE:
Six thirty-two.
EUNICE:
You don't have to look no further.
BLANCHE [uncomprehendingly]:
I'm looking for my sister, Stella DuBois. I mean--Mrs. Stanley Kowalski.
EUNICE:
That's the party.--You just did miss her, though.
BLANCHE:
This--can this be--her home?
EUNICE:
She's got the downstairs here and I got the up.
BLANCHE:
Oh. She's--out?
EUNICE:
You noticed that bowling alley around the corner?
BLANCHE:
I'm--not sure I did.
EUNICE:
Well, that's where she's at, watchin' her husband bowl.
[There is a pause]
You want to leave your suitcase here an' go find her?
BLANCHE:
No.
NEGRO WOMAN:
I'll go tell her you come.
BLANCHE:
Thanks.
NEGRO WOMAN:
You welcome.
[She goes out.]
EUNICE:
She wasn't expecting you?
BLANCHE:
No. No, not tonight.
EUNICE:
Well, why don't you just go in and make yourself at home till they get back.
BLANCHE:
How could I--do that?
EUNICE:
We own this place so I can let you in.
[She gets up and opens the downstairs door. A light goes on behind the blind, turning it light
blue. Blanche slowly follows her into the downstairs flat. The surrounding areas dim out as the
interior is lighted.]
[Two rooms can be seen, not too clearly defined. The one first entered is primarily a kitchen but
contains a folding bed to be used by Blanche. The room beyond this is a bedroom. Off this room
is a narrow door to a bathroom.]
EUNICE [defensively, noticing Blanche's look]:
It's sort of messed up right now but when it's clean it's real sweet.
BLANCHE:
Is it?
EUNICE:
Uh, huh, I think so. So you're Stella's sister?
BLANCHE:
Yes.
[Wanting to get rid of her]
Thanks for letting me in.
EUNICE:
Por nada, as the Mexicans say, por nada! Stella spoke of you.
BLANCHE:
Yes?
EUNICE:
I think she said you taught school.
BLANCHE:
Yes.
EUNICE:
And you're from Mississippi, huh?
BLANCHE:
Yes.
EUNICE:
She showed me a picture of your home-place, the plantation.
BLANCHE:
Belle Reve?
EUNICE:
A great big place with white columns.
BLANCHE:
Yes...
EUNICE:
A place like that must be awful hard to keep up.
BLANCHE:
If you will excuse me. I'm just about to drop.
EUNICE:
Sure, honey. Why don't you set down?
BLANCHE:
What I meant was I'd like to be left alone.
EUNICE:
Aw. I'll make myself scarce, in that case.
BLANCHE:
I didn't mean to be rude, but--
EUNICE:
I'll drop by the bowling alley an' hustle her up.
[She goes out the door.]
[Blanche sits in a chair very stiffly with her shoulders slightly hunched and her legs pressed close
together and her hands tightly clutching her purse as if she were quite cold. After a while the
blind look goes out of her eyes and she begins to look slowly around. A cat screeches. She
catches her breath with a startled gesture. Suddenly she notices something in a half-opened
closet. She springs up and crosses to it, and removes a whiskey bottle. She pours a half tumbler
of whiskey and tosses it down. She carefully replaces the bottle and washes out the tumbler at the
sink. Then she resumes her seat in front of the table.]
BLANCHE [faintly to herself]:
I've got to keep hold of myself!
[Stella comes quickly around the corner of the building and runs to the door of the downstairs
flat.]
STELLA [calling out joyfully]:
Blanche!
[For a moment they stare at each other. Then Blanche springs up and runs to her with a wild cry.]
BLANCHE:
Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star!
[She begins to speak with feverish vivacity as if she feared for either of them to stop and think.
They catch each other in a spasmodic embrace.]
BLANCHE:
Now, then, let me look at you. But don't you look at me, Stella, no, no, no, not till later, not till
I've bathed and rested! And turn that over-light off! Turn that off! I won't be looked at in this
merciless glare!
[Stella laughs and complies]
Come back here now! Oh, my baby! Stella! Stella for Star!
[She embraces her again]
I thought you would never come back to this horrible place! What am I saying? I didn't mean to
say that. I meant to be nice about it and say--Oh, what a convenient location and such--Haa-ha!
Precious lamb! You haven't said a word to me.
STELLA:
You haven't given me a chance to, honey!
[She laughs, but her glance at Blanche is a little anxious.]
BLANCHE:
Well, now you talk. Open your pretty mouth and talk while I look around for some liquor! I
know you must have some liquor on the place! Where could it be, I wonder? Oh, I spy, I spy!
[She rushes to the closet and removes the bottle; she is shaking all over and panting for breath as
she tries to laugh. The bottle nearly slips from her grasp.]
STELLA [noticing]:
Blanche, you sit down and let me pour the drinks. I don't know what we've got to mix with.
Maybe a coke's in the icebox. Look'n see, honey, while I'm--
BLANCHE:
No coke, honey, not with my nerves tonight! Where--where--where is--?
STELLA:
Stanley? Bowling! He loves it. They're having a--found some soda!--tournament...
BLANCHE:
Just water, baby, to chase it! Now don't get worried, your sister hasn't turned into a drunkard,
she's just all shaken up and hot and tired and dirty! You sit down, now, and explain this place to
me! What are you doing in a place like this?
STELLA:
Now, Blanche--
BLANCHE:
Oh, I'm not going to be hypocritical, I'm going to be honestly critical about it! Never, never,
never in my worst dreams could I picture--Only Poe! Only Mr. Edgar Allan Poe!--could do it
justice! Out there I suppose is the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir!
[She laughs.]
STELLA:
No, honey, those are the L & N tracks.
BLANCHE:
No, now seriously, putting joking aside. Why didn't you tell me, why didn't you write me, honey,
why didn't you let me know?
STELLA [carefully, pouring herself a drink]:
Tell you what, Blanche?
BLANCHE:
Why, that you had to live in these conditions!
STELLA:
Aren't you being a little intense about it? It's not that bad at all! New Orleans isn't like other
cities.
BLANCHE:
This has got nothing to do with New Orleans. You might as well say--forgive me, blessed baby!
[She suddenly stops short]
The subject is closed!
STELLA [a little drily]:
Thanks.
[During the pause, Blanche stares at her. She smiles at Blanche.]
BLANCHE [looking down at her glass, which shakes in her hand]:
You're all I've got in the world, and you're not glad to see me!
STELLA [sincerely]:
Why, Blanche, you know that's not true.
BLANCHE:
No?--I'd forgotten how quiet you were.
STELLA:
You never did give me a chance to say much, Blanche. So I just got in the habit of being quiet
around you.
BLANCHE [vaguely]:
A good habit to get into...
[then, abruptly]
You haven't asked me how I happened to get away from the school before the spring term ended.
STELLA:
Well, I thought you'd volunteer that information--if you wanted to tell me.
BLANCHE:
You thought I'd been fired?
STELLA:
No, I--thought you might have--resigned...
BLANCHE:
I was so exhausted by all I'd been through my--nerves broke.
[Nervously tamping cigarette]
I was on the verge of--lunacy, almost! So Mr. Graves--Mr. Graves is the high school
superintendent--he suggested I take a leave of absence. I couldn't put all of those details into the
wire...
[She drinks quickly]
Oh, this buzzes right through me and feels so good!
STELLA:
Won't you have another?
BLANCHE:
No, one's my limit.
STELLA:
Sure?
BLANCHE:
You haven't said a word about my appearance.
STELLA:
You look just fine.
BLANCHE:
God love you for a liar! Daylight never exposed so total a ruin! But you--you've put on some
weight, yes, you're just as plump as a little partridge! And it's so becoming to you!
STELLA:
Now, Blanche--
BLANCHE:
Yes, it is, it is or I wouldn't say it! You just have to watch around the hips a little. Stand up.
STELLA:
Not now.
BLANCHE:
You hear me? I said stand up!
[Stella complies reluctantly]
You messy child, you, you've spilt something on the pretty white lace collar! About your hair--
you ought to have it cut in a feather bob with your dainty features. Stella, you have a maid, don't
you?
STELLA:
No. With only two rooms it's--
BLANCHE:
What? Two rooms, did you say?
STELLA:
This one and--
[She is embarrassed.]
BLANCHE:
The other one?
[She laughs sharply. There is an embarrassed silence.]
BLANCHE:
I am going to take just one little tiny nip more, sort of to put the stopper on, so to speak.... Then
put the bottle away so I won't be tempted.
[She rises]
I want you to look at my figure!
[She turns around]
You know I haven't put on one ounce in ten years, Stella? I weigh what I weighed the summer
you left Belle Reve. The summer Dad died and you left us....
STELLA [a little wearily]:
It's just incredible, Blanche, how well you're looking.
BLANCHE:
[They both laugh uncomfortably]
But, Stella, there's only two rooms, I don't see where you're going to put me!
STELLA:
We're going to put you in here.
BLANCHE:
What kind of bed's this--one of those collapsible things?
[She sits on it.]
STELLA:
Does it feel all right?
BLANCHE [dubiously]:
Wonderful, honey. I don't like a bed that gives much. But there's no door between the two rooms,
and Stanley--will it be decent?
STELLA:
Stanley is Polish, you know.
BLANCHE:
Oh, yes. They're something like Irish, aren't they?
STELLA:
Well--
BLANCHE:
Only not so--highbrow?
[They both laugh again in the same way.]
I brought some nice clothes to meet all your lovely friends in.
STELLA:
I'm afraid you won't think they are lovely.
BLANCHE:
What are they like?
STELLA:
They're Stanley's friends.
BLANCHE:
Polacks?
STELLA:
They're a mixed lot, Blanche.
BLANCHE:
Heterogeneous--types?
STELLA:
Oh, yes. Yes, types is right!
BLANCHE:
Well--anyhow--I brought nice clothes and I'll wear them. I guess you're hoping I'll say I'll put up
at a hotel, but I'm not going to put up at a hotel. I want to be near you, got to be with somebody, I
can't be alone! Because--as you must have noticed--I'm-not very well....
[Her voice drops and her look is frightened.]
STELLA:
You seem a little bit nervous or overwrought or something.
BLANCHE:
Will Stanley like me, or will I just be a visiting in-law, Stella? I couldn't stand that
STELLA:
You'll get along fine together, if you'll just try not to--well--compare him with men that we went
out with at home.
BLANCHE:
Is he so--different?
STELLA:
Yes. A different species.
BLANCHE:
In what way; what's he like?
STELLA:
Oh, you can't describe someone you're in love with! Here's a picture of him!
[She hands a photograph to Blanche.]
BLANCHE:
An officer?
STELLA:
A Master Sergeant in the Engineers' Corps. Those are decorations!
BLANCHE:
He had those on when you met him?
STELLA:
I assure you I wasn't just blinded by all the brass.
BLANCHE:
That's not what I--
STELLA:
But of course there were things to adjust myself to later on.
BLANCHE:
Such as his civilian background!
[Stella laughs uncertainly]
How did he take it when you said I was coming?
STELLA:
Oh, Stanley doesn't know yet.
BLANCHE [frightened]:
You--haven't told him?
STELLA:
He's on the road a good deal.
BLANCHE:
Oh. Travels?
STELLA:
Yes.
BLANCHE:
Good. I mean--isn't it?
STELLA [half to herself]:
I can hardly stand it when he is away for a night...
BLANCHE:
Why, Stella!
STELLA:
When he's away for a week I nearly go wild!
BLANCHE:
Gracious!
STELLA:
And when he comes back I cry on his lap like a baby...
[She smiles to herself.]
BLANCHE:
I guess that is what is meant by being in love....
[Stella looks up with a radiant smile.]
Stella--
STELLA:
What?
BLANCHE [in an uneasy rush]:
I haven't asked you the things you probably thought I was going to ask. And so I'll expect you to
be understanding about what I have to tell you.
STELLA:
What, Blanche?
[Her face turns anxious.]
BLANCHE:
Well, Stella--you're going to reproach me, I know that you're bound to reproach me--but before
you do--take into consideration--you left! I stayed and struggled! You came to New Orleans and
looked out for yourself. I stayed at Belle Reve and tried to hold it together! I'm not meaning this
in any reproachful way, but all the burden descended on my shoulders.
STELLA:
The best I could do was make my own living, Blanche.
[Blanche begins to shake again with intensity.]
BLANCHE:
I know, I know. But you are the one that abandoned Belle Reve, not I! I stayed and fought for it,
bled for it, almost died for it!
STELLA:
Stop this hysterical outburst and tell me what's happened! What do you mean fought and bled?
What kind of--
BLANCHE:
I knew you would, Stella. I knew you would take this attitude about it!
STELLA:
About--what?--please!
BLANCHE [slowly]:
The loss--the loss...
STELLA:
Belle Reve? Lost, is it? No!
BLANCHE:
Yes, Stella.
[They stare at each other across the yellow-checked linoleum of the table. Blanche slowly nods
her head and Stella looks slowly down at her hands folded on the table. The music of the "blue
piano" grows louder. Blanche touches her handkerchief to her forehead.]
STELLA:
But how did it go? What happened?
BLANCHE [springing up]:
You're a fine one to ask me how it went!
STELLA:
Blanche!
BLANCHE:
You're a fine one to sit there accusing me of it!
STELLA:
Blanche!
BLANCHE:
I, I, I took the blows in my face and my body! All of those deaths! The long parade to the
graveyard! Father, mother! Margaret, that dreadful way! So big with it, it couldn't be put in a
coffin! But had to be burned like rubbish! You just came home in time for the funerals, Stella.
And funerals are pretty compared to deaths. Funerals are quiet, but deaths--not always.
Sometimes their breathing is hoarse, and sometimes it rattles, and sometimes they even cry out to
you, "Don't let me go!" Even the old, sometimes, say, "Don't let me go." As if you were able to
stop them! But funerals are quiet, with pretty flowers. And, oh, what gorgeous boxes they pack
them away in! Unless you were there at the bed when they cried out, "Hold me!" you'd never
suspect there was the struggle for breath and bleeding. You didn't dream, but I saw! Saw! Saw!
And now you sit there telling me with your eyes that I let the place go! How in hell do you think
all that sickness and dying was paid for? Death is expensive, Miss Stella! And old Cousin
Jessie's right after Margaret's, hers! Why, the Grim Reaper had put up his tent on our doorstep!...
Stella. Belle Reve was his headquarters! Honey--that's how it slipped through my fingers! Which
of them left us a fortune? Which of them left a cent of insurance even? Only poor Jessie--one
hundred to pay for her coffin. That was all, Stella! And I with my pitiful salary at the school.
Yes, accuse me! Sit there and stare at me, thinking I let the place go! I let the place go? Where
were you! In bed with your--Polack!
STELLA [springing]:
Blanche! You be still! That's enough!
[She starts out.]
BLANCHE:
Where are you going?
STELLA:
I'm going into the bathroom to wash my face.
BLANCHE:
Oh, Stella, Stella, you're crying!
STELLA:
Does that surprise you?
BLANCHE:
Forgive me--I didn't mean to--
[The sound of men's voices is heard. Stella goes into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
When the men appear, and Blanche realizes it must be Stanley returning, she moves uncertainly
from the bathroom door to the dressing table, looking apprehensively toward the front door.
Stanley enters, followed by Steve and Mitch. Stanley pauses near his door, Steve by the foot of
the spiral stair, and Mitch is slightly above and to the right of them, about to go out. As the men
enter, we hear some of the following dialogue.]
STANLEY:
Is that how he got it?
STEVE:
Sure that's how he got it. He hit the old weather-bird for 300 bucks on a six-number-ticket.
MITCH:
Don't tell him those things; he'll believe it.
[Mitch starts out.]
STANLEY [restraining Mitch]:
Hey, Mitch-come back here.
[Blanche, at the sound of voices, retires in the bedroom. She picks up Stanley's photo from
dressing table, looks at it, puts it down. When Stanley enters the apartment, she darts and hides
behind the screen at the head of bed.]
STEVE [to Stanley and Mitch]:
Hey, are we playin' poker tomorrow?
STANLEY:
Sure--at Mitch's.
MITCH [hearing this, returns quickly to the stair rail]:
No--not at my place. My mother's still sick!
STANLEY:
Okay, at my place....
[Mitch starts out again]
But you bring the beer!
[Mitch pretends not to hear,--calls out "Goodnight all," and goes out, singing.]
Eunice's voice is heard, above:
Break it up down there! I made the spaghetti dish and ate it myself.
STEVE [going upstairs]:
I told you and phoned you we was playing.
[To the men] Jax beer!
EUNICE:
You never phoned me once.
STEVE:
I told you at breakfast--and phoned you at lunch....
EUNICE:
Well, never mind about that. You just get yourself home here once in a while.
STEVE:
You want it in the papers?
[More laughter and shouts of parting come from the men. Stanley throws the screen door of the
kitchen open and comes in. He is of medium height, about five feet eight or nine, and strongly,
compactly built. Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes. Since
earliest manhood the center of his life has been pleasure with women, the giving and taking of it,
not with weak indulgence, dependency, but with the power and pride of a richly feathered male
bird among hens. Branching out from this complete and satisfying center are all the auxiliary
channels of his life, such as his heartiness with men, his appreciation of rough humor, his love of
good drink and food and games, his car, his radio, everything that is his, that bears his emblem of
the gaudy seed-bearer. He sizes women up at a glance, with sexual classifications, crude images
flashing into his mind and determining the way he smiles at them.]
BLANCHE [drawing involuntarily back from his stare]:
You must be Stanley. I'm Blanche.
STANLEY:
Stella's sister?
BLANCHE:
Yes.
STANLEY:
H'lo. Where's the little woman?
BLANCHE:
In the bathroom.
STANLEY:
Oh. Didn't know you were coming in town.
BLANCHE:
I--uh--
STANLEY:
Where you from, Blanche?
BLANCHE:
Why, I--live in Laurel.
[He has crossed to the closet and removed the whiskey bottle.]
STANLEY:
In Laurel, huh? Oh, yeah. Yeah, in Laurel, that's right. Not in my territory. Liquor goes fast in
hot weather.
[He holds the bottle to the light to observe its depletion.]
Have a shot?
BLANCHE:
No, I--rarely touch it.
STANLEY:
Some people rarely touch it, but it touches them often.
BLANCHE [faintly]:
Ha-ha.
STANLEY:
My clothes 're stickin' to me. Do you mind if I make myself comfortable?
[He starts to remove his shirt.]
BLANCHE:
Please, please do.
STANLEY:
Be comfortable is my motto.
BLANCHE:
It's mine, too. It's hard to stay looking fresh. I haven't washed or even powdered my face and--
here you are!
STANLEY:
You know you can catch cold sitting around in damp things, especially when you been
exercising hard like bowling is. You're a teacher, aren’t you?
BLANCHE:
Yes.
STANLEY:
What do you teach, Blanche?
BLANCHE:
English.
STANLEY:
I never was a very good English student. How long you here for, Blanche?
BLANCHE:
I--don't know yet.
STANLEY:
You going to shack up here?
BLANCHE:
I thought I would if it's not inconvenient for you all.
STANLEY:
Good.
BLANCHE:
Traveling wears me out.
STANLEY:
Well, take it easy.
[A cat screeches near the window. Blanche springs up.]
BLANCHE:
What's that?
STANLEY:
Cats.... Hey, Stella!
STELLA [faintly, from the bathroom]:
Yes, Stanley.
STANLEY:
Haven't fallen in, have you?
[Be grins at Blanche. She tries unsuccessfully to smile back. There is a silence]
I'm afraid I'll strike you as being the unrefined type. Stella's spoke of you a good deal. You were
married once, weren't you?
[The music of the polka rises up, faint in the distance.]
BLANCHE:
Yes. When I was quite young.
STANLEY:
What happened?
BLANCHE:
The boy--the boy died.
[She sinks back down]
I'm afraid I'm-going to be sick!
[Her head falls on her arms.]

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #


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