A Streetcar Named Desire

A Ballet by John Neumeier

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Ballet by John Neumeier


Content Warning: A Streetcar Named Desire contains adult themes and controversial elements, such as sexuality, sexual assault, suicide, violence, and alcoholism. The sound of gunfire will be used in this performance as well as the use of camera flash, e-cigarettes and suggestive language.

Not recommended for audience members under the age of 14.

Tennessee Williams received the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for his gritty Broadway play, A Streetcar Named Desire. Richly characterized and simmering with violence, the story follows the demise of Blanche DuBois, a southern belle transplanted in a hostile, impoverished landscape she cannot accept. John Neumeier, the brilliant Director and Chief Choreographer of The Hamburg Ballet, created a striking adaptation of Streetcar for ballet in 1983, forgoing chronology to delve deep inside the mind of the play’s tortured heroine.

The Story

Blanche DuBois travels from Laurel, Mississippi to New Orleans to live with her sister Stella following the loss of their family plantation, Belle Reve, and the suicide of her young husband, Allan. Stella lives in a dilapidated apartment with her husband Stanley Kowalski, whose brutish behaviour is a foil for Blanche’s affectations. Their clash culminates in assault and escalates Blanche’s mental deterioration until she is committed to an asylum. 

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Acclaimed performances and adaptations of A Streetcar Named Desire have made the story an enduring part of the popular imagination. Among the most famous is Elia Kazan’s 1951 film starring Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando.
  2. 2Neumeier’s adaptation is not a chronological retelling of the story. He starts where the play ends, with Blanche staring blankly from her bed in an institution. This powerful tableau then gives way to remembered events of Belle Reve and the apartment in New Orleans as Neumeier looks deeply at Blanche’s inner life.
  3. 3Neumeier is not only the choreographer of Streetcar, he also designed the costumes, sets and lighting. He renders Belle Reve with plantation shutters and columns that gradually collapse in reference to a dying past and in Stella’s apartment, he conveys the constant threat of violence with a large, centrally placed bed.
  4. 4The National Ballet of Canada is one of the largest repositories of Neumeier’s work in North America. Most recent acquisitions include Anna Karenina, based on Leo Tolstoy’s famous novel, The Seagull, based on Anton Chekhov’s play, and Nijinsky which evokes the life of legendary dancer Vaslav Nijinsky.
  5. 5Sonia Rodriguez, one of the National Ballet’s most luminous artists, will retire as Principal Dancer this season after a glorious 32 year career with the company. She has chosen to dance the role of Blanche DuBois as her farewell performance. Sonia will dance March 2, 4 and 5 at 7:30 pm.


Streetcar Named Desire View Gallery

The Choreographer

Born in Milwaukee, John Neumeier is a leading international choreographer with a diverse body of work, much of it focused on preserving ballet tradition within a modern dramatic framework. He was a dancer with Stuttgart Ballet and Director of Ballett Frankfurt before joining The Hamburg Ballet as Director and Chief Choreographer in 1973.

The Composer

Russian-born Sergei Prokofiev was one of the major composers of the 20th century, best known and celebrated for his symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, piano sonatas and ballets, most notably Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet, which is considered one of his greatest works.

Alfred Schnittke was a Russian composer renowned for developing the technique of “polystylism,” by which he juxtaposed elements from different musical periods. His vast oeuvre includes symphonies, concertos, film scores and the ballet Peer Gynt.


Ballet Talk


“ ★★★★/4 Inspired… splendidly intense and expressive… extravagant psychodrama” — Toronto Star

“Neumeier's work is full of atmosphere, pathos and affecting choreography” — The Globe and Mail

A Streetcar Named Desire is exciting, provocative and raw. It will take your breath away.” — BroadwayWorld.com

“John Neumeier’s A Streetcar Named Desire reminds us what a dramatic storyteller the great choreographer truly is. Neumeier has taken the essence of the Tennessee Williams play and explored its backstory” — Ballet Review

Running Time

  • Act I 40m
  • Intermission 20m
  • Act II 60m
  • Total (approx) 2h


Choreography, Costume, Set and Lighting Design:
John Neumeier

Staged by:
Laura Cazzaniga, Tamas Detrich & Ivan Urban

Act I: Sergei Prokofiev, Visions Fugitives, Op. 22
Act II: Alfred Schnittke, Symphony No. 1

Lighting Reconstruction:
Ralf Merkel

Piano Soloist:
Andrei Streliaev

Intimacy Consultant:
Anisa Tejpar

Premiere: Stuttgart Ballet, Stuttgart, Germany, December 3, 1983
The National Ballet of Canada Premiere: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, June 3, 2017

A Streetcar Named Desire is made possible by the generous support of The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation and The Producers’ Circle.

The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Susanne Boyce & Brendan Mullen, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, The Thor E. and Nicole Eaton Charitable Foundation, Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin Garland & Roger Garland, C.M., Emmanuelle Gattuso, C.M. and Allan Slaight, C.M., The William & Nona Heaslip Foundation, Rosamond Ivey, Hal Jackman Foundation, Anna McCowan Johnson & Donald K. Johnson, O.C., Judy Korthals & Peter Irwin, Judith & Robert Lawrie, Mona & Harvey Levenstein, Jerry & Joan Lozinski, The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Lynda & Jonas Prince, Susan Scace & Arthur Scace, C.M., Q.C., Gerald Sheff & Shanitha Kachan, Sandra Simpson and Noreen Taylor, C.M. & David Staines, C.M., O.Ont.

Running Time

  • Act I 40m
  • Intermission 20m
  • Act II 60m
  • Total (approx) 2h

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