Banned Books: Streetcar Edition


Banned Books Week 2013 ends today. This is the time of year when lovers of the First Amendment and literature compile lists to shame small-minded censors who’ve attempted to remove verified classics from circulation.

On the list of “Banned Books Which Helped Shape America,” found on the official website for Banned Books Week 2013, is Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. A big new production of that show, of course, opened this week at the Yale Repertory Theatre. (My review is here.)

Tennessee Williams’ play was much expurgated when it was made into a film in 1950 by the same writer (Williams) and director (Elia Kazan) who’d done the Broadway version.
It is worth noting that New Haven, a city founded by Puritans who wouldn’t allow virtually any form of live entertainment for the city’s first two centuries of existence, then had blue laws in place for another century or so, by 1947 was world-premiering a play which openly discusses racism, sexism, domestic abuse and other unsavory yet essential social issues.
I call that progress.

Streetcar Named Desires is at the Yale Rep through Oct. 12.