Henrietta Bredin

‘A sticky, sweaty play’

Henrietta Bredin talks to Ruth Wilson about her role as Stella in the Donmar’s Streetcar

Henrietta Bredin talks to Ruth Wilson about her role as Stella in the Donmar’s Streetcar

If Ruth Wilson doesn’t very soon become a major force to be reckoned with, as an actress, director, producer, screenwriter (probably all four), I’ll eat my entire, quite extensive collection of hats. She is bursting with talent and possesses a gleefully voracious appetite for a challenge. This is probably just as well as she is about to take on the role of Stella at the Donmar Warehouse in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

‘I love Stella,’ she says, leaning back in her chair and gulping a mug of tea. ‘I think she’s quite an opportunist, very modern and forward-thinking. She’s left the life of the Deep South and the old family home behind her and she’s moving on, getting herself a new life.’

We are having this conversation when the cast is only halfway through the second week of rehearsals, so has she got a feel yet for the whole shape and balance of the play?

‘I hope we’re about to reach that point. Last week we were working on placing and movement, how to make sure that the focus of attention is in the right place at the right time. It’s crucial to establish how Stella and Stanley’s relationship works from the beginning, and how that’s affected and disrupted by Blanche’s arrival. She brings so much clutter with her, both physically and psychologically; her fear of ageing and being alone. It’s great that we’re all the right age for this piece. It’s so often played with an older actress as Blanche that people think she’s supposed to be in her mid-fifties but she’s not, she’s in her mid-thirties, and Stella is in her mid- to late-twenties. Stella’s been awakened sexually by Stanley and as a couple they’ve got an extraordinary power and vitality.

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