New York Times: July 14, 1958
by Arthur Gelb

 

Off-Broadway Production Will Star Hilda Simms -- ‘Enrico’ Loses a Sponsor

 

A desegregated Streetcar Named Desire will begin an off-Broadway run in September. Tennessee Williams, author of the drama that captured the Pulitzer Prize and the Drama Critics Circle award in the 1947-48 season, is in Europe. But his agent, Audrey Wood, explained that he had granted permission for the production because "he has always been an avid admirer of Negro actors."

Hilda Simms, the Negro actress who achieved fame in the title role of Anna Lucasta here and in London, will play Blanche Du Bois, the faded Southern aristocrat. The part was played by Jessica Tandy in the original Broadway presentation and by Vivien Leigh in the movie version.

The roles of Stanley and Stella Kowalski, Blanche's brother-in-law and sister done by Marlon Brando and Him Hunter on Broadway), also will be portrayed by Negro actors, who are now being auditioned. Some of the smaller parts. such as the doctor and Stanley's friends, will be played by white actors.

 

Hilda Simms

TO BE STARRED: Hilda Simms, who will appear in revival of
Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire at Carnegie
Hall Playhouse next Sept. 17.

 

Tentatively set to open at the Carnegie Hall Playhouse on Sept. 17. the play will be produced by Terry Carter and Harvey Garrick. It will be directed by Eli Rill, who is a protégé of Elia Kazan at the Actors Studio.

Some of the dialogue, according to a spokesman for the producers, will he changed with Mr. Williams' approval to fit the Negro characters. Blanche, it was understood, will be played as a Creole, or mixed French, Spanish and Negro ancestry.

"I feel it will be altogether plausible for Blanche to be of Creole heritage," Miss Simms said yesterday. "There are Creoles in New Orleans [where the play is set] who came from aristocratic backgrounds not unlike that of Blanche Du Bois."

Miss Simms added that she wanted to play the role because she would like an opportunity to appear in "a first-class play."

"I haven't had a chance to develop as an actress here with the kind of roles I've been offered," she said. "Most of the plays with roles for Negro actresses are inferior vehicles. I only hope this version of Streetcar won't be sensationalized on the basis that it is a gimmick production, I see Blanche as a fine role in a marvellous play."