1940 New Orleans: Jazz clubs line one side the street and voodoo shops fill the other.
In between, the working class plods to odd jobs as they weave between little streetcars in a city that may seem soiled to one onlooker yet beautiful and unique to another.
This is the setting in Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” his Pulitzer Prize-winning play from 1948.
Theatre Oxford will celebrate the late Williams’ 100th birthday with their “tried and true” summer play, according to co-producer Susan McPhail.
The occasion is marked by more than a chance to showcase a renowned play; it will also be one of the rare moments that bring the University of Mississippi’s theatre department and Theatre Oxford together.
Jared Davis, an alumnus of the UM theatre department, will direct Theatre Oxford’s rendition of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
“It’s really exciting because we don’t usually get the chance to work with the University’s students,” stage manager and producer Melanie Addington said.
“It’s nice to build bridges between branches of the theater.”
Davis is preceded by high recommendations, Addington said.
“He can really do anything,” she said.
Davis has been in the theater community for quite a long time.
He began his theater career during his sophomore year of high school and continued to participate in the arts throughout college, attaining a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from UM in 2008.
Today, Davis remains active in the UM theatre department as the events coordinator and head electrician.
He also participates in plays whenever he gets a chance. This year, Davis played in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” as Man In Chair.
According to the Daily Mississippian’s review of the play, he stole the show “with his hilarious characterization of Man in Chair.
After watching his performance, it’s a wonder why he was so overlooked in his time here before graduation.”
Beyond the UM theater, he is the technical director and has participated in several performances for Hinge, a student-led dance company, and Showstoppers, an Ole Miss theater dance company.
He also helped found Oxford’s production company, Free Time Productions, which allows theater students a chance to participate in plays that are more “conducive to students and not just for theatre buffs,” Davis said.
According to McPhail, Davis has big plans for the Powerhouse, where the play will be held August 11, 12 and 13.
He said he intends to create an elaborate New Orleans set, one that will place the audience directly in the city.
Davis also said he aims to keep the script and actors’ portrayals of the famous characters as close as possible to Tennessee Williams’ original.
“He wrote it with such attention to detail that I feel like it should be portrayed just like he wanted it,” Davis said.
Auditions for the production will be held April 20 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and May 1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Powerhouse.
“I’m looking for interesting people,” Davis said.
“I like to base the show off of the people I find, so the more people that come out, the more options I have. I see big things in the future for Theatre Oxford.”
From the DM by Katherine Westfall