In the United States, the 1940's was a time riddled with echoes of the Great Depression and the effects of World War II. There was a sense of fear amongst American people, and one of the few escapes from the real world was entertainment. The television and movie industries were growing, but, like the rest of the country, Broadway was in a time of uncertain change. Theatres were being replaced with film houses, the number of productions was at a low, and the unemployment rate amongst actors was a shocking 80% (Morrden 49). However, in 1947 one of the most significant plays in American history opened on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. That play was A Streetcar Named Desire. The production not only came at a time when theatre needed it, but it also featured the work of an immensely significant group of individuals that permanently impacted the industry. From Tennessee Williams to Elia Kazan, and from Jo Mielziner to actors Marlon Brando and Jessica Tandy, A Streetcar Named Desire truly featured the work of a Broadway all-star team. .
Streetcar chronicles Blanche DuBois' search for protection and eventual mental breakdown at the hands of her sister's husband, Stanley Kowalski. When Blanche arrives in New Orleans, she and Stanley's clashing personalities are made apparent from the start. She is tender, proper, and a bit delusional, while he represents tough reality and the brutal nature of man. They both struggle for control of Stella and Mitch, and Stanley reveals unfavorable stories from Blanche's past in an attempt to turn them against her. Finally, in the climax of the story, Stanley asserts his dominance over Blanche by raping her and pushing her fragile mind over the edge. She is taken away to a mental institution as the play fades to black. The production was a "masterpiece, winning every major honor, including the Pulitzer Prize, The Donaldson Award, and the New York Drama Critic's Award (Wilmeth 626).