a streetcar named desire
Mud's first adventure, Tennessee Williams’s "A Streetcar Named Desire", played to standing room only for its last six performances at the Cherry Pit in NYC, a 99 seat house.
Mud was born out of a vision Jen Danby had to make her own work in theatre and from meeting actors like Toshi Takeshima in Austin Pendleton’s advanced acting class at HB Studio, where they were working on Stanley and Blanche in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Exploring the play both as Stella and Blanche in classes and feeling more and more passion for the play, Jen had this idea to do the play as a dream project and talked to Austin and different actors about it who were into it too. Jen and Toshi were members of HB Ensemble and it was an adventure in taking the work’s momentum and bridging from there out into the world. It was a great time. Mud was happening! From there came other plays, with Mud actors' lab approach focusing on storytelling and real and true acting, morphing into making new American work like Seagull69, Mud’s adaptation of Chekhov’s modern classic set in LA in 1969...
"Over the past year or two I did a great deal of work, in my classes at HB Studio and privately, on scenes from A Streetcar Named Desire, which Jen Danby and several other remarkable actors were hoping to mount as a full production. This summer they realized their dream. A fine director, Brian Lady, took the work we had all done and shaped it into the best production I have seen of that magnificent and difficult play in years. Everything about it -- the performances (all of which took great leaps beyond the groundwork we had done), the production values, the use of a very challenging and exciting space -- everything spoke of a thorough, meticulous professionalism harnessed to a deep and sensitive love of the play, to a degree that made it possible to feel, in a theatre, in a live performance, what Tennessee Williams called in a different play "the old pure music" once again. The response to the production was full and overflowing, and that has emboldened the company that was formed to do the play, christened Mississippi Mud, to move forward as a producing entity. This is profoundly promising news for the New York theatre scene. I wish them so well. I hope very much to work with these people again, but an even more important hope I have than that is that the company will be allowed to grow and flourish.
Make voyages. Attempt them. There is nothing else. That's another thing Tennessee Williams said. And here is Mississippi Mud. It's pretty thrilling." - Austin Pendleton, co-director of Mud's Streetcar, who acted with Meryl Streep, directed Elizabeth Taylor, and won praise in films like “My Cousin Vinny and “What’s Up Doc?" and is a Tony nominated and Obie winning Director and 2007 American Renaissance Man of the Theatre Drama Desk Award
“The Mississippi Mud production of Streetcar was an eye opener. I rediscovered the play that I had given up on after many recent acclaimed productions that did not provide the magic. How wonderful to find Tennessee Williams' heart and soul still alive and well with a new and courageous company who chose to go back to the roots of the play rather than burden it with unnecessary frills and furbelows and star turns. Acting, direction, set design however minimal, sound design, everything about it was professional and satisfying. As Blanche says... "Sometimes....there's God...so quickly". More, more, please.” - Stephanie Braxton, Emmy winning writer for network soaps on ABC and NBC, and actress
"I was so impressed with the The Mississippi Mud production of "Streetcar" - what a gift to hear that language...yay, theatre!...The company magically preserved the feeling and time of the original period it was set in—1946 New Orleans—but yet made it fresh, now, and accessible." - Jill Lorie Hurst, head writer for the CBS soap Guiding Light