tv Charlie Rose PBS May 25, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with david ignatius, the foreign affairs columnist for "the washington post" and his recent trip to the middle east with the head of centcom. >> all the tricky issues which suction depends were problematic were critical. the u.s. machine that's cranked up, it's powerful and if it has a solid enough political foundation, it's going to get the job done. i don't know whether it will be by the end of the year, who can say what the precise timing, is sort of like world war ii. you just know this overwhelming power, once started, will -- >> rose: and we continue with robert costa of "the washington post" about donald trump. >> this is a candidate who sees the general election and victory on the horizon but believes he has to battle to get there. he needs to bring up things that
really are not part of normal political conversation. i asked him in our interview about the 1993 death of vince foster, the former white house attorney just to see where he was on that, he said it was very suspicious, fishy, he said he won't make a central case in his campaign about it, but it's striking we have a republican, major party nominee who edges toward consideration with some of these things. >> rose: we continue with "a streetcar named desire," starring gillian anderson, ben foster and vanessa kirby. >> it certainly feels insurmountable. it feels impossible. until you get your rhythm in it, if the play can sit on your shoulders and you are under it and it is a terrifying feeling. >> rose: accompanying and leading general to syria and iraq, bob costa on donald trump, and "a streetcar named desire" when we continue. funding for charlie rose is provided by the following.
>> rose: we begin this evening with the fight against i.s.i.s., an operation to recapture the city of fallujah led by iraqi forces beginning monday. 15 iraqi soldiers reportedly killed in the assault in anbar province. a kurdish-led force led an offensive in syria in territories around raqqa, backed by u.s. airstrikes and putting pressure on i.s.i.s. forces in their strong hold. david ignatius is a foreign
affairs columnist for "the washington post." he recently traveled to northern syria and iraq with the commander of the u.s. central command. i am pleased to have him back on this program. david, welcome. >> thank you. thank you, charlie. >> rose: tell me about the trip and what you saw and -- because this, as you suggested right before we started, was the first time a cent come commander has done this in six years. >> this was a very unusual opportunity for me and other reporters to travel with the commander of centcom and in that role as overall supervision of our war in syria and iraq against i.s.i.s. this is the first time since, i think, 2010, roughly, that a centcom commander has taken press with him under general austin a predecessor of general otel and madis, that was out. they did not want the press
coming along. general v votel wanted to take us in syria with him. we were not allowed to file anything until we'd gotten out of the country and were in amman, jordan. it was a rare chance to see u.s. military advisors on the ground in syria working with the opposition there trying to build and launch against the islamic state against its capital in raqqa. there are few who write about forwards as well as you but the notion is understanding the basis of information and contacts you have, from that point, what did you learn? what was surprising? what was new?
>> i have been covering the middle east since 1980, so i have been looking at this part of the world for a long time, and the frustrations of trying to move forward in the middle east are familiar to me as all your viewers. what i saw on this trip, i'd say first, was the overwhelming power that the u.s. military can bring to bear once it really gets organized, gets authority from the president. this campaign against i.s.i.s. has had, i think, a slow start, but you could see on this trip that it's finally really beginning to gear up. there are just daily operations. i was in two huge operations rooms where the screens display the feeds from surveillance drones, monitoring of air strikes, every operation is taking place across this theater. so that was the first thing, a sense of u.s. military power. the second thing was the chance, when we were inside syria at a u.s. training facility, inside the country, to see our military
advisors at work. these are just remarkable men and women. we're not allowed to see them. i can't say all that much about -- i. not even sure -- i'm not even sure where they were. these are amazing people. they are living off land, living rough in simple places and they are working with tribal fighters. the syrian kurdish militia, the y.p.g., the fighters who over the last six months, year, have begun to really push i.s.i.s. back. it was a chance to see how that's working and the people who were doing it on behalf of the country. the final takeaway for me, charlie, was the mismatch between the military part of this strategy and the political side, which i just found so many contradictory elements as i travel through iraq, syria. we're sort of working on basing
this military campaign on what i said in one column is political quick sand in both iraq and syria. so those were the three basics, looking at our military machine, looking at the people doing this as military advisors, and finally trying to think through the politics. >> rose: what's possible before the obama administration ends in january? >> well, i think the obama administration this year has been accelerating its campaign in both syria against raqqa, the i.s.i.s. capital in syria and against mosul in iraq. i find very few people who think that the clearing and securing of those two places can be accomplished before obama leaves office, but i think obama, part is a legacy issue and properly in his role as commander-in-chief, wants to put hard, using the tools he's now got in hand, and those are the ones i was able to see.
the most interesting thing i found in iraq -- we'll talk more about syria, but in iraq, i have been focused -- i was just in iraq on my own three weeks ago and looking at the campaign in mosul and saw a lot of setbacks in the north, but on this trip i was able to see in the euphrates valley that stretches from fallujah through ramadi up towards the jordanian border, there really has been a lot of progress made, and there was evidence that i found that the tribal sheiks were very pragmatic, opportunistic, to be blunt, are beginning to think i.s.i.s. may not be the winning bet. >> rose: wow. so in classic fashion, tribal leaders are beginning, in cases our experts listed for me, and i know some of these tribes over the last 15 years, are beginning to flip. so i thought that story in the
euphrates valley was interesting. the battle for fallujah that's now been launched in some ways is the trickiest part of this war because it's going to involve shiite militias, the sunnis who were -- who the sunnis who are the primary residents of fallujah hate, but it will involve the sunni, popular militia forces as they're called. watching that play out will tell it's a political issue.lis all the really tricky issues on which ultimate success depends that are problematic, i thought, were political. the military machine that the u.s. is now cranked -- that the u.s. has now cranked up, it's powerful. and if it has a solid enough political foundation, it's going to get the job done. i don't know whether it will be by the end of the year. who can say what the precise timing is. sort of like world war ii. you just know this overwhelming power, once started, will -- so long as there's proper political base of support, and just looking at the events last week
in baghdad, you've had essentially riots, you know, inside the green zone in the heart of the government. it just shows how fragile -- >> rose: that's because of muqtada al-sadr? >> it is, but a government who can't control the intimate space of its capital is a very fragile government, and if that government crumbled suddenly, all of this military power, all the plans, all the operations that i had a chance to look at, i think, become a lot more difficult. >> rose: when i saw the president in germany when he had gone to saudi arabia and then to germany, one of the things he said to me was he was making a strong effort to bring support for the prime minister of iraq among the european allies to give him as much help as they possibly could to give him strength to go through this because he was facing challenges not only from outside and i.s.i.s. and that but also challenges from inside.
>> what's happened interestingly in iraq was the shiite coalition has begin to really fracture. >> rose: right. you could say iran has had as much as trouble being a hegemon in ike as we did. the iranians have been able to keep their shiite allies all on the same page and going in the same direction. that, over the last month or so, has clearly begun to blow apart, and abadi's government is very fragile, as a result. he has been much more cooperative with the u.s. he's made a lot of the changes that we want. interestingly, his problem is one that we should have some sympathy for. the iraqi people are fed up with the gross overwhelming corruption of the government, and abadi says he's going to try to fix it, he's going to try to end this sort of warlordism and thieve riof his own party, the dawa party, which has been wooing things. we'll see if he political muscle to do that.
for now, he's actually reached out to muktar al-sadr, the radical popular shiite leader, as a kin kind of ally in some of this anti-corruptionle effort. >> rose: but he's a guy that's close to the iranians as well. >> the iranians are close to almost everybody in iraq. i must say the iranians work hard to play every side of the street. but that said, they're having some trouble. you know, it's not in their interest that you have rioting in the green zone of a government they're essentially working with. >> rose: what role is the ayatollah playing today, sistani? >> i have told, and i have not been to the najaf camp personally, but i'm told by people who talked to the leadership is sistani and other leaders are fed up. >> rose: exactly. they just think the country is corrupt. they bought into the effort to build this new shiite-led iraq. they believed in it, they backed
the government. one person cited to me an interesting fact that the religious leadership in najaf no longer delivers political sermons on friday supporting the effort to have a shiite-led iraq. they've pulled back. the iraqi, the najaf tradition has always been quietistic, not so political. they have gotten more involved in supporting the government. they have pulled back. hard to know exactly, but they're fed up with what they're watching. >> rose: i hear you talk about the americans. it's interesting that people have questioned the president and suggested he was not in this fight. he clearly is now, as you suggest. is there criticism that he's been too much a victim of incrementalism, and all of a sudden realized that, you know, there is more at stake and he had more of an interest in providing a stronger effort?
>> i think that the white house slow-rolled this campaign for a long time. it's taken them a long time to authorize the level of commitment, the level of special operations forces in syria and iraq, the advisors on the ground, the forward deployment of people, they resisted that for a long time both in numbers and authorities that they gave people. that's now changing. i think that, in ways that we don't fully understand or know about, i think they're very aggressive operations now to go after, sort of capture, kill operations to go after i.s.i.s. networks that could threaten the united states' homeland and could threaten europe. i think there is much more of that going on now than there was before. i've always thought the president is better as a covert commander-in-chief than as a
public, overt commander-in-chief. it's just strange. here's the president who can now say, well, you know, i killed osama bin laden and i killed mullah mo mansour, the head of e taliban. both very difficult operations conducted in afghanistany territory. so on that level, the president has been aggressive. he's allergic to syria. he has not wanted to do syria from the beginning. he's found a level of commitment he's now comfortable with, which is training and deploying these ferocious syrian kurdish fighters i met who broke out of kobani, they're the toughest fighters in that part of the world that people have seen. i mean, they are really the match for i.s.i.s. i met the women's militia of this syrian kurdish group the y.p.g., women who i was told by the u.s. military advisors wear
suicide belts when they go into combat because if they're taken prisoners by i.s.i.s. they knee they will be turned into six slaves so they'd rather blow themselves up. they're remarkable fighters. talking to these women was really a revelation in that part of the world. to see women in trenches alongside the men which is the way they're said to fight, that's different. >> rose: the coalition, how engaged is the rest of the coalition other than the united states and the kurds? >> the last stop on our trip was the air base in turkey where the turks allowed the u.s. and other coalition forces to operate. i was told by the commander of the a10 squadron -- the a10 is the sort of workhorse planes used to do the targeting in syria, especially -- i was told there is roughly equal coalition commitment there as the u.s.
i didn't see the evidence of that directly but was told that on the record by the commander. so they're there. you know, the pattern of daily air operations over both iraq and syria is pretty intense. when you go to these command centers where they display the combat information across the theater, you just see that this is basically a 24-7 operation, and that they're -- you know, when we're going through our days, they are targeting these people everywhere. it's very tough and dangerous to be an i.s.i.s. member now syria and iraq. >> rose: and the russians? the russians remain the interesting x factor here. the situation in western syria along the coast in lada kia where i.s.i.s. staged horrific attacks this week, they managed to penetrate and blow up lots of car bombs, the situation in aleppo, the northwest and then the corridor down through homs
the russians have been trying to bolster bashar al-assad's forces, the regime in pushing back the islamic state rebels, the al-nusra front which is the al quaida affiliate of i.s.i.s., but also some of the islamist groups the united states and qatar have been supporting. that battle space is very conflicted. i think both the u.s. and russians now are playing for some kind of dim pact resolution. i think the russians looking at this realized what a brahamable bush this is and would actually like to see the diplomacy work if they could find a way. >> rose: and what is the way? well, in theory, the way is the geneva process our secretary of state john kerry and the russians have been working on, which is to get the opposition around the table with elements of the syrian regime and with
the support of saudi arabia, iran, turkey, all the feuding neighbors and hammer out some kind of process for political transition. i think the problem is that bashar al-assad thinks he's winning. why should he come to the negotiating table. he and his russian friends are more powerful now than they have been for the last few years. why should they make concessions in a negotiating process? so it's gotten stuck. whether secretary kerry can unstick it, we'll see. i don't see in the west, i honestly don't see a strategy for military success. i mean, you need to sort of get feuding factions together and then go after i.s.i.s. i. in the northeast area, there seems to be a clear tragedy led by the syrian kurd y.p.g. that the turks hate but are letting operations go forward. >> rose: david, thank you so much. >> thanks, charlie. >> rose: david ignatius from washington, just returned from
syria and iraq. back in a moment. stay with us. brrveg >> rose: we now turn to politics. recent polls show donald trump is competitive in the general election against hillary clinton as he unifies the republican party's base. trump has escalated his campaign tactics against clinton. monday released an instagram video attacking bill clinton's character and raising hillary clinton's record on women. meanwhile the long primary battle with bernie sanders has hurt clinton's standing in the polls. monday trump met with senator bob corker amid rumors he may be a possibly running mate. with me bob costa of "the washington post." bob, thank you for doing this. good to see you. >> good to join you. >> rose: tell me where you think the trump campaign is at this moment, in terms of their assessment of the general election to come. >> the trump campaign at the moment based on my report is in a moment of transition but also
one of surprising ease. there's a sense inside of trump tower that the money is coming in from the republican establishment. the party leadership is on board and they see the party base reflected in the polling is also come along. so they're full-bore right now into the general election campaign. >> rose: they're launching escalating attacks against bill clinton. >> they are and that comes from sat down with him at trump tower a few days ago and have been in touch with his top advisors. he for many years associated with roger stone who dabbled in conspiracy theory, wrote books about it. trump had lunch with edward klein the normaller "new york times" magazine editor that writes the clinton books, these are the people in trump's circle at this time and trump believes he'll go with no limits in the election campaign in bringing up
ugly political chapters from the '90s people have forgotten or shelved in their mind. >> rose: what does that say about donald trump to you? >> it says this is a candidate who sees the general election and strict rion the horizon but believes he has to battle to get there. he needs to bring up things that are not part of normal political asked him in our interview about the 1993 death of vince foster, the former white house attorney, just to see where he was on that and he said it's very suspicious, he called it very fishy. he said he's not going to make a central case in his campaign about it, but it's striking we have a republican nominee, a major party nominee who at least edges toward consideration of some of these things. >> rose: these kinds of opinions, they're held by roger stone andthers, but they're not held by the vast majority, you know, of the political community. >> they're not. that's exactly right. and the republican party, talking to consultants here in washington, are already uncomfortable, but they do sense trump has a strategy here. it's not so much to have just an
argument of populism, on policy, but to destroy the clintons, to really sully their brand, to bring up her negative numbers even more. >> rose: so will they go deeper and wider and nastier? >> i think trump has a lot of things on his radar. i think if you look at all the accusations of sexual impropriety and different kinds of relationships, even juanita broderick who accused bill clinton of rain in the 1970s, these are part of conversations in the country. you see talk radio show hosts having some of these accusers on this week. this is a bubble that's about to burst into the heart of the general election campaign because trump is encouraging it himself. >> rose: right now the clinton campaign and the former president and the former secretary of state are both in a sense -- they're not ignoring it, but they're not trying to attack every attack against
them. >> that's right. they're not trying to relate gat it and they don't want to get in a position where they have to respond. talking to clinton advisors and clinton allies, my sense, is charlie, they believe they have to show he's unqualified, in their mind, that he's just not ready for the white house. but they also don't have a candidate who's ready to engage moment by moment on social media on the airways. the only concern based on reporting is the saturation by trump on cable and facebook and twitter could be a problem in the long run because it dominates the national political narrative. >> rose: is that part of what trump understands about media? >> he's running a media campaign. this is not a candidate who's right now really -- he's having fundraisers but he's not planning an on-out advertising assault on the air, he's not looking at all the different states, grassroots organizing doesn't matter. this is the first time we've ever seen a true media candidate, someone who everyday is calling into reporters, going on social media and cable as
much as possible. it's a totally different paradigm unfolding before sny's and tweeting about everything before he goes to bed. >> everything. all hours a day he wakes up, dictates tweets, goes to bed hee dictates tweets. he reads every article about him every day. you could argue it's narcissism and it is but at the same time it's part of his strategy where he wants to be in the ecosystem of everything trump and have his own voice be part of it. >> rose: are you primarily covering him? is that the responsibility you have in this campaign? >> i'm not after trump reporter. i cover politics. >> rose: i know but you're doing revealing interviews along with bob woodward, in some cases of trump, not clinton. >> clinton's not as accessible. i've always told clinton sources a and advisors, i would welcome a phone call from her every day. trump makes himself accessible. if you put in a request to trump and he's game to talk about the
story, it may take under an hour to get him on the phone. my sense of trump, i have been covering him two years ago, even going back further than that, this is a candidate who lives on media and if you can come to him with the news of the day, he's usually willing to have conversation. >> rose: absorbed by media? obsessed by media. >> rose: obsessed. this is someone who grew up politically, professionally in the tabloid culture of new york in the 1980s. this is someone who knew then how his public image was everything. it was everything for his companies and that's how he sees his brand now. >> rose: what else do you think he understands about media? >> i think he understands that as bad as one day can get, it's only a day. he's not rattled by something that consumes the news cycle on a wednesday. he thinks thursday he can have a tweet or call into morning joe or change the whole context and the debate within hours. this is someone who sees media as someone who's not only going to be focused on a specific
story but can move quickly. i think he understands that instinctively. >> rose: i assume choosing a vice president nominee is one of the biggest decisions he faces. can you tell us what his thinking is about that? >> i think corey landowski in cbs hit on what trump is telling people behind the scenes, he wants an insider. he thinks he can win a general election and if he wins, he doesn't have experience. i think corker on paper, it was about foreign policy, but you see corker, committee chairman, foreign relations committee, has insights to how capitol hill works. if he's not on the short list, he's on the longer hist. >list. >> rose: who else on the short list, jeff sessions? >> i think sessions, but he brings credibility on populism, immigration, conservative issues trump already has. trump has session voters. trump talked about kasich behind
the scenes to his friends. he thinks kasich having house experience could bring a swing statement you have to look at rick scott who has been an ally of trump. another person i'm hearing from temperature associates is john thune the senator from south dakota, someone from senate leadership. i think trump likes someone who can work with mcconnell and speaker ryan. >> rose: i know this is a broad question -- what is it you think we don't understand about donald trump at this scwungture, even -- juncture, even though we have been covering him every day, writing about him in every magazine, newspaper. he's been at the center of news coverage and politics in america science the primary campaign began, if not earlier. >> i think the thing that's most misunderstood about trump is he's not running as part of an ideological project. it's not someone who comes from the right, and that's unusual in
republican politics. what this means is we have a candidate who doesn't play by the rules in traditional republican politics or traditional politics. he relishes the fight. i think this is often underplayed with trump. he loves the fight politically, personally, and he thinks if he can outlast you, he can outpace you, he can be relentless, eventually he'll win. that's been his strategy in business if you read the biographies and he's approaching it this way with hillary clinton, outlast, be relentless and go beyond the limits. >> rose: you're a reporter for "the washington post." why doesn't he release his taxes? it's not because of the audit. >> certainly not because of the audit, though that is the reason he cites. when you talk to people in real estate, especially in new york, there is a sense many real estate moguls in this city and elsewhere rarely pay much in taxes. they're getting tax breaks and
sometimes they're not paying much at all. so his return could be very small, and i think that's part of why he's uncomfortable with releasing them. >> rose: he hasn't paid as much as people might think? >> or not at all. "the washington post" has done reporting that at least earlier in the '80s, he didn't pay much taxes at all. >> rose: does that correspond to the time when he wasn't doing as well in business and tottering on, some say, bankruptcy? >> that's right, and it's also a question about trump's value and his wealth has always been so much of his value and his billions are associated with his brand which he values in the multi-billions. when it comes to the actual liquid cash he has to what his assets are worth, so much of it is in property, the tax returns, i think just pays them talking to people close to trump, they don't think it's revealing of the scope of his fortune. that's why he's reluctant to do it, and of course citing the
audit. >> rose: some might suggest when you go to financial institutions to borrow money, you have to have real facts. you can't simply say i'm worth this or believe me or my brand is worth this. you have to be able to prove that if a financial institution is going to lend you money. the real estate business is all about borrowing money to build buildings. >> i couldn't agree more and he should release his tax returns. it's irregular for a major presidential candidate to not release their tax returns. the other thing trump has not answered and is lingering as a question is what is this audit all about? has the federal government actually made a statement to trump requiring a certain kind of settlement if have they said how much he owes in potential back taxes? all these things are out there floating as questions. >> rose: my point, is you know him better and i asked him once what reporter understands you better? and he said you. what is your sense of this? >> on the tax returns specifically? >> rose: yes. thiit is my sense this is
something we's not comfortable sharing. he asserted himself in the last 30, 40 years as a millionaire, now billionaire. he covets that position and he doesn't think everyone understands his fortune and the extent of it and he thinks his tax returns are representative of only a sliver of who he is. >> rose: but goes to the heart of his ego in terms of how he wants to be perceived and how he has sold himself. >> that's right. i mean, i just think back to last summer, charlie, when he started to run for president, he released his financial statement and we scooped it, we got it first, and it had his value, the trump name itself, worth something like $3 billion, and that just was indicative to me of how much stake he puts in his brand and not so much of his bank account or tax run. that's how much trump thinks of himself and his fortune. >> rose: most of the political people you know, are they increasingly political people regardless of what they thought in the past and regardless of
their political affiliation, whether their strategy is for one party or the other, one candidate or the other, the center of politics believes therdonald trump can win the presidency. >> that's based on all insiders, democrats and republicans. i think what trump saw more than a year ago was a broken republican party, an institutional vacuum he strolled into and because of the concerns of globalization, the concerns with the republican base, they don't think the party is doing anything on immigration and the economy out there, a frustration on the right with president obama, and adding trump celebrity, he consumed now taken over his party. he's running against an historically might democratic nominee in secretary clinton. a sense that clinton can't make the says that trump is not qualified to be in the oval office or too dangerous. if she can't make that convincing case in the next five months, he has more than a shot
of being the next president, and that's a stunning reality for many people here in washington, but in this time of upheaval here in america and around the globe, you see the rise of the far right all across the globe, now there is a sense that it could happen here, a trump presidency. >> rose: but he's not an ideological guy and you wouldn't call him necessarily of the far right. he's simply a guy who's been able to persuade the far right to join him. >> that's the important distinction. he did not come out of the grassroots on the far right. he associates with elements of the far right, with conspiracy theorists, and that element is there. but he is -- at the heart of it, he's a businessman who has a nativist view. american first is his foreign policy. he's anti-intervention abroad. that's who donald trump is. >> rose: that's who he is and who he means to be? >> he loves to cut deals. whether he could cut a deal in
washington, who knows, but he's not someone who taught -- that's why paul ryan is so uncomfortable with him. ryan grows up in the conservative movement. t one of ryan's troops, he's's not someone who thinks of reagan and jack kemp like the others and ryan does. >> rose: bob costa, always a pleasure. >> thank you. >> rose: bob costa from "the washington post." back in a moment, we'll talk ability broadway and "a streetcar named desire." >> rose: the newest production of "a streetcar named desire" transports the play to the 21st century and finds the cast performing on a transparent, revolving set. the "new york times" calls this version a wounding portrait of communal loss. "street car" runs till june 4 at brooklyn's st. ann's warehouse. joining me is gillian anderson, ben foster and vanessa kirby. i am pleased to have each of them at this table, welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: how do you approach this character that a number of
actors, especially marlon brando have -- >> i suppose it's about actively forgetting that it was marked by kazan and brando. it casts such a long shadow. benedict an bruce said he wanted to explore the material in an out-of-time and was much more interested in the returning soldier aspect and that seemed like a new door we could unpack. >> rose: is it a role you jump at? >> i hadn't seen th the film. i hadn't seen the play in at least 15 years. by rereading it, it's daunting on paper. it's history is daunting. but mon reading it and talking with benedict, i felt we could find a new way in. >> rose: is blanch daunting? i don't know about daunting.
exciting, i think. i had wanted to do this for 30 years, and seems like it took that long to realize the production. i trusted benedict enough from the things that i had seen him district in the past to leave everything at the door and walk this completely with fresh eyes and glad that i started with a clean slate because we immediately just started from word one, punctuation one, to dig into it in a really forensic way. >> rose: what's the difference in a good stage director and a good film director? >> what i do know about benedict andrews is that he's a very, very smart man and he is very -- his interest is in the truth of whatever piece it is that he's working with.
so whether he contemporaryizes it or not, we are always digging into interaction of the text and what it's telling us every single moment and we move from truth to truth and fit doesn't fly we adjust it and that's part of the reincarnation is going back in and tweaking the little moments to historically build the relations. >> rose: vanessa, i think you said stella was avoiding reality. >> you know, it's easy to forget these they're sisters from the same place and this they've experienced the same history and they're just taking different parts and stella's run away in the same way blanch has found herself in an equally destructive situation, but that it's more accepted by society.
so in stanley, she can avoid and run away and deny the history, you know. she doesn't mention, she doesn't tell him. i always hear it in the scene where he says where are you from, blanch? laurel. it seems strange her husband doesn't even know really where stella's from. so right from the beginning, i was really aware that she had this history that she wasn't able to face and wasn't able to confront. >> rose: what's the set that is so revolutionary here? >> we do it in the round. it's in a rotation. >> rose: constantly revolving. constantly revolving at different speeds and directions. it's a transparent set. there are no walls. it's a lean, stark, metal outline of an apartment. >> it's an x-ray. >> rose: what does it say about a play -- tennessee
williams is 50 years old, yet its rale vanity, you're putting it in a contemporary setting, a different setting. it simply says it still speaks to all those issues that are part of the human experience, right? >> oh, yeah. i mean, it's about -- it's fear and shame and guilt and the ways that we -- >> rose: embarrassment. yep, and the ways we all try to deny the truth of ourselves, but also is our human nature to fight for one's own survival, whether it's stanley fighting for that or stella or blanch. tennessee talks about -- i can never remember what the words are, but he talks about the abuse and belittlement of the tender, and those are not the descriptives he uses. >> rose: but as good a playwright as tennessee williams
is, just look at the text and say this is all i need here. i don't need to go further. >> further into what the text says, going into the past based on what the text says and obviously, you know, the history at that time of the south and women's place in the world and what was expected of females at the time and the patriarchal society, et cetera, et cetera, particularly in the south at that time is all informative but the text is the thing. >> rose: and i grew up in the south and north carolina. i've known people like the characters at every stage of my life. there is always someone who's a very strong woman, also a woman who is somehow worldly in terms of her aspirations and in terms of what she reads, what she wants to do. >> i think, potentially, blanch had that potential, if it weren't for the course of events that happened, if it weren't for
her falling in love with a gay man very young and feeling responsible for his killing himself, and then what happened historically with their house, et cetera, if those events hadn't happened, she probably would have found a way to be a strong partner to someone. she's certainly outspoken enough in this incarnation of it that, even though -- she would have continued to be dependent upon people and her other half. i imagine she would not have held her tongue. >> so much of this is about trauma and posttraumatic stress, whether abevent happens or not happens, it's how we cope, and this play feels so much about unpacking the ideas of how we have been hurt and how we deal with those hurts and how do we push those wounds into each other. blanch is coming from a war, it seems. stanley is coming from silarno and these wounded warriors are
meeting in a living room, a bedroom. >> it makes me think a family is only as sick as the secret it keeps. the inability to talk about or express the pain and the trauma and the repression of all three of them from different capacities. and i think the running away from it i think is what the play -- it's like a tsunami that catches up with you and comes over you. you can't run, you know, and that's what the play is looking at. >> rose: there is a reference of stanley being april-like. why are you smiling, blanch? >> blanch refers to him as being like an april. >> rose: then a story of you looked at a video of silverbacks? >> well, sure. to turn himself into one. >> rose: why? (laughter) >> well, the play touches on so
many ideas, it seemed like a fair place to start. (laughter) was the beginning of man. >> rose: you went right to evolution, did you? >> that's what blanch says. blanch says he's like an april. >> from the stone age. he said stanley ca kawalski, bearing his kill from t jungle. he comes home every day with a package of meat they're going to cook. >> stanley doesn't like being called names. it's also a play of class. it's a play of magic and reality battling each other. it's also a battle of high-class, lower-class. so having the opportunity to look at apes and call it homework is not a bad life. >> rose: that's what you said about here --el embarrass you -- you said she's one of the most elegant and savage performers you've ever worked with.
>> it's true. >> rose: what does savage mean? >> you need to see it. >> rose: present. savage is present. >> there's a nimble quality and a ferocity to being present. anything can happen and staying in the game is -- you couldn't ask for something better with a dancing partner or a boxer. >> rose: or a boxer? very lucky. >> rose: do each of you know each other's lines and do you have to? >> i do now, i think. i've heard it so many times. >> rose: just by osmosis. yeah. i said we don't have to worry -- which we don't anymore because it's in our bodies.
(laughter) no, i think we are so -- it feels so supportive, it feels so connected. >> i'm never off -- i'm offstage once when i'm in a bathtub, but i'm in a bathtub on the set so the scene is happening right on the other side of the shower curtain and i realized how many times i actually do know your guys' lines without trying to, without realizing. i didn't know that. >> rose: is the london audience different than an american audience? >> yeah. very. >> rose: why? how? you look like you don't want to tell me. >> i prefer the american one. >> rose: you prefer the american one? >> yes. they seem less ready to judge. it's so funny, actually. i just finished a play myself the week before and came over. i really sensed the difference between the audiences. also as a company or the relationship, the dynamic between audience and actors, i think, is so -- it's the
vital -- it's like the arteries for the play, isn't it, the show. we've become one animal. we're talking about they as one. it's incredible. it's amazing how the minority can affect the majority and the particularly vocal group can spread and they will engage and become vocal. sometimes they feel standoffish. i wonder. but they're very sensitive. >> it's a very visceral and sexual production as well. there is a scene where these two were making love on the bed and the floor and blanch and mitch are on the stair case. and in london, i was aware of the fact more of the audience was wuching us on the stair case. in america, the audience are watching the two on the bed.
in england, it was a little like -- yeah. >> rose: does every good play affect you in a sense that somehow gives you insight about life that you didn't have, perhaps? >> yeah,ist a privilege of having an allotted time to meditate on a said material or practice it or explore it, hearing these words every night, it feels like a prayer, the way that someone may go up on a mountaintop or sit in a cabin or in the builderness, we go into a dark room every night and we consider these words in a tack tile, visceral way, and we may know each other's lines but in many ways we try to forget them to hear them anew. >> rose: and to hear the differences in the nuances and everything else. the awed yips affected by your mood and everything. >> by each other and the exchanges. >> some asked me, don't you get bored doing the same thing night after night? you can't because every moment is new and every night something is different about what happens.
>> and still finding stuff. truths in the moment and feeling like, you know, that's the way to say that particular line or going back to the text because something's not working and realizing that the pung punctuan is different than i had been saying it. >> rose: is it written better as a play than a film. >> yeah, i would say so. >> rose: having said that, marlon brando in a scene from the 1951 film. ♪ >> hey, stella! you quit that howling down there and go to bed! >> i want my clothes down here! you shut up! you're going to get the law! >> stella! they'll haul you in! get down here! you!
>> hey, stella! >> rose: mr. foster -- what a mug. what a mug. >> rose: he's a good looking guy. >> oh, my heavens. you can't beat that. you've got to go a different way. (laughter) >> rose: you don't want to be thinking about that when you're going your way. how is this more sexier? i like the idea. >> one of the things our director was playing with and one of the ways stella escapes is they have a very, very tangible sexual relationship, stanley and stella -- >> rose: tangible and tack tile. >> and the fact both women found comfort through sex. i'll let you speak to that. the minute stanley and blanch are in the room together, it's tangible. she undresses purposefully in
front of the poker players and stands in front of the light and she's con straintly flirting with stanley and these guys and they have a tangible, tactile, sexual relationship that plays out through the whole thing. >> i'm very blessed on the set. >> rose: sometimes you will watch a film and people will say there was nothing there, i couldn't feel why they were connected, how they were connected, what was going on. you just said the reverse of that, you can see. >> you have to provoke yourself in certain ways. every night is a new -- it's really fortunate to work with people that are appealing and energetic and have a life within themselves. that's appealing.
i prefer it when we have chemistry. it's less work for you to do when you don't have it. >> rose: here's a clip from cate blanchette on the program talking about the cultural significance of "a streetcar named desire." she blade blanch in the sidney theaters production in 2009. here it is. >> i think there are very few theatrical works, very few plays which exist as absolutely in the world of cinema as they do in the theatrical world, and this is a masterpiece in both works, and his work was clearly groundbreaking but also the performances that were elicited. i think it's a play that we all they'll we -- feel we know perhaps better than we do because it exists in the shadow of the film. >> rose: hmm... it's interesting because what was your question about whether this would exist as strongly in
film. i was thinking about whether this particularly version of this particularly production could have the impact on film it does in the theater. i mean, people leave in tears, balling their eyes out, they can't leave their seat. they're completely racked. i don't know whether a film version would deliver an audience to that same place, and that's part of the tragedy of this and the nature of this particular production, and if you can't do that, then really what's the point? the point is this moment of it here, life for the audience to experience. and i would question whether it would. >> rose: how would you measure this opportunity against all the other things you have done? >> this is probably the hardest. >> rose: hardest. yeah. i mean, she's supposed to be hamlet for women, and at the beginning it certainly feels
insurmountable. it feels impossible. you know, until you get your rhythm in it, the play can sit on your shoulders and you are under it and that is a terrifying feeling. >> rose: thank you all for coming. it's a pleasure to have you here. i can't wait to get to the theater. i don't have that much time but i'll get there. it's a magnificent production and will be there till june 4. i have one silly question, is this story about james bond? because i'm looking and saying am i looking at the next james bond? >> it was started by somebody creating a pretty cool poster with me and it's just got an lot of attention. it means absolutely nothing at all. >> rose: means it's not going to happen. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> rose: thank you for joining us. we'll see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com.
woman: it kind of was, like, the bang that set off the night. man: that is the funkiest restaurant. thomas: the honey walnut prawns will make your insides smile. woman #2: more tortillas, please! man #2: what is comfort food if it isn't gluten and grease? man #3: i love crème brûlée. woman #3: the octopus should have been, like, quadrapus, because it was really small. sbrocco: and you know that when you split something, all the calories evaporate, and then there's none. whalen: that's right.