The Glass Menagerie
Written by: Tennessee Williams
Directed by: Paul Mason Barnes
Tom has escaped the prison of illusion that was his family, but can he truly leave behind those he loves? Tennessee Williams’ American masterpiece explores memory, illusion and the complex web that love can weave.
Tennessee Williams’ play, The Glass Menagerie, changed the face of the American Theatre when it made its Broadway debut in 1945. Besides reviving the career of the great American actress, Laurette Taylor, it secured Williams’ place in the pantheon of classic American playwrights alongside Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller. Although Williams’ employment of what is now loosely called “meta-theatre” techniques seemed startlingly fresh at the time, the sort of direct address through which Tom Wingfield becomes narrator as well as participant, dates back to the Greeks and Shakespeare, and was refined in the last century by Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill, and Thornton Wilder (among others). What set apart Williams and The Glass Menagerie was the playwright’s unique voice . . . the poetic realism for which he became known, his Southern sensibilities, and his willingness to embrace human foibles and our darker truths in a way that remains arresting and invigorating. The Glass Menagerie led to other great successes, most famously A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, both of which have taken their place alongside the earlier play as cornerstones of 20th Century American playwriting.
Before the play begins:
16 years before the play takes place, Amanda Wingfield, raised in genteel circumstances in cut the Tennessee and Mississippi, has moved with her husband, son, and daughter to the bustling midwestern metropolis of St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly after their arrival, Amanda’s husband deserts her cut: and their children, leaving Amanda to fend for herself while doing her best to raise Tom, her restless, artistic son, and Laura, her fragile and introverted daughter whose shyness is exacerbated and intensified by the lingering physical effects of a childhood illness.
- Williams wrote and rewrote The Glass Menagerie in numerous forms before it achieved its present shape.
- The play, drawing in part from Williams’ own life, takes place during and is set against the Great Depression.
- The spectre of World War II hangs over the story.
- Rose Williams, Williams’ sister and the model for the character of Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, was one of the first people in the United States to receive a pre-frontal lobotomy. Williams was haunted by his sister’s fate for the rest of his life.
- The Glass Menagerie made its debut during what is loosely called “the golden years” in the American Theatre: the 1940’s and ‘50’s, when Lee Strasburg’s Actors Studio was training a new generation of American actors including James Dean, Paul Newman, Joann Woodward, Ben Gazzara, Shelley Winters, Lee Grant, Kim Stanley, and Marlon Brando.
Amanda Wingfield – Leslie Brott*
Jim O’Conner – Andrew Carlson
Laura Wingfield – Stephanie Lambourn*
Tom Wingfield – John Maltese
Amanda Wingfield – Rosemary Brownlow
Jim O’Connor – Brian White
Laura Wingfield – Caroline Amos
Tom Wingfield – Andrew Carlson
Directing Intern – Max Friedman
Supervising Stage Manager – Daniel Munson*
Stage Manager – Kate Ocker
Stage Management Intern – Ellen McCauley
Scenic Designer – R. Eric Stone**
Sound Designer – Matthew Tibbs
Lighting Designer – Lonnie Alcaraz**
Properties Director – Nikki Kulas***
Costume Designer – Margaret Weedon
*Denotes membership in Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional stage actors and stage managers.
**Denotes membership in United Scenic Artists
***Denotes membership in S*P*A*M (Society of Properties Artisan Managers).