by Tennessee Williams
March 29 - April 20,
Directed by Terry Veal
THE GLASS MENAGERIE is a memory play that recounts the break-up of a family living in a tenement in St. Louis in the 1930's. The action is the son's recollection of
events that happened ten years earlier.
Tom Wingfield, a would-be poet, works in a shoe warehouse to help support the family, but longs to travel the world. His frail sister Laura is a young woman who loves to tend her collection of glass figurines, but real-life encounters make her sick with fright. Their domineering mother Amanda, a one-time Southern debutante who pines over her lost youth and bad marriage, frets over their living conditions and her children's futures. She nags Tom into bringing home "a gentleman caller" for Laura. When the date goes horribly wrong, it leads to a disastrous family split.
Even after ten years, Tom is still haunted by the memories of his family,
especially his sister Laura who was so painfully shy and walked with a limp. Ultimately, Williams paints a portrait of a family too fragile for life's harsh realities.
Tennessee Williams made no secret of the autobiographical nature of
THE GLASS MENAGERIE. At an early age his family moved from Mississippi to St. Louis, the setting for his first success. His father was a shoe salesman and, like the character of Tom, Williams worked in a shoe warehouse. Like Amanda in the play, his mother would roust him out of bed for work with the refrain, "Rise and shine! I said rise and shine!" His real-life family was not as poverty-stricken as in the play, but he considered their apartment and the alley his sister's room looked out on to be dreary. Like Laura, his sister collected glass animals, and Williams spent a lot of time in her room where she kept them. The little glass animals, Williams said, "stood for all the small and tender things that relieve the austere patterns of life." In a 1945 interview, Williams talked about them from a different viewpoint: "As I thought about it, the glass animals came to represent the fragile, delicate ties that must be broken, that you inevitably break, when you try to fulfill yourself." In any case, the glass figurines and his family life in St. Louis were true inspiration for his play and its
Considered by some theater aficionados to be among the ten best American plays ever written,
THE GLASS MENAGERIE won Williams the Best Play award from the New York Drama Critics Circle in 1945 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize (which went to Mary Chase's "Harvey"). Although it seems like a departure for Carpenter Square Theatre, which is known for producing more contemporary plays, it has been on their list of favorites for many years. The theater's Artistic Director Rhonda Clark said, "Since we have been performing in the intimate arena theater at Stage Center, we've thought time and again that it was an ideal space for audiences to experience Williams' most intimate full-length play. We've been interested in doing an occasional classic in our regular season that would interest high school students and teachers. This season seemed like the right time and
THE GLASS MENAGERIE seemed like the right play. Terry Veal, a long-time director and actor for
CST, who is also a high school drama teacher, is passionate about this particular piece, and we said 'Go for it'."
The work of Tim Brown, of Artistic Glass Studio in Edmond, will be featured in the production. He is creating many of the glass animals needed for the play, in particular the unicorns. A unicorn must be broken in every performance, as part of the action. Mr. Brown will also be on-hand to demonstrate his glass artistry at the evening performance on April 13 and the special matinee on April 18, where audiences will be able to watch his process preceding the performance and at intermission. He will also have some pieces on display.