Pioneer Theatre Company will be following their premier performance of The Last Ship with a familiar American classic: The Glass Menagerie.
The play, written by Tennessee Williams in 1944, follows the story of the Wingfield family in St. Louis. Tom Wingfield, who acts as narrator, reminds the audience that what they are about to see is based on the memories of his mother Amanda and his sister Laura, and that because of this the events may not be entirely accurate. Amanda, a former Southern belle, shares her apartment with her two children, even though both children are in their twenties. She longs for the comfort of her former high-class life, but her need to continue caring for her disabled daughter, Laura, keeps her grounded in the apartment. Amanda remains preoccupied with finding her a “gentleman caller” while her brother struggles to support the family. Ever since she dropped out of school, Laura focuses almost all of her energy in arranging and cleaning a collection of small glass animals. Trouble arrives when Jim, Tom’s acquaintance from work, comes to call on Laura. Despite the high hopes that Amanda has of Jim raising the family back to their former glory, the gentleman caller may not be all that he appears.
As a memory play, the events are presented through a haze of nostalgia and history. Tom describes himself as a type of magician as he crafts the narrative, but unlike a stage magician, who “gives you an illusion that has the appearance of truth,” Tom chooses to give the audience “the truth in an unpleasant disguise of an illusion.” Even though the story may feel like a fairy tale, the darker truth hides just beneath the surface.
The story of The Glass Menagerie feels highly reminiscent of playwright Tennessee Williams’ life, with characters structured similarly to his own family and his mother in particular. If the name Tennessee Williams sounds familiar, it is due to the fact that he went on to be considered one of the three foremost playwrights in American theater during the twentieth century. Over the course of his career, he produced works including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Sweet Bird of Youth.
Despite some initial apprehension from critics, this play sparked the beginning of Williams’ career.
For the production at Pioneer Theatre, the cast is made up of Nance Williamson (Amanda Wingfield), Hanley Smith (Laura Wingfield), Zachary Prince (Tom Wingfield), and Logan James Hall (Jim O’Connor). Director Mary B. Robinson returns to Pioneer after directing An Inspector Calls (2015) and Of Mice and Men (2012). Tickets are available at www.pioneertheatrecompany.com or at their box office. Through ArtsPass, students are eligible to rush tickets one hour before curtain for $5 using their UCard.
The Glass Menagerie opens on October 21st and runs through November 5th.