Apr. 14 - Apr. 24, 2022
Amanda Wingfield is a faded remnant of Southern gentility who now lives in a dingy St. Louis apartment with her son, Tom, and her daughter, Laura, who has a physical handicap and debilitating shyness. The father has left home; Tom supports his mother and sister with a shoe-factory job he finds unbearable. When Amanda convinces Tom to bring home from his workplace a “gentleman caller” for Laura, the illusions that Tom, Amanda, and Laura have each created in order to make life bearable collapse about them.
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Marcus McQuirter
A Word from the Director
Tennessee Williams’s Glass Menagerie is one of those plays. Its language is beautifully crafted. Its characters are interesting and complex. Its pretext—a play that is a memory told to the audience by a narrator named Tom— encourages a fantastic blend of realism and a long list of non-realisms. It’s about a family in an apartment in a tenement building in St Louis, Missouri in the fall of 1936 and the spring of 1937. But it’s also a memory, and about remembering, and about the danger and comfort that remembering affords. It’s about individuals and the societies that produced them. It’s about a lot, yet constructed with elegant simplicity.
One of the things I love about this play is the portrait the playwright paints. In this portrait Williams offers us a family struggling to maintain its integrity even as the world presses in around it. They stew in a cauldron of economic instability, set on a hearth of worldwide conflagration. A world lit by lightning, as Tom describes it. As Tom looks forward to what the world will become, the characters in Menagerie also look back at what was. Therein Williams unearths a dynamic source of dramatic tension. Conflict in Glass often centers on the collision between what was and what will be: Tom’s antagonism with Amanda; Amanda’s exertions to direct Laura’s future; Laura’s lingering wounds from childhood; Jim’s longing for the status he enjoyed as a high school super star. For the Wingfields, the past is clear crystal; the future is obscure and ominous; the present is thoroughly unexamined and left to wither to dust.
Perhaps this is the lesson Williams offers us. While he gives us tragedy in The Glass Menagerie, its moments of joy and hope, fleeting to be sure, illuminate our condition nonetheless. Joy twinkles into focus when these characters exist in the present, open their eyes, and see what is before them. When they do not, they find themselves unable to complete the circuit and the lights go out on them all. The world is a scary place, even more so when one is sitting alone in the dark.
Nearly eight decades have passed since Williams wrote this play. Yet we find ourselves in a world of war, absence, loss, uncertainty, and ever-present doom.
How does one surmount these challenges? For some, a retreat into the glorious past provides respite, purpose, and instructions for living. Others slip into the shadowed, velour seating of late-night movie houses (or Netflix binges), or blend against the back wall of dancehalls and night clubs to watch others living their lives. A few plunge into fantasies of their own creation, building narratives around twinkling yet still inanimate items that mesmerize the eye and occupy the imagination. Of course, none find what they need in these things. As Williams depicts, it is imminently possible to be lonely while surrounded by others. To lack amid over abundance. Perhaps the lesson Williams invites us to understand is that we should look for the light in the people around us. See them, as wondrously fragile as they are, and care for them. Because those exquisitely unique creatures that we so frequently discount as “weird” or “just not right,” might in the end allow us to kindle a flame when the world grows dim.
The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee Williams
Austin Community College
April 14 - April 24, 2022
ACC Acting Studio
Building 4000, Room 4.120.15
6101 Highand Campus Drive
Austin, TX, 78752
April 14th-April 24th, 2022
Audience limited to 50 per night.
Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sunday, April 24 at 2 PM (no performance on Easter Sunday, April 17)
Black Box Theatre in the Highland Campus Building 2000
The Highland Campus is located at 6101 Airport Blvd, Austin TX 78752. Our physical address is 6101 Airport Blvd. However, we encourage you to park in the large parking garage near Clayton Lane and Wilhelmina Delco Drive.
For tickets contact Marcus McQuirter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Audiences limited to 50 per performance.