Dysfunctional families...Tennessee Williams mined elements of his own childhood—a distant father, a fragile sister, and his own struggles to be a writer––and brought them to the stage in that great American classic, The Glass Menagerie.
This week Lean Ensemble Theater pulls back the curtain to reveal the Wingfield family with all its wounds, deceptions, dreams, and desires in Depression-era St. Louis. Matriarch Amanda Wingfield is short on money but long on memories of her Southern girlhood when she dazzled the boys with her charm. If only her son Tom would find a gentleman caller to sweep her timid daughter Laura off her feet, the family could escape their genteel poverty and resume their rightful place in the world.
Tom Wingfield mirrors the playwright’s own past. (Williams’s real birth name was Tom and like Menagerie's Tom, he yearned to escape a dreary job in a shoe company for a literary career.) Both author and character feel guilty about their sister’s plight, and in real life, Williams despaired because he couldn’t save his sister Rose who underwent a pre-frontal lobotomy.
Lean Ensemble Theater dramaturg, Katie Rasor offers some insight into Williams’s own dreams for the play. She points out that Williams revealed that Amanda [played by Jenny Zmarzly in the ensemble’s current production] “… represents the natural elegance of the old South. My main theme is a defense of the romantic attitude toward life, a violent protest against the things that destroy it. Amanda represents that.”
Rasor also points to a statement Williams made to Time Magazine on the play's 1944 Broadway opening: “In [The Glass Menagerie] I said all the nice things I have to say about people. The future things will be harsher.”
The Glass Menagerie. Four performances only! Audience talkbacks with members of the Lean Ensemble following each show. October 22-24 at 7:30 PM. Sunday matinee October 25 at 2 PM. Main Street Theatre 3000 Main Street, Hilton Head Island. Tickets: $40 evening performances; $35 matinee; $15 students/active military. Discounted subscriptions to all three plays available. To purchase call 843.715.6676. For more information visit www.leanensemble.org