Stevenson University’s theatre and media performance department opened its production of “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams on Nov. 10, 2016, with a simple production that reflects Williams’ vision of reality.
“The Glass Menagerie” takes place in 1939 America and revolves around a family of three, a mother with her daughter and son, who all struggle with accepting reality.
The story is told through the narration of Tom Wingfield (Adam Vaughn) who is the younger brother and breadwinner of the family. His older sister, Laura Wingfield (Victoria Caldwell) is a sickeningly shy girl who simply looks at glass animals all day. The mother, Amanda Wingfield (Chris Roberts) just wants her children to succeed, even if she has to control their lives to make that happen.
The narration through Tom’s memories is a huge part in Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” and is used well in this production. In one scene, Tom vaguely describes his friend Jim O’Conner (Jack Rizzo) to Amanda; however, in the narration afterwards, Tom explains his relationship with Jim, creating a separation from what actually happened and what goes on in his head.
This production depended heavily on each actor’s and actress’s voice as there were no microphones. Despite the volume of their voices being great in the latter half of the play, the actors and actresses started off very quietly.
In several scenes, Amanda had to yell from off stage, which made it hard for the audience to comprehend what she was saying. There were also some other hard-to-hear scenes where music was playing and a character was speaking at the same time.
Tom is described in the latter half of the play as an aspiring poet, but Williams barely touches on this character point in the early scenes. Tom’s interest in poetry is seen only was when Amanda reprimands him about the names of obscure poets and writers that she has found in his belongings.
Another argument with Amanda leads the audience to learn that Laura’s daily activities include walking around in the park, playing old records and looking at her glass animal collection. However, in this scene, the notion of Laura going out and walking overshadows the idea of looking at glass figurines all day, which creates confusion later when Laura explains to Jim about how she just looks at glass animals in her free time.
There were a few mistakes in lines and dialogue in the performance, which is expected on opening night. None of them were distractions.
“The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams is considered a classic and has been done over and over again. However, a play can turn out great when kept simple.
This production will be playing until Nov. 19, with shows at 7 p.m. in the Inscape Theatre.