* Caligari 2009 - Lul 2010
Internet2 Day presentation *
ShowCases: 3 Sisters, Mikado, 12th Night, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest, Dangerous Liaisons, Don Juan
prof. Anatoly Antohin Theatre UAF AK 99775 USA (907)474-5253
The action of the play centers on Tom, his mother Amanda, and his sister Laura. In 1937 they live together in a small apartment in St. Louis. Their father abandoned them years earlier, and Tom is now the family's breadwinner. He works at the Continental Shoemakers warehouse during the day, but he disappears nightly "to the movies." Amanda is a loving mother, but her meddling and nagging are hard to live with for Tom, who is a grown man and who is earning the wages that support their family. Laura is a frightened and terribly shy girl, with unbelievably weak nerves. She is also slightly lame in one leg, and she seldom leaves the apartment of her own volition. She busies herself caring for her "glass menagerie," a collection of delicate little glass animals.
Amanda dreams constantly of the long-ago days when she was a young Southern belle and the darling of her small town's social scene. She enrolled Laura in classes at Rubicam's Business College, hoping that a career in business would make Laura self-sufficient. She discovers that Laura stopped attending class a long time ago, because the speed tests on the typewriter terrified her. After the fiasco at Rubicam's Amanda gives up on a business career for Laura and puts all her hopes into finding a husband for her.
Amanda's relationship with Tom is difficult. Tom longs to be free‹like his father‹to abandon Amanda and Laura and set off into the world. He has stayed because of his responsibility for them, but his mother's nagging and his frail sister's idiosyncrasies make the apartment a depressing and oppressive place. Tom also hates his job. His only escape comes from his frequent visits to the movies, but his nightly disappearances anger and baffle Amanda. He fights with Amanda all the time, and the situation at home grows more unbearable.
Amanda, sensing that Tom wants to leave, tries to make a deal with him. If Tom and Amanda can find a husband for Laura, a man who can take care of her, then Tom will be free of his responsibility to them. Amanda asks Tom to bring home gentlemen callers to meet Laura. Tom brings home Jim O'Connor, a fellow employee at the warehouse. He is an outgoing and enthusiastic man on whom Laura had a terrible crush back in high school. Jim chats with Laura, growing increasingly flirtatious, until he finally kisses her. Then he admits that he has a fiancé and cannot call again. For fragile Laura, the news is devastating.
Amanda is furious, and after Jim leaves she accuses Tom of playing a cruel joke on them. Amanda and Tom have one final fight, and not long afterward Tom leaves for good. In his closing monologue, he admits that he cannot escape the memory of his sister. Though he abandoned her years ago, Laura still haunts him.
The Glass Menagerie is loosely autobiographical. The characters all have some basis in the real-life family of Tennessee Williams: Edwina is the hopeful and demanding Amanda, Rose is the frail and shy Laura (whose nickname, "Blue Roses," refers directly back to Williams' real-life sister), and distant and cold Cornelius is the faithless and absent father. Tom is Williams' surrogate. Williams actually worked in a shoe warehouse in St. Louis, and there actually was a disastrous evening with the only gentleman caller who ever came for Rose. Thomas was also Tennessee Williams' real name, and the name "Thomas" means twin‹making Tom the surrogate not only for Williams but also possibly for the audience. He is our eye into the Wingfields' situation. His dilemma forms a central conflict of the play, as he faces an agonizing choice between responsibility for his family and living his own life.
The play is replete with lyrical symbolism. The glass menagerie, in its fragility and delicate beauty, is a symbol for Laura. She is oddly beautiful and, like her glass pieces, easy to destroy. The fire escape is most closely linked to Tom's character and to the theme of escape. Laura stumbles on the escape, while Tom uses it to get out of the apartment and into the outside world. He goes down the fire escape one last time at the end of the play, and he stands on the landing during his monologues. His position there metaphorically illustrates his position between his family and the outside world, between his responsibility and the need to live his own life.
The play is non-naturalistic, playing with stage conventions and making use of special effects like music and slide projections. By writing a "memory play," Tennessee Williams freed himself from the restraints of naturalistic theatre. The theme of memory is important: for Amanda, memory is a kind of escape. For Tom, the older Tom who narrates the events of the play to the audience, memory is the thing that cannot be escaped: he is still haunted by memories of the sister whom he abandoned years ago.
[ ClassicNote ]
Notes are lost, read Williams' plays!Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (Broadway Theatre Archive) (1973)
THE GLASS MENAGERIEA Memory Play in Seven Scenes by Tennessee Williams
THE CHARACTERSAMANDA WINGFIELD-- the mother
A little woman of great but confused vitality clinging frantically to another time and place. Her characterization must be carefully created, not copied from type. She is not paranoiac, but her life is paranoia. There is much to admire in Amanda, and as much to love and pity as there is to laugh at. Certainly she has endurance and a kind of heroism, and though her foolishness makes her unwittingly cruel at times, there is tenderness in her slight person.
LAURA WINGFIELD-- her daughter
Amanda, having failed to establish contact with reality, continues to live vitally in her illusions, but Laura's situation is even graver. A childhood illness has left her crippled, one leg slightly shorter than the other, and held in a brace. This defect need not be more than suggested on the stage. Stemming from this, Laura's separation increases till she is like a piece of her own glass collection, too exquisitely fragile to move from the shelf.
TOM WINGFIELD-- her son
And the narrator of the play. A poet with a job in a warehouse. His nature is not remorseless, but to escape from a trap he has to act without pity.
JIM O'CONNOR-- the gentleman caller
A nice, ordinary, young man.
Scene: An Alley in St. Louis
Time: Now and the Past
PART I. Preparation for a Gentleman Caller
PART II. The Gentleman calls
Go to SCRIPT.VTHEATRE.NET!
I don't know what to tell you, boys and girls. To promice that one day I will spend some time (hours), fixing the Menagerie pages? I think about it every time I teach Williams -- and every time I fall in love with this play. Maybe I should send you to Dramatic Literature Forum to read te student papers... Or you can subscribe yourself and post your own thoughts.
If I will another life, I promice I will fix the pages... The Glass Menagerie No play in the modern theatre has so captured the imagination and heart of the American public as Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie. Menagerie was Williams's first popular success and launched the brilliant, if somewhat controversial, career of our pre-eminent lyric playwright. Since its premiere in Chicago in 1944, with the legendary Laurette Taylor in the role of Amanda, the play has been the bravura piece for great actresses from Jessica Tandy to Joanne Woodward, and is studied and performed in classrooms and theatres around the world. The Glass Menagerie (in the reading text the author preferred) is now available only in its New Directions Paperbook edition. A new introduction by prominent Williams scholar Robert Bray, editor of The Tennessee Williams Annual Review, reappraises the play more than half a century after it won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award: "More than fifty years after telling his story of a family whose lives form a triangle of quiet desperation, Williams's mellifluous voice still resonates deeply and universally." This edition of The Glass Menagerie also includes Williams's essay on the impact of sudden fame on a struggling writer, "The Catastrophe of Success," as well as a short section of Williams's own "Production Notes." The cover features the classic line drawing by Alvin Lustig, originally done for the 1949 New Directions edition.
Katharine Hepburn, one of the great American actresses, stars in this film adaptation of one of the greatest American plays, Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie. Hepburn plays Amanda Wakefield, a faded Southern belle now living in a small urban apartment, where she suffocates her two children--her restless son Tom (a very young Sam Waterston) and her painfully shy daughter Laura (Joanna Miles)--with her incessant mixture of insistent cheer and guilt. After much prodding from Amanda, Tom finally brings home a friend from his workplace, in the hopes that he might strike up a romance with reclusive Laura. The result is one of the sweetest and most heartbreaking scenes ever written. Hepburn's steely will and sudden vulnerability make her ideal for the domineering mother, but the entire cast--including Michael Moriarty as the "gentleman caller"--is superb; Moriarty and Miles deservedly won Emmy awards for their performances.
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