Throughout the 1930s, Amerihave the right to theater was transforming right into a major art create. Eugene O’Neill—the father of Amerideserve to theater—was writing vital realistic dramas as Broadmethod played hold to a mix of comedies, light-hearted musicals, and plays that took on social problems choose unemployment and inequality. Then in 1945, Mississippi’s own Tennessee Williams traveled north to New York City with his lyrical, poetic The Glass Menagerie and adjusted how Amerideserve to plays looked and sounded.

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Tennesview Williams produced a vivid actors of outcasts and escapists—personalities who create beautiful fantasy civilizations in order to survive their hard and also sometimes ugly stays. Yet, despite their circumstances, they sheight in beautiful, lyrical language. “I’m a poet,” Williams when shelp, “and then I put the poeattempt in the drama.” He also provided unstandard techniques—impressionistic lighting, stories told in flashago, unusual set design—to get to what he shelp was “a closer method to the reality.”

Son of the South

Thomas Lanier Williams was born in 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi. His father traveled commonly for a shoe company, leaving Williams, his older sister Rose, and his younger brvarious other Dakin, to be increased by their overprotective mother, Edwina. Only 16 months apart, Williams bonded strongly with the shy, reclusive Rose.

When the family relocated to urban St. Louis, Missouri, Williams felt like an outcast in institution and experienced from bouts of depression. It was hard for him to change to the city and also he began to create bereason, he shelp, “I found life unsatismanufacturing facility.” In truth, life was difficult for the entire household. His parents’ marriage was rocky, and also Rose—suffering from schizophrenia—ultimately underwent a lobotomy, an invasive brain operation that was thought to be a cure at the time. Rose was never the very same after the procedure.

As Williams gained older, he studied poetry, functioned odd work, attended a number of various colleges, and also created plays—numerous of which were developed at the University of Iowa. A southerner by birth, he normally set the majority of of his plays in the Amerideserve to South. Basing his personalities on his life and the lives of his household, the “outsider” Williams turned his sense of isolation and also pain into crushing words. Then at 28, he made a decision to relocate to New Orleans and fundamentally recreate himself, transforming his initially name from Thomregarding Tenneswatch.

Throughout his life, Williams struggbrought about fit in and discover some sort of emotional peace. He turned to alcohol and also drugs to dull his pain—even after he had actually end up being a effective playwappropriate. Williams as soon as said that “success and also failure are equally terrible.” Sadly, he never delighted in his fame and also wealth.

Over the course of his lengthy career, this 1979 Kennedy Center Honoree won nearly every major theater award for drama including the Pulitzer Prize—and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980. He stays one of America’s many famous and generally created playwrights. Tennescheck out Williams passed away of complications from drug and also alcohol abusage on February 25, 1983.

“Truth in the Pleasant Disguise of Memories”


In The Glass Menagerie, the gritty story of a Depression-era family members is told via poetic language, dreamchoose music, and also nonrealistic set style. Nothing is exactly actual. The audience watches much of the onstage action through a thin, semi-transparent curtain referred to as a scrim. Williams intended that the curtain depict “an setting of memory.” In reality, Williams allows us know immediately that the play will certainly be dreamlike—and also then tells us specifically exactly how the play works.

The play opens up with Tom Wingfield—the narrator and Williams’ change ego—informing us: "Yes, I have actually tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He provides you illusion that has the appearance of fact. I offer you fact in the pleasant disguise of illusion." With these words, Williams clues us right into his creating process.

Meet the Real Williams Family

Williams’ autobiographical play is collection during the Depression in a lower-middle course St. Louis area, similar to the community in which Williams thrived up. The Wingfield family—mommy Amanda, son Tom, and daughter Laura—live in a dim, cramped apartment that faces an alley, as did the Williams family members.

But the similarities in between the real Williams household and also fictional Wingfield household don’t end there:

The fictional Tom—prefer the young Williams—dreams of being a writer, however works at a dreary shoe wareresidence and also longs to escape. (Interestingly, Williams worked for a shoe agency, just prefer his father did).Williams’ father was lacking a lot of the moment. The fictional Mr. Wingfield has actually abandoned his family members and shows up onphase just as a portrait.Like Williams’ mother Edwina, Amanda runs the family members and clings to memories of her Southern youth in order to escape the reality of her life.Both Edwina and Amanda were from well-off families and proud of their Southern heritage.Both women married men that came from less affluent family members. Both men were salesguys.Edwina was overprotective of her children—just like Amanda.Williams’ sister Rose was shy, in poor health and wellness, and also had actually a glass collection—just favor the fictional Laura.

The comparison between Rose and also the fictional Laura is specifically heartbreaking. It was Rose’s schizophrenia that haunted Williams and also comes up time and also again in his plays. He wrote The Glass Menagerie soon after Rose was compelled to have a lobotomy. The procedure left her bacount practical and also she invested the remainder of her life institutionalized. Williams never forgave himself for not protecting Rose from having actually the procedure. His guilt clearly runs deeply through The Glass Menagerie—specifically at the end of the play when Tom says: “Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, however I am even more faithful than I intfinished to be!”

Why the Play Endures: Story

Anthony Ross,Laurette Taylor,Eddie DowlingandJulie Haydonin the Broadmethod production ofThe Glass Menagerie(1945)

The Glass Menagerie unfolds as Tom Wingfield remembers his previous, his mother Amanda, and also sister Laura. There is no father in the play, as Amanda’s husband deserted the family years before. In reality, the only sign of Tom’s long-lacking father is an substantial portrait of him that hangs in the Wingarea apartment.

Amanda longs for her youth and constantly talks around the string of gentlemales callers that would generally visit her when she was a young Southern belle. And she is obsessed via finding a suitor for Laura, her crippled, insecure daughter. In order to disclose Laura to the broader world, Amanda has actually enrolled her in a service college. But Laura, self-mindful about her limp, desires nopoint even more than to remain residence and spfinish time with her collection of tiny glass animals—her glass menagerie.

Amanda learns that Laura has actually dropped out of company college and also has actually been wandering the city, also shy to proceed her researches. Alarmed, Amanda decides that Laura’s last hope for a effective life is to get married. She tells Tom to uncover an ideal young guy for Laura. He renders plans to lug residence Jim, an acquaintance from occupational. Amanda is thrilled and plans a dinner for the 4 of them. Laura conveniently realizes that Jim is the boy whom she loved in high school—though Jim never before also noticed her. After dinner, Jim and also Laura are left alone in the living room, talking intimately. They dance, and also Jim accidentally knocks over and breaks one of Laura’s glass animals—a unicorn. Jim kisses Laura, then admits that he has a severe girlfriend. Laura is devastated, but gives Jim the damaged unicorn as a souvenir of their evening together.

Amanda blames Tom for introducing Laura to an engaged guy. As Amanda comforts Laura, Tom measures onto the fire escape to watch them. Will he finally leave his household when and also for all? Will Amanda and Laura proceed to live in their suffocating dream-world? Will this household ever tell their keys and truths to each other?

Or are they doomed to continue to delude each other—and also themselves?

Why the Play Endures: Production

The Glass Menagerie is taken into consideration to be Williams’ masterpiece not just for its story and characters, but also bereason of its inventive, theatrical aspects including:

The play’s form and also framework.Tom, the play’s narrator, directly addresses the audience at the beginning of the play. (This is periodically called “breaking the fourth wall.”) He likewise directs some activity from the stage. For instance, simply before Amanda delivers a monologue around her gentlemales callers, Tom “motions for music and also a spot of light on Amanda.”Language.The personalities sheight in lyrical, poetic language. The characters are so self-deluded that they can only soptimal in a heightened, sophisticated means. At one allude, Amanda tells Tom, “I know your ambitions carry out not lie in the wareresidence, that like everybody in the whole wide world—you"ve had actually to—make sacrifices, but—Tom—Tom—life"s not simple, it calls for—Spartan endurance!”Metaphor.The fire escape outside the Wingarea apartment is an allegory (or a symbol) for something else. In his phase directions, Williams tells us that the fire escape is “a framework whose name is a touch of accidental poetic reality, for all of these expensive buildings are always burning through the slow and also implacable fires of human desperation.” Tom often goes on the fire escape to smoke, foreshadowing his last escape. Another metaphor is Laura’s unicorn. It’s unexplained, rare, and also delicate—simply like Laura. After Jim accidentally breaks the unicorn, it looks simply like an simple horse—and also Laura has actually no usage for it anymore. She provides the ordinary-looking horse to the plain Jim and also retreats right into her fantasy civilization of the glass menagerie.Visuals. Williams renders usage of projections—of both photos and also words—that talk about much of the action as it happens. The projections were had in the play’s 1944 Chicearlier premiere, however were not provided in the original Broadway manufacturing in 1945. Descriptions of the projections show up in the publiburned script.Lighting. Williams is incredibly specific about the lighting architecture provided in the play. In the play’s opening, Tom tells us, “Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentipsychological, it is not realistic.”Music. A particular tune (dubbed “The Glass Menagerie”) recurs throughout the play. The piece was written particularly for the play. Sometimes the characters hear the music…and also periodically they don’t. In the play’s original production notes, Williams claims that the music “serves as a threview of connection and allusion between the narrator with his separate allude in time and also area and the topic of his story.” And as Tom claims in the opening of the play, “In memory, everything appears to happen to music.”
Find Out More

The Glass Menagerie has actually been produced for the stage many times, yet also for the display. Below are some of the more notable productions.

The Glass Menagerie - Act One (1964)

Starring Jessica Tandy, Montgomery Clift, Julie Harris and also David Wayne. Directed By Howard Sackler. Recorded in 1964 by Caemdon Records for the Theatre Recording Society.

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The Glass Menagerie - Act Two (1964)

The Glass Menagerie - Act Two (1964)

Starring Jessica Tandy, Montgomery Clift, Julie Harris and also David Wayne. Directed By Howard Sackler. Recorded in 1964 by Caemdon Records for the Theatre Recording Society.

CBS Playhouse: The Glass Menagerie (1966)

CBS Playhouse: The Glass Menagerie (1966)

Shirley Booth ... The MotherHal Holbrook ... Her SonBarbara Loden ... Her DaughterPat Hingle ... The Gentleman Caller

Interpreting Tennesview Williams (Working In The Theatre #331)

Interpreting Tennescheck out Williams (Working In The Theatre #331)

A amazing one-time-just meeting of cast members from two concurrent Williams revivals on Broadway—Natasha Richardchild, John C. Reilly and also Chris Bauer of A Streetcar Named Desire and also Jessica Lange and also Christian Slater on of The Glass Menagerie. Originally videotaped - April, 2005