Starting Thursday and running through May 2, the reliably excellent Ensemble Theatre Company will mount a production of Tennessee Williams’ breakthrough drama The Glass Menagerie (1945), directed by Jonathan Fox, and starring Joe Delafield (Tom Wingfield), Sara Botsford (Amanda Wingfield), Erin Pineda (Laura Wingfield) and Joel J. Gelman (Jim O’Connor, the “Gentleman Caller”).
Based on a 1938 short story, The Glass Menagerie was first written as a screenplay, The Gentleman Caller, in 1941, but it was never produced. Williams turned it into a play, gave it its current name and it opened in Chicago in 1944.
The response of Chicago critics was so enthusiastic that the play — Williams’ sixth — was brought the next year to Broadway, where it won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award.
From that moment until his death 38 years later, Williams was a force to be reckoned with in American theater.
The Glass Menagerie sounds a consistent theme of the playwright, the tragedy of a fragile, beautiful personality cracking under the stress of everyday life. Most Williams scholars agree that the character of Laura Wingfield, like Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire and Catharine Holly in Suddenly, Last Summer — among others — was based on the writer’s beloved sister, Rose, a schizophrenic who was lobotomized and spent most of her life in an institution.
The Glass Menagerie plays at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays. For tickets, click here or call the box office at 805.965.5400.
— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.