2012: #56 – The Glass Menagerie (Tennessee Williams)

Title: Glass Menagerie
Author: Tennessee Williams
Format: Paperback
Pages:  128
Publisher: New Directions
Source: library
★★★★☆ 

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.”

My thoughts:

Plays are a little outside of my usual purview, but my book club was reading this so I wanted to give it a shot. It’s short and sweet, and beautiful in its simplicity. There is a lot of symbolism, and Williams attempted things that really weren’t done at the time, such as the use of projected images. There is also a probable autobiographical component to the story. It’s not a happy story, but it definitely has something to say. A play I would enjoy seeing in person.

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