premiere 15 Nov 2015
Since several years, Sam Gold is regarded as one of the hottest directors in New York, where he was born in 1978. With his staging of The glass menagerie – the play had been on his wish list for a while – he workis outside of the US for the first time.
About the work of Tennessee Williams, Eliza Kazan, who has directed many of his plays, said: ‘Everything in his life is in his plays, and everything in his plays is in his life.’ That is certainly true about the strongly autobiographical The glass menagerie.
Amanda Wingfield lives in a neighbourhood for the lower middle class with her two children. Her husband left her years ago. Amanda does everything she can to provide a good future for her children.
Both children live in a fantasy world they created themselves. Son Tom works in a shoe store, but has poetic ambitions. He is thinking about running away from home. Daughter Laura is mildly disabled as a result of an illness during her childhood. She lives a secluded life, estranged from the world. The shy Laura is just as fragile as the collection of glass toy animals she carefully built up and cherished.
Amanda is looking for a husband for her daughter. Encouraged by his mother, Tom invites a colleague to come over for dinner at their house. Jim was an athlete during his youth. He turns out not to be a stranger to Laura. The arrival of the young man puts the already problematic relationships within the family under high pressure.
The premiere of The glass menagerie in 1944 caused Tennessee Williams to instantly become world famous. Not only did it become an American classic, it is without a doubt one of the greatest plays worldwide. Later successes by Williams are Cat on a hot tin roof and A streetcar named Desire.
Sam Gold about The glass menagerie
‘I was in my teens when I saw The glass menagerie for the first time. I recognized myself in Tom back then. In his search for identity and freedom. In his longing for a life as a poet. In the jail he lived in. In him, I recognized the fears and the dreams of every young American man. The play directly addressed me. Now that I am reading it again twenty years later, I am the father of a daughter and for me it is not so much the play about Tom anymore, but more about Amanda, whom I don’t see as the slightly comical, bossy mother. It surprises me that I recognize myself in her now, in her tormented love for her children. My bond with the play is still as strong as it used to be, but it is very different.
At the time, the poetic language and the ingenious form appealed to me strongly. But now I see that is is also a very naturalistic play. With great subtlety and eye for detail, it provides a view on a family in St. Louis during the late 1930s. I find it interesting to research the poetic language and the banality of the environment at the same time. I am really looking forward to bringing this fragile, fearless and harrowing autobiographical view of an artist on his own life and family to the stage.’
THE GLASS MENAGERIE BY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS IS PERFORMED IN AGREEMENT WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF THE SOUTH, SEWANEE, TENNESSEE.