Classic play by Tennessee Williams, “The Glass Menagerie,” comes to the Lees-McRae stage

The Lees-McRae Theatre Arts department’s latest production, “The Glass Menagerie,” will run Wednesday, Nov. 9−Saturday, Nov. 12 in Hayes Auditorium. There will be four showings of the play, with three 7:30 p.m. productions on Nov. 9, Nov. 10, and Nov. 11, and one 2 p.m. showing on Saturday, Nov. 12.

This classic play─commonly taught in script-analysis and other theatre courses─is a semi-autobiographical account of the playwright Tennessee William’s life. The narrator and protagonist, Tom Wingfield, recounts his memories of being the sole provider for and living in a small apartment with his mother and sister.

“For Tom who is a poet, an artist, and a wanderer at heart, his whole existence in that apartment was pretty tough to put up with. He’s in a position where he has to care for people, but on the inside, he’s falling apart because he’s not able to follow his dreams,” Director and Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Josh Yoder said. “The plot of the story involves Tom trying to grapple with the responsibilities he has to his family, but also the responsibilities he has to himself.”

In contrast with the department’s first production of the season, “Clue,” “The Glass Menagerie” has a very small castonly four charactersa straightforward plot, and a relatively sparse set design, but that does not mean that this play will be simple for the student cast and crew bringing it to life.

Yoder said because of the exploration of memory in the play, there is a lot of room for creativity in lighting design, set pieces, and how actors choose to tell the story. Senior Abby Paulson and junior Charlie Scales are two students who will be diving head-first into this play as they take on roles as lighting designer and sound designer respectively.

These roles, which are usually reserved for faculty, give Paulson and Scales a large amount of creative freedom to decide in which direction they want to steer the production, and how to reach their end goals. While Yoder said that placing students at the helm of these theatrical departments is not common, both Paulson and Scales have undertaken similar responsibilities in numerous other productions that have prepared them for this role.

Yoder said that this level of freedom is something he and the other faculty who are mentoring these student leaders have sought to afford to the cast as well.

“One of our goals in educational theatre is for actors to hone their own instincts, and one of the ways we do that is by giving them more say about what happens in the rehearsal hall,” Yoder said. “There are fewer people in the rehearsal hall, and there’s more time to explore as a result. I’m really pushing the idea of encouraging the actors to come in with ideas of how they want to move, and how they want to say things a certain way, and what each scene means to them in particular.”

According to Yoder, what makes “The Glass Menagerie” such a great play for actors is the strong points of view of each character, allowing each actor to develop their motivations, desires, and perspectives. He said that in educational theatre settings it is important to pick productions that will challenge the students working on the show and teach them something about their craft. In many instances these kinds of productions also challenge and teach something to the audience.

“This show is a great example of how the ideas of protagonist and antagonist don’t always mean ‘good guy, bad guy.’ It’s a complex and emotionally true show that resonates with a lot of people,” Yoder said. “We hope that there will be moments where the struggles that these characters are going through, their joys and their sorrows, will stick with audience members for a long time to come.”

Students, faculty, staff, and community members are encouraged to come out and enjoy this classic memory play on the Lees-McRae stage. General admission tickets are $15 per person for adults and $10 per person for children. Tickets are free for Lees-McRae students, faculty, and staff.

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By Maya JarrellOctober 21, 2022