Tennessee Williams’ most powerful and haunting play, The Glass Menagerie, is being staged at UWA’s Dolphin Theatre this October.
Presented by the Graduate Dramatic Society and directed by Jane Hille, the classic American drama is a stirring portrait of a family that struggles with the past, future – and each other.
Amanda Wingfield desperately struggles to provide her fragile daughter with at least one “gentleman caller” while her son Tom dreams of escaping his job at a warehouse and oppressive life at home.
The semi-autobiographical play is filtered through Tom’s memory, reflecting on the glories of times past with echoes of loneliness, fragility and innocent hope.
The Glass Menagerie was Williams’ first successful play, catapulting him to the forefront of American theatre with other works such as A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
“Fragments of Tom’s experiences are pieced together as a justification for his actions,” Jane said.
“We step back into Tom’s memories and witness them being re-lived as he recalls his earlier life.
“The characters in the play are a menagerie and, not unlike the fragility of glass, they fracture and splinter from life’s wounds.
“It’s a poignant and powerful production of a shattering family.
“The main challenge is creating characters that both honour the text and relate to a contemporary audience, so getting the character of Amanda Wingfield right is paramount.”
Involved in theatre since she was a child, Jane is a drama educator, scriptwriter and director and is currently the artistic director of Fenceline Theatre Company at Swan Christian College.
She has written and directed numerous productions including 1914 Our Story About Love and its sequel 1915 Under The Surface for Kojonup’s Anzac centenary commemorations, The Pied Piper of Middle Swan and The Chook House for The Blue Room Theatre’s 2019 Summer Nights season.
Jane’s show Anyman was named best theatre production at Fringe World in 2018 and the cast of The Book of Everything – a Fenceline Theatre Company show – was awarded WA Emerging Artist in 2019.
“Tennessee Williams captures the complexity of human nature in The Glass Menagerie,” Jane said.
“It speaks on many levels about the disillusionment of life, its struggles against adversity and the fight we each have for our own survival.
“Memory and experience are intriguing devices to work with in theatre.”
The Glass Menagerie plays at 7.30pm October 16, 17, 18 and 19 with a 2pm matinee October 19. Tickets are $35, $25 concession – book at www.ticketswa.com/event/glass-menagerie.
Dolphin Theatre is located at the University of WA, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley.
glass1: The Glass Menagerie features Danielle Antaki, left, and Donna O’Brien. Picture: Myles Wright
glass2: Danielle Antaki, left, is Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie with Donna O’Brien as her daughter Laura. Picture: Myles Wright
glass3: The Glass Menagerie is filtered through the memory of Tom (James Ford, left) as he reflects on his life with mother Amanda (Danielle Antaki, centre) and sister Laura (Donna O’Brien). Picture: Myles Wright
glass4: Laura Wingfield (Donna O’Brien, right) remains stuck in her own little world in The Glass Menagerie with her brother Tom (James Ford, left) and mother Amanda (Danielle Antaki). Picture: Myles Wright
Graduate Dramatic Society
The Graduate Dramatic Society, or GRADS, is a community theatre group based in Perth, Western Australia. The society specialises in presenting plays from the classic repertoire, ancient, traditional and modern, inviting regular theatre goers, students and lovers of dramatic literature to see the best plays ever written, performed live and at affordable prices. It mentors people with an interest in theatre in all aspects of production and engages professional and amateur directors of expertise. Membership is open to all, graduates and non-graduates.
The society originated in 1952 at the University of Western Australia, Perth. In 1948, the Sunken Garden at the university, a theatre created from a sandpit, was the venue for a season of Oedipus Rex, which earned the plaudits of Laurence Olivier and Vivienne Leigh, among others. The subsequent blossoming of dramatic activity suggested to some of the undergraduates that they should continue acting after they graduated. Combined productions with the University Dramatic Society were an early feature of the Festival of Perth. For the ensuing years, GRADS has been a leading source of fine theatre in Western Australia.
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