By Hariti Sharma | October 23, 2023
The Set of "The Glass Menagerie"
Photo Credit: Hariti Sharma / The ASP
UAlbany’s Theatre Department began its six-show run of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” this Wednesday. The play is directed by Sean Patrick Tubbs, the new Assistant Visiting Professor of Direction. It is an American classic credited with launching distinguished playwright Tennessee Williams into fame.
The Glass Menagerie sees its lead character, Tom Wingfield, narrating the events of his past. Tom is a warehouse worker burdened with supporting his mother and sister. He dreams of adventure, much like his father who left the family sixteen years ago. His conflicted existence clashes with his mother, who worries for the future of her fragile daughter, Laura.
The shows take place in UAlbany’s very own Performing Arts Center, staged in the unique horseshoe-shaped Arena Theatre, where the audience surrounds the stage set as the Wingfield’s apartment.
Faculty designer Nora Marlow Smith on the Theatre Program’s social media said working with this unique rounded stage was an “exciting challenge – thinking about how to tell a story in a specific space while ensuring a democratic viewing experience. There are no bad seats in the Arena and each view is slightly different.”
On the Performing Arts Center website, Tubbs described “The Glass Menagerie” as “Tennessee Williams' most significant or well-crafted work, not only for its story and characters, but also because of its inventive, theatrical elements, specifically the play's form and structure.”
The director of the Theatre Program, Kate Walat, said on the PAC website that they hope the play resonates with students in the Theatre program who are young artists themselves. The play is known to mirror many elements of the playwright’s own life, with the characters based on his mother, his sister and himself, reflecting a young artist’s struggles in life.
Director Tubbs called the play a personal yet very familiar piece which connects with audiences even more today, perhaps, than when it was written. On UAlbany Theatre’s Instagram page, he said that during the production process he was “constantly learning how this play is so much about our lives, our families, and the choices we make.”
During performances of the play, the actors moved through the aisles, speaking lines between seats. You could have heard dialogue spoken right next to you, essentially giving each audience member watching “The Glass Menagerie” a unique experience.
The show ran from October 12 to 22.