The Glass Menagerie: Tennessee Williams’ Story

March 10th, 2013 at 11:00am brian

Young Tennessee WilliamsBy Damien Smethurst

“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician.
He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”

So begins ‘The Glass Menagerie’, the breakthrough play by Tennessee Williams, and the first production
of the year by the Prague Playhouse after their superb productions in 2012.

This is a play about a family, and as seems to be common in theater, somewhat of a dysfunctional one at
that. The play is based on Williams’ own life, and since making its theatrical debut in Chicago in 1944 it
has been considered a modern classic due to the fact it deals with things that we as individuals can relate
to and understand.

The play is based on the fact that to some extent we all feel some level of responsibility to our own
family, and yet at the same time we often feel the undeniable urge to break away from them and get out in
the world to do our own thing, unburdened by other people, no matter how much we might love them. It
also looks at the archetypical Southern lady, trying to keep her family together in the midst of events that
are anything but conducive to togetherness.

As we know, there are people from all over the world in Prague, and we are here for countless different
reasons, but deep down we all have some level of residual guilt about things like leaving our family
behind, and that guilt is the very essence of this play, so it is a production that appeals to everyone,
regardless of background.

The play was first translated into Czech and shown in Prague in 2001 at Divadlo Petra Bezruče, and
that initial run lasted for 5 years before the play finally closed in 2006. Since then, it has been played
at Slovácke Divadlo, Švandovo divadlo na Smíchově, Divadlo Metro and also in small towns such as
Kulturní centrum Rakovník, Moravske divadlo Olomouc, Buran Teatr Brno, and it has generally been
well received by Czechs.

This production however is the first showing of the play in Prague since at least 2009, and the first ever to
be performed in English and with native English speakers.

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