Story by Taylor Inman, Contributing writer
Tennessee Williams’ famed classic, “The Glass Menagerie,” will make its Murray State debut, telling the memories of Tom Wingfield’s last attempt to satisfy his mother’s expectations before leaving to pursue his dream.
Murray State’s upcoming production is directed by Lissa Graham-Schiender, who has directed over 40 plays in her time teaching at Murray State. She said that though this is an American classic produced in 1944, it has something to say for college students of today’s time.
In the play, Tom (played by Noah VandenBosch), his mother Amanda (played by Katherine Summerfield) and his younger sister Laura (played by Karson Crass) grapple with expectations for their life and the task of setting Laura up with Tom’s coworker, Jim (played by Landen Bates). The entire play is only what Tom remembers, as he warns the audience at the beginning of the play that what was only important to him is what is shown.
Though “The Glass Menagerie” is a production with a smaller cast, Graham-Schiender said that there’s a benefit to working with only four people.
“The students get a lot more personal time with the director,” Graham-Schiender said. “The whole thing has been extremely rewarding, working with the students, teaching and guiding them through the play. And the set is also pretty rad.”
The set, one of the most unique aspects of the show, is made to look like a curio cabinet and appears to float on top of the stage. The characters that interact in it are like the glass figurines the play centers its metaphor on.
Laura, who has been left with crippling social anxiety after surviving polio as a child, must find a way to please her mother and find a decent suitor for herself.
Summerfield, senior from Louisville, Kentucky, said while her character is the antagonist, she becomes the catalyst for the other characters to be pushed toward their full potential.
“Without her pushing, Tom wouldn’t have left home,” Summerfield said. “She’s so life-like. Amanda is a struggling single mother and you can see her character in everyday life.”
Summerfield said she has learned something from the character that took time for her to grow closer to.
“You can’t put people in boxes, you can’t make them act how you think they should act,” Summerfield said. “Amanda can’t put Laura and Tom in the box that she wants them to be in.”
Graham-Schiender hopes that students take away the important lesson that “The Glass Menagerie” tells.
“This play is about regret. Sometimes we get put into situations in life where no answer is the right answer,” Graham-Schiender said. “But you have to answer the question anyways.”
Murray State’s production of “The Glass Menagerie” will premier at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 18 in the Robert E. Johnson Theatre. For tickets, call 270-809-4421. General admission will be $15 per person, the MSU/AARP rate will be $12 per person and student admission will be free with an MSU ID.