Little articles of it [glass], they’re ornaments mostly! Most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest little animals in the world. Mother calls them a glass menagerie! Here’s an example of one, if you’d like to see it! . . . Oh, be careful — if you breathe, it breaks! . . . Hold him over the light, he loves the light! You see how the light shines through him?
— Laura introducing her most prized possession to Jim
Did you know that The Glass Menagerie has been reinterpreted for over 60 years, on both stage and screen, including 3 films, which starred Kirk Douglas, Katherine Hepburn, John Malkovich, and Joanne Woodward (who was directed by her husband Paul Newman)? This Sunday, at the Abrons Art Center, Laurel Nakadate and James Franco will add to the menagerie of interpretations with their interactive project entitled Three Performances in Search of Tennessee. Paddle8 has co-commissioned this Performa project featuring a seance with the deceased writer.
The Glass Menagerie tells a tale of an American blue collar family, their struggle with poverty, loneliness, the burden of illness, unspoken love and unfulfilled dreams. Considered to be Williams’ first important play, The Glass Menagerie is a semi-autobiographical work from the author’s life. It tells the story of a single mother, Amanda, and her two adult children, Tom, and Laura, and Jim, the gentlemen caller. After their father dies, Tom is left to be the family breadwinner. Amanda, the lonely mother, longs for her mentally ill daughter to one day find a suitor who will provide for her the life she has lost; Laura instead spends her days dreaming, and collecting animal figurines. When Tom’s friend, Jim is invited over for dinner, we learn how he was Laura’s high school crush and everything her mother hopes a new son-in-law to be. But in true form, it wouldn’t be a Tennessee Williams’ play if a tragic secret weren’t revealed, causing heartbreak and disbandment of the family.
We’ve compiled together clips from various film and radio versions of this classic Williams play. For those who cannot see the live Franco/Nakadate event on Sunday, Paddle8 will be streaming the documentation for one week starting Monday, November 14th at noon EST.
Laurel Nakadate and James Franco‘s Three Performances in Search of Tennessee
Sunday, November 13, 12:00pm
Abrons Art Center