Tellico Villagers will get a chance to take in the works of famed playwright Tennessee Williams when the Tellico Community Players perform “The Glass Menagerie” beginning June 13.
The play, which was a breakout for Williams, tells the story of a single mother who shares a St. Louis apartment with her grown son and daughter.
“The father ran off when the kids were young, so she is kind of left holding the bag trying to raise these kids,” James Fisher, director, said. “She came from a very wealthy Southern family, and they’re in St. Louis now. She is trying to remember her past on Blue Mountain and how well she had it. Coming to this little broken down tenement in St. Louis trying to raise these kids all by herself is hard for her to understand.”
Tom, the son, serves as the play’s narrator, looking back and remembering the relationships with his mother and sister.
“I think because it’s a slice of real Americana, that’s what makes it stand out,” Fisher said. “These are real people, went through real problems. They can relate to people’s lives. … It may be set in a different period, but it’s stuff that’s happening today. I think that’s what makes it kind of unique.”
Because the play is a drama, Fisher noted the importance of the cast being convincing. He believes he has the right group in place.
“I have assembled a fantastic cast,” he said. “People are going to be blown away when they see this.”
Making up the cast are Jordan Phillips as Tom Wingfield, Lisa Silverman as Laura Wingfield, Harrison Huegen as Jim O’Conner and Freddi Birdwell as Amanda Winfield.
“The chemistry between the characters, you would think this is a real family, a real dysfunctional family,” Fisher said.
To help bring the performance to life for the audience, the Players put in a lot of work creating a believable set.
“It takes place in tenement housing, so I had to create what I thought was my vision of what tenement housing looks like,” Ali Davis, set designer, said. “I’m used to doing everything perfect, so with this one I had to make sure that nothing was perfect.”
Davis researched what other theaters had done for the play and also read through the script for inspiration.
“The building itself, in my mind, was built in the 1800s,” Davis said. “They’re living in it in the 1920s and ‘30s, and it was never kept up.”
In the end, Davis is happy with the set and believes the scenery will help engage the audience.
Costumes are also key. De Wayne Kirchner served as costume designer and worked to make clothing as realistic as possible.
“With this one, even though it’s set in the ‘30s, you have to revert back to the ‘20s because they don’t have a lot of money,” Kirchner said. “It’s clothing you have to style in the ‘20s but can be woven in to the early ‘30s. … You have to make everything look a little tired, so it can’t be pristine.
“... I’ve been doing this for so long and I know my time periods and the ‘20s is one of my favorite time periods,” he added. “The thing for me is trying to achieve a more working class-type of clothing for this show. I’m so used to doing glitz and glamour.”
The show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. June 13-15 and 20-22, with a 1:30 p.m. matinee June 23. Tickets are $21 and can be purchased at www.tellicocommunity playhouse.org.
“It teaches a life lesson, really,” Fisher said. “A lot of Tennessee Williams’ plays teach you something. In this particular case, it teaches you about regret, it teaches you about disabilities and how people feel about themselves. That is really what he is getting at when he wrote this play.”