“The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams

“The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation.”

Tennessee Williams astounds me with his ethereal plays. He creates, designs, these scenes, these people, and they seem to float across time and space, endlessly relevant. It all happens within walls, within transparent curtains of humanity, the surroundings at times blurry beyond general contextualization, but was there ever any more truth?

“The scene is memory and is therefore nonrealistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart.”

There is an unbelievable amount of detail in The Glass Menagerie, more than enough to effortlessly outshine the delicate figures that Laura all but worships.

Speaking of them, how incredible is it that the voice of reason arrives with the stranger, with the outside perspective? Jim, once upon a time Laura’s dream, the “long-delayed but always expected something that we live for”, arrives in the scene with a dose of reality gentle enough to cut through glass. Oh, and if it isn’t then that delicate Laura too learns how to let go of the unicorn, perhaps accepting its difference to lie beyond the horn – a dream broken into freedom.

Speaking of freedom, it sweeps Tom off his feet. I will be forever in love with the way Tom sits movies on the opposite side of moving. The power of self-consciousness is incredible. When we think too much about walking it feels as though we don’t actually know how to do it. Same happens when we think about breathing, suddenly the possibility of forgetting how to do so, of missing one breath, the breath, becomes absolutely terrifying. The glass breaks, it startles them awake from their dream, and steps are taken with determination.

Speaking of determination, there is Amanda. Not quite here or there, wanting the best for her children, wanting them to learn from her tales, memories and dreams in one. There is a palpable duality to her, one that broke and mended my heart, again and again.

Together they are an intricate event, and they remain so, even after parting ways. I believe that is why the portrait of the father, the “telephone man who fell in love with long distances”, is present at all times. He might not be there in person, but he is there in them. Past, present and future co-existing.

Forgive me my muddled thoughts, but my world expands at each of Tennessee William’s words. I must definitely see The Glass Menagerie on stage, and would rather like to have Anna Chancellor as Amanda.


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