West Virginia Wesleyan's Department of Theatre & Dance will present Tennessee Williams' masterpiece "The Glass Menagerie" Nov. 14 16 at 8 p.m. with an additional matinee performance Nov. 16 at 2 p.m.
Directed by Associate Professor Thomas Schoffler, the haunting classic will be presented in the Culpepper Auditorium in the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts.
Set in the 1930s in St. Louis, "The Glass Menagerie" takes place in the claustrophobic apartment of the Wingfield family as they struggle to take control of their circumstances in the absence of their missing patriarch, "a telephone man who fell in love with long-distance." Exploring themes of memory, family, guilt and escape, the play has been popular with audiences ever since it first opened in 1944. A current revival on Broadway stars Cherry Jones and recent Star Trek film alum Zachary Quinto.
"No matter how many productions I've seen over the years, the play still speaks to me every time," remarked Schoffler, who saw a regional production last spring and the Broadway revival last month. "It's promising to watch a new generation fall in love with Williams all over again."
The college's new director of technical theatre, Keith Saine ,agreed. "I have been thinking about this play since my own college days, and it's fantastic to see these students coming up with a concept or an approach that I've not considered before."
Wesleyan's production features student work prominently, both in and behind the scenes. Designs by technical theatre majors include scenic by senior Derrick Hardman of Weston; lighting by senior Jerry Pedroza of Newark, Del.; and properties by senior Rikako Sasaki of Tokyo, Japan; with executions by student technical director, senior and master electrician Jake Greenfield of Grove City, Pa., and senior Matt Griffin of Rockville, Md. Senior Jamie Wagner of Shrewsbury, Pa., is stage managing the show, assisted by sophomore Elizabeth Clever of Inwood; sophomore Joey Hochgesang of Elkins is the sound designer. The show also debuts the work of the department's new staff costume designer, Angela Post.
"Williams is so specific, but he says (a designer) can be free with it," said Pedroza. "It's realistic and unrealistic at the same time. It feels like a dream."
The cast features senior Rachel Channell of Elkins as Amanda Wingfield, senior Micah Spiece of Lewisburg as her son Tom, senior Abby Saenz of Wexford, Pa., as her daughter Laura, and the Gentleman Caller is played by senior Phil Fisher of Charleston, who also serves as assistant director.
"Usually I'm not a fan of realism in shows," said Fisher. "But I am finding so much meaning in between the lines. You can see so many different dimensions of the characters. You see a beautifully intricate story."
"I read the play and there's a huge difference," said Saenz. "To fully understand the story, you really have to watch the interactions between the characters, not just hear their lines. It's truly something to see actors perform these roles."
Tickets for "The Glass Menagerie" are available at the box office one hour before show time: $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and $3 with a WVWC ID. For more information email Thomas Schoffler at firstname.lastname@example.org.