About this title:
Set in St Louis during the depression, the glass menagerie is one of Tennessee Williams' most powerful and moving plays. Abandoned by her husband when he 'fell in love with long distances', Amanda Wingfield comforts herself with recollections of her earlier, more gracious, life in blue mountain when she was pursued by 'gentleman callers'. Her son tom, a poet with a job in a warehouse, longs for adventure and escape from his mother's suffocating embrace. Laura, her shy crippled daughter, has her glass menagerie and her memories. Amanda is desperate to find her daughter a husband, but when the long-awaited gentleman caller does arrive, Laura's romantic illusions are finally crushed. Mirroring the quiet despair of the thirties, the "Glass Menagerie" in its nostalgia for a past world and its evocation of loneliness and lost love celebrates, above all, the human need to dream.
About the Author:
Tennessee Williams was born in 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi, where his grandfather was the episcopal clergyman. When his father, a travelling salesman, moved with his family to St Louis some years later, both he and his sister found it impossible to settle down to city life. He entered college during the Depression and left after a couple of years to take a clerical job in a shoe company. He stayed there for two years, spending the evenings writing. He entered the University of Iowa in 1938 and completed his course, at the same time holding a large number of part-time jobs of great diversity. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1940 for his play Battle of Angels, and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and 1955. Among his many other plays Penguin have published The Glass Menagerie (1944), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Summer and Smoke (1948), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Camino Real(1953), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Orpheus Descending (1957), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), Period of Adjustment (1960), The Night of the Iguana (1961), The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963; revised 1964) and Small Craft Warnings (1972). He died in 1983.
Despite being digitally remastered, this 1964 full-cast production featuring four of America's best stage actors doesn't quite work. They sound as if they're reading lines, rather than acting--they don't manage to make the listener suspend reality and enter the life of the play. Their Southern accents seem forced and the language stilted. In addition, as the actors wander in and out of range of the microphones, their voices strengthen, then fade. The third CD of the package contains rare recordings of Williams himself reading the opening dialogue and closing scene of the play, as well as several poems. It's interesting listening to his slightly nasal, gentle drawl, yet all in all, some archival material is best left on the shelf. A.C.S. © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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