On Friday, Oct. 3, Trinity theatre will open its season with Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie,” directed by Kyle Gillette, associate professor of human communication and theatre.
“I was always really attracted to the way “˜The Glass Menagerie’ deals with memory and how it explores the texture of memory,” Gillette said. “It addresses the way that we remember things from our past and how that memory can warp and change based on how we feel about it.”
The play centers on the memories of the narrator, Tom Wingfield, as he recounts events that occurred between his mother Amanda, his sister Laura and himself. Apart from the Wingfield family, only one other character, Jim, appears throughout the play.
“It’s been really different just having the four of us because it always feels so quiet,” said Tristan Harness, a first year. “I’m used to casts of 45 or 50 people and here we are in this really emotionally exhausting, intense play and it’s only the four of us.”
According to Harness, working with a small cast has provided new challenges, and she loves how close the group has become. A smaller cast has allowed the actors to delve deeper into their characters and explore how they relate with one another in the context of Tom’s memories.
“The designers, cast and I did an exercise where we each had to remember and describe a room from our childhood to notice when memories would end, and that translated into a very spare set where walls are missing and only the important objects are there,” Gillette said.
Some of the major objects present in the set include the figures from Laura’s glass menagerie. As the play’s name implies, these objects become an important symbol. Timothy Francis, lighting designer and technical director, worked with a group of students to create a certain quality in these small figures.
“The lighting really highlights Laura’s intimacy with her collection,” Francis said. “It’s her place of escape, and her interaction with the figurines combined with the lighting helps to reinforce how much that is her own little private world.”
In addition to the unique lighting, Gillette also incorporated some new exercises into the cast’s rehearsals.
“Kyle brought his dog to rehearsal one day and we had to try to get her attention for one of the scenes,” Harness said. “We had to find things that she was interested in and play with them, kind of like how you would use your props on stage to try to captivate an audience.”
Harness is looking forward to seeing how audiences react to the play’s more comedic moments.
“I’m excited for when people are going to laugh; I know it’s a really intense play and it’s going to be sad, but there are some funny moments and I’m excited to hear how the audience reacts to them,” Harness said.
“The Glass Menagerie” will run Oct. 3-5 and Oct. 8-11 in Stieren Theater. Curtain times are 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. on Sunday and 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.