Arts and Entertainment

Tennessee Williams' 'The Glass Menagerie' at the Jewel Box

A 1940s Broadway classic brings the struggles of the individual and family structure with a hint of comedy to Poulsbo’s Jewel Box Theatre this Friday.

“The Glass Menagerie,” written by American playwright Tennessee Williams, take a timeless look at the difficult choices people make and the effects those choices have on others.

The play was written in such a way that many of the issues dealt with by the characters can be translated to any era, said director David Siskin.

“The play is very poetic and was highly unique for its time,” Siskin said. “It’s a classic. A great work of art.”

With a combination of realism and poetic symbolism, Siskin said audiences will be able to relate to the characters as they advance through the difficulties of their life.

This is the first time The Jewel Box has brought “The Glass Menagerie” to its stage. Artistic Director Todd Erler expects it will be a great addition to the venue.

Typically, The Jewel Box focuses on new work, but Erler said “The Glass Menagerie” is a classic, almost nostalgic, piece.

The play is told through the memories of Tom Wingfield, the son of a single mother who was abandoned by her husband. Under the economic difficulties of the 1930s, Tom feels obligated to stay with his troubled family as he struggles to become a writer.

In his attempt to thwart boredom, he spends his free time watching cheap movies, while his mother, Amanda, relishes in her past, wanting to share those things enjoyed long ago with her crippled daughter.

“The Glass Menagerie” takes on problems many families go through with a sometimes humorous tone, Siskin said. With a focus on defining moments in Tom’s life, Siskin said the sensitivity and beauty of what Tom faces will capture the audience’s attention.

From the ordinary individual seeking something more rewarding to dependent children at home, the end result of the play should overturn many stones that may look familiar to those in the audience.

In preparation for the play, the cast rehearsed four days a week for more than a month. Siskin said he is confident in the upcoming performance.

“We have a really solid cast here,” Siskin said. “They have all become their characters.”

Siskin began directing in 1974 while he was in college. Since then, he has directed about 40 shows, which include a few at the Jewel Box.

In the past, Siskin has worked with a few casts that do not turn out as well as hoped because auditions can sometimes be deceiving.

Not so with the cast of “The Glass Menagerie.”

The cast, comprised mostly of amateur actors, is anything but amateur, Siskin said.

Plays written by Tennessee Williams are not easy to master, Erler said. The time period of the play and the characters involved in “The Glass Menagerie” are a challenge to both actors and directors, which is why he said everyone enjoys performing and working behind the scenes for this show.

The set, too, will intrigue the audience with a surreal feel to it that accentuates the feel of a person’s memory, Erler said.

“You may not get people that work well all the time, but in this case we have a talented group,” Siskin said. “I consider them all professionals.” WU

“The Glass Menagerie” begins Friday, July 23, and will show through Aug. 15. Shows begin at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $14. Learn more at www.jewelboxpoulsbo.org or call (360) 697-3183.

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