APU Theater’s latest production features a rendition of Tennessee Williams’ famous work, “The Glass Menagerie.” The play, which premiered in 1944, is about an ambitious boy named Tom who hopes to be a poet but puts a hold on his dreams in order to care for his family. Tom is raised by his single mom, Amanda, and has an older sister, Laura, who is crippled due to a childhood illness.
The show’s director Gregory Sims noted that the show, while involving many characters, focuses on Tom’s search for personal meaning amid tumultuous personal and family affairs.
“[The show details Tom’s] attempts to find redemption and peace, sifting through the glass shards of his own soul,” Sims said.
The show’s set remained the same throughout, with only minor changes in props. On the back wall was a fragmented, empty picture frame meant to represent Tom’s missing father. Throughout the show, if Tom’s father was mentioned, a single spotlight lit up the picture frame.
Scott Boynton was the set designer for this production and debated ways to cleverly represent the story.
“I played with the ideas of almost shattering the set apart, having fragmented pieces of the doorway, of the floor, things like that,” Boynton said. “You’re playing with the themes of the fire of human desperation and trying to escape, [which is] also why we have the fire escape there.”
The picture frame is the most-used prop throughout the story, due to how frequently Tom’s father is mentioned. Amanda, Tom’s mother, is concerned that Tom will end up like his father. As a result, Tom is constantly deceitful by lying to her about where he is going and what he is doing. By doing so, he is actually becoming more and more like his father.
“There is no picture in the frame because the father is gone,” Boynton said. “I thought it wouldn’t give it character if you had a man who was perpetually smiling throughout the whole production; you would always remember this smiling face instead of a person who’s actually gone from your life.”
Tom, who is played by senior double major in business management and BFA acting Andrew Bliek plays both character and narrator in the story. Bliek said this was an interesting shift when it came to playing the role on stage.
“Tom is significantly older in the narration, so I get to enter a completely different world as Tom in the narration and bring the audience in,” Bliek said. “When I go into the scenes, it’s youthful Tom. That’s how I differentiate it in my head.”
Even though the events of the show were dark, Bliek explained that Tom is, in some ways, a whimsical spirit. Bliek said he relates to Tom in his desire for adventure, as well as his desire to get away from home.
“There have been times in my life where I just wanted to get away, break free of the routine that I’m in, or everything just seems [so] mundane so I just want to change something,” Bliek said. “I relate to Tom in that way. The play is more than just his anger and angst. It’s his love for his family. That’s why he stayed so long, and I deeply love my family.”
In terms of preparation for his role, Bliek explained that in order to relate to Tom’s character, he had to isolate himself. Because he is a poet and writer, Tom is naturally prone to being alone, which is something that Bliek tried to capture for the stage.
“I spent a lot of time alone,” Bliek said. “When I would spend time in seclusion, I would make sure that I had my lines with me or I was writing poetry or something like that.”
“The Glass Menagerie” is playing at the Blackbox theater until Nov. 19th. Currently, every show is sold out.