First rehearsal: This will be no wimpy 'Menagerie'

'The Glass Menagerie' in Denver
To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA’s NewsCenter.

Five things we learned at first rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company’s The Glass Menagerie, playing Sept. 9-Oct. 16 at the Ricketson Theatre:

1 PerspectivesFirst-time DCPA Director Ina Marlowe moved to Conifer in 2010, partly to be nearer to her grandchildren, and partly to serve as the first Associate Director in the (then) 37-year history of local legend Ed Baierlein’s Germinal Stage-Denver. Marlowe is a graduate of the Goodman School of Drama and founder of Chicago’s like-minded Touchstone Theatre. Marlowe had acted in Germinal’s production of Ionesco’s Macbett back in 1978, and in 2010 directed The Little Foxes there. In announcing Marlowe’s appointment, Baierlein said lovingly of her then, “She’s a real live wire.”

Said Marlowe: “What we tried to do when we approached this play was to re-envision it, and try to get closer to the heart of what Tennessee Williams was trying to create. In this play, he asks us to explore the nature of memory and escape. This is a family tangled together with love and unable to communicate.”

“We come to each other, gradually but with love. It is the short reach of my arms that hinders, not the length and multiplicity of theirs. With love and with honesty, the embrace is inevitable.” – Tennessee Williams.

2 PerspectivesThe set will float. Or, to be more specific, the playing area that represents the Wingfield living room will float. The Glass Menagerie is Tennessee Williams’ famous “memory play,” and we’re told in the opening remarks that memory is murky and unreliable. So here the playing area designed by Joe Tilford really does float, just a bit out of the audience’s tactile reach. How? By removing the Ricketson Theatre stage floor, which is built about 3 feet above the theatre’s true foundational floor. The playing area representing the Wingfield living room will be essentially a square floor that lights up from below and appears to be attached to nothing, floating in space. “So what that has done is created black void,” said DCPA Director of Design Lisa Orzolek.

3 PerspectivesNo “wimpy” menagerie: Laura’s haunting glass figurines, says Scenic Designer Joe Tilford, are a metaphor not only for Laura hiding from reality but Amanda and even Tom as well. “The menagerie represents that place in our minds where we go to escape our circumstances.” Often when you see The Glass Menagerie staged, Laura produces her figurines on a little tabletop that can be hidden away on a shelf. “But that’s knick-knacks,” said Tilford. “Seems a bit too wimpy for a central image and metaphor.” His solution: “First, making the menagerie of figurines something that Laura can escape into. Can she have an inner life inside a cloud of glass figurines? And when she is not within the menagerie, can it float in mid-air as in a memory, disconnected from the grounding reality of a table or a shelf?”

4 PerspectivesDCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson decided to stage Williams’ first play now, he said, because it is one of the few American classics the DCPA Theatre Company has not taken on in its nearly 40-year history.

“It’s a play about a family and the way we sometimes break apart and come together,” he said. “But I also think it’s about expectations and the American Dream. You have four characters in this play who all have different expectations about where their lives should be going, and the way the world should have treated them, and what they should be doing with their lives. And they can’t seem to move to a place they can all agree upon. It’s set in the late 1930s – a time of great poverty. A lot of people were struggling with what they perceived to be the American Dream. Life shouldn’t be this hard. I think it’s perfect to have an American classic like The Glass Menagerie on one stage, alongside the classic Frankenstein on the other.

The Glass Menagerie’s ‘Hamlet reunion, from left: Amelia Pedlow, Aubrey Deeker and Kathleen McCall. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA’s NewsCenter.

5 PerspectivesIt’s a Hamlet reunion: Three of the four Glass Menagerie cast members were prominently featured in the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2014 Shakespeare production of Hamlet. Aubrey Deeker, who played the titular role opposite Amelia Pedlow as the drowning Ophelia, is back to play the narrator, Tom. Deeker and Pedlow have gone from playing lovers then to siblings now. Pedlow plays Laura Wingfield, the “is-she-or-has-she-ever-been?” disfigured sister. And Kathleen McCall, who played Queen Gertrude in Hamlet, is now the delusional Wingfield matriarch Amanda. The newcomer to the group is John Skelley, who is making his DCPA debut as the kindly but tantalizingly unavailable Gentleman Caller.

The Glass Menagerie
: Ticket information

• Sept. 9-Oct. 16
• Ricketson Theatre
• ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: TBA
• Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
• Groups: Call 303-446-4829


Glass Menagerie. Photo by John Moore