Director David J. Valdez pushes the envelope into a contemporary setting by inventing and reimagining a classic memory play audiences have preconceived notions about.
In celebration of their 2022-2023 Season of Classics, on stage next at Carrollwood Cultural Center is the memory play, The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, set in St. Louis in the 1930s, on February 17 through February 26.
Directed by David J. Valdez, the play features Judy Heck Lowry, Zach “Hippie” Griswold, Madison Pulica, and Joshua Chaykin.
David explained his vision for the production.
“I always gravitate towards pushing the envelope into a contemporary setting in inventing and reimagining plays we have preconceived notions about. I’ve looked at it from the perspective of a timeless time and place. Obviously, we know from it being a nearly perfect classic it is set in the Great Depression in St. Louis. I have taken away the idea that it must fit a certain time.”
David aims to challenge the stereotypes of the characters.
This play is Tom’s memory, what, why, and he recalls, and David has incorporated or omitted elements solely based on Tom’s perspective.
“You may remember reading in school Amanda Wingfield as a monster. We aim to challenge these conventions. The Glass Menagerie is not a play that wraps itself up in a nice, tidy bow. This is no secret; however, we hope to bring fresh energy to the classic play,” said David.
As part of this dysfunctional family, Judy plays Amanda, a faded Southern belle who lives in a dingy apartment with her son and disabled and debilitatingly shy daughter. She convinces her son to bring home a “gentleman caller” for his sister.
“Amanda is somewhat based on Tennessee Williams‘ mother, the daughter, his sister Rose, and Tom, the narrator on him, but not entirely. There are plenty of differences. This play is an American classic, transforming 20th-Century Theatre,” said Judy. “Tennessee Williams was a poet, and his approach was much more interpretive and poetic. The language in this play is spectacular and rhythmic. Iconic actresses have played the mother. Amanda is one of the great roles in American theatre. She’s from Ohio, but she’s adopted the ways of the Southern belle.”
Judy became her character by reading and getting to know Amanda, finding the things in Amanda that resonate with her personally, finding things within Amanda that she is familiar with, with those she’s known, and building a backstory for her.