Director will bring his 'unique insights'
to 'The Glass Menagerie'
Amanda Wingfield had been a popular girl with as many as 17 suitors in one day. She chose, however, to marry a telephone lineman who "fell in love with long distance" and disappeared. She senses the same restlessness in her son, Tom, and fears for the family's financial security. Amanda persuades Tom to find a gentleman caller for her 24-year-old daughter, Laura, who is comfortable only in her own insulated world.
"These people are not incredible people; they are just people," says director Joseph Chaikin of the characters in Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie." Chaikin's staging of the well-known play will be presented March 18-April 10 at the Yale Repertory Theatre, corner of Chapel and York streets.
Under Chaikin's deft direction, the story of the Wingfield family will be presented with a unique insight, says Stan Wojewodski Jr., dean of the School of Drama. "It is, indeed, a privilege to introduce Yale Rep audiences to the work of Joseph Chaikin," Wojewodski says. "His commitment to the art form, already legendary, is also alive today, and we are the beneficiaries of that commitment."
Chaikin has been a force in the theater community over the past 40 years. For nearly a decade he directed one of the most influential experimental theater groups in the United States, the New York City-based Open Theater, which he founded in 1963 after working as an actor with the Living Theater. He worked on projects with the Open Theater that earned the company six Obie Awards and Chaikin the Vernon Rice Award for Outstanding Contribution to Theater.
With playwright Sam Shepard he cowrote and performed "Tounges," "Savage/Love" and "When the World Was Green (A Chef's Fable)." He is the author of "The Presence of the Actor" and "Letters and Texts," which includes a collection of correspondence between himself and Shepard. In 1992 Chaikin directed Bill Irwin in an Obie Award-winning production of "Texts for Nothing" by Samuel Beckett at The Joseph Papp Public Theater. An accomplished teacher, Chaikin has conducted workshops and seminars throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and South Africa. He has been honored with the first Lifetime Achievement Obie Award and the Edwin Booth Award for his contributions to New York City theater.
One critic described Chaikin's contribution this way: " ... Chaikin has probably done more than anyone to shake American theater loose from its 19th-century roots in naturalism and psychology. He has found new ways to develop non-literary languages and non-narrative structures for the stage and, in the shadow of films and television, to affirm the special energy of [the theater's] liveness."
Laura Esterman will portray Amanda Wingfield in the Yale Rep production of "The Glass Menagerie." Her credits include "Marvin's Room," for which she won the Drama Desk, Outer Critics' and Obie Awards. Wayne Maugans, who portrays Tom, has appeared in roles on both stage and screen, and is a featured performer in the BBC/PBS documentary "Sam Shepard: Stalking Himself." Laura is played by Kali Rocha, whose many credits include a Broadway production of "An Inspector Calls" and "In the Summer House" at Lincoln Center Theater. Jay Snyder, who plays the Gentleman Caller, has appeared on the New York stage and on television, and as the voice of Mozart in "A&E Biography: Mozart," which received the 1995 Ciné Golden Eagle Award.
The design team for "The Glass Menagerie" includes scenic designer Alexander Dodge, costume designer Sarah A. Iams, lighting designer Robert Perry, sound designer David Budries, and production dramaturgs Catherine Sheehy, Cynthia T. Brizzell and María E. Padilla.
Performances of "The Glass Menagerie" will be Mondays at 7 p.m. and Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees March 27 and April 3, 7 and 10. Ticket prices range from $26 to $33; discounts are available for students, senior citizens and groups of 10 or more. For more information, call the Yale Rep box office at 432-1234; box office hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and Saturday, and 10 a.m. until show time on performance days.
T H I SW E E K ' SS T O R I E S