The Glass Menagerie is a musical play

The Glass Menagerie is a musical play


A Tennessee Williams directed memory play; The Glass menagerie was premiered in 1994. The characters in the play are based on the author’s autobiographical life, showcasing his histrionic mother, and mentally fragile sister Laura. Before performing the play, Williams wrote a short story and a screenplay under the name The Gentleman Caller.

The Broadway play was first premiered in Chicago in 1994, which was later espoused by Ashton Stevens and Claudia Cassidy. They were famous Chicago artists who uplifted the spirits and enthusiasm of the play and the audiences.  Due to the widespread popularity, the play also won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award in 1945. The Glass Menagerie was Williams’ first play that gained immense success, following which he was recognized as Americas’ highly regarded playwrights.

Plot Summary

At the beginning of the play, the audience is introduced to Tom, who is the narrator, recollecting his mother, Amanda and his sister Laura. Amanda, Tom and Laura stayed in an apartment together, and the worry for Laura’s future grew day-by-day. Tom worked in a shoe warehouse, supporting the family during the day and spending his time watching the movies all night. Laura, due to her extreme shyness, drops out of high school and her mother is on a constant fetch for a suitable man. Pressurized by his mother, Tom invites Jim, a co-worker for dinner.

At the dinner, Laura realizes Jim to be her high-school crush and due to her shy nature regarded as “most likely to succeed“. Laura, filled with extreme shyness, claims to be ill and fails to join the family for dinner. Later at the dinner, Jim and Laura share a quiet dance. In the course of action, Jim knocks one of Laura’s Glass Menagerie (collection of glass animals). Later, Laura learns that Jim is engaged to be married; he leaves the room with the horn of the broken unicorn. Tom, surprised by the incident, learns that Jim made up the story of engagement as he had no romantic interest in Laura.

The play ends by Tom bidding farewell to his mother and sister and asks them to blow out the candles.


Words and Images on Screen

One of the unique details of the play is the use of an onstage screen. The words and images were projected on this screen, which was used to emphasize the effects depicted by the characters. The Blue roses appeared on screen 2 when there was a portray of the character’s past or fantasy. The device was however regarded at best ironic or worst, pretentious or condescending. Despite its uniqueness, directors were always contradictory of the screen and always wanted to get rid of them.  However, displaying drama on the screen was an epitome of Tennessee William’s work. The music also played an equal role in depicting the characters’ emotions. Part of the music was from inside the play, and part of it was external.


Throughout the plays’ performance in various countries, the play won many awards from 1945 till 2014, which included Tony Awards, Theater World Award and many more.