The department of theater and dance will present a popular memory play for its first performance of the semester, debuting Thursday.
“The Glass Menagerie,” a play comprised of four student actors, deals with differing perspectives of hopelessness in reality.
Tori Lee Averett, chair of the theater and dance department, said the decision to produce the play was based on the idea that it is an “iconic piece of southern and American literature.”
“It’s like a treasure,” Averett said. “Our students need exposure to this play.”
“The Glass Menagerie,” a play by American playwright Tennessee Williams, follows a young man, Tom, who desperately wants to escape the stressful household that he shares with his overbearing mother Amanda and socially awkward sister Laura in St. Louis, Missouri.
Adena Moree, associate professor of performance, will direct “The Glass Menagerie,” her first play since the spring of 2014.
“I think it’s important for acting students to learn their craft from the very best writers,” Moree said. “Williams is definitely one of the three great American playwrights.”
Moree said southerners will relate to some of the themes in the play.
“People who are from this area will certainly hear their grandparents and great grandparents in the mother’s part,” Moree said. “They will recognize elements from traditional southern homes presented in this play.”
The cast consists of four students—three seniors and one freshman. Aspen Battles, who plays the role of Laura, said this process was her first taste of industry-level theater.
“I just didn’t realize how intense and in-depth the rehearsal process could be,” Battles, a freshman theater and art major from Southside, said. “This show has taught me that there’s a lot more that goes into it than what you think.”
Battles also said working with upperclassmen was a rewarding experience.
“It’s been fun, but a little intimidating,” Battles said.
Moree said working with Battles was a good experience for the rest of the company.
“I think the rest of the cast learned a lot from watching Aspen come along,” Moree said. “She had little understanding about any of it in the beginning. . . We got to watch her blossom.”
Meagan Evans, a senior theater major from Wetumpka, who plays Amanda, the mother of the household, said that she found the process to be enlightening.
“It means a lot that I got to play this really iconic character,” Evans said. “It’s really helped me understand my own parents… Playing this part has really awoken that maternal sense in me.
“I’m trying to graduate and start my career and do things for me right now, but then I go to rehearsal and have to actually play a role in which I live for two other people, my children.”
Moree said Evans tapped into knowledge beyond her years to understand her character.
“Actresses spend their lives waiting to get over 50 just to play that role,” Moree said. “It’s been very interesting to watch a young actress take some of her sensibilities and try to wrap around this character’s reality.”
The play features a set design by Troy Alumni Bethany Wampol and music composed by Tommy Newman, lecturer of musical theater and playwriting.
“My entire journey as a director, I have always believed strongly in music and the way it connects the scenes,” Moree said. “But I’ve always lived in the land of a thousand CDs.”
Averett, who Moree directed when she attended Troy from 1998 to 2001, said all young actors could learn from Moree’s directing.
“It’s important for people to see someone who has a lifetime of experience do what they do,” Averett said. “To see somebody who is a director by trade is important—directing is just what she does.
“She takes great care to the moment-to-moment detail. . . She has a high standard for her work.”
Moree said after all is said and done, she wants her cast to do justice to the popular work.
“I’m really proud of them,” Moree said. “As long as we have done honor to the work and allow Tennessee Williams to be received the way he needs to be received, I’ll feel very gratified.”
“The Glass Menagerie” will be performed Thursday through Saturday this week at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the Trojan Center Theatre. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for non-students. Tickets can be purchased at the Trojan Center Box Office.