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'The Glass Menagerie' fuses multimedia with an American classic


BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 16, 2012 – The beloved American mid-20th century classic "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams will open on Feb. 21 for six performances in the Squires Haymarket Theatre on the campus of Virginia Tech. 

The production is directed by faculty member Bob McGrath and is a part of the Mainstage Theatre series presented by the School of Performing Art and Cinema's Department of Theatre and Cinema

Williams, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, created works that are regarded today as American stage classics. Included among some of his best known plays are "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and "The Rose Tattoo." The production of "The Glass Menagerie" coincides with the end of a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of Tennessee Williams' birth.

Notable in its time for its innovative departures from realism in lighting, music, set and structure, "The Glass Menagerie" is a memory play, framed by a narrator that acknowledges the work's own theatricality. Amanda Wingfield, an aging Southern belle, and her children Tom and Laura, live in a small apartment. While Amanda reminisces about her youthful romances, Tom, a creative spirit at heart, chafes under the pressure of his mother's domineering presence and banal work-life at the "warehouse." Laura, a tender girl crippled by a bad left foot and paralyzing insecurity, spends her time tending to her cherished collection of glass figurines. When Jim, the charismatic "gentlemen caller," is invited to join the family for dinner, the Wingfields' simple lives are forever changed.

McGrath is well known for his creative and innovative effects and approach to theatre. "My adaptation is going to be true to Williams' original intention," says McGrath. "He calls for projections in the script and we are going to apply elements from my previous work. There will be some live music as well as recorded music. However, we will be sticking with the style of acting and performance from the 1940s." 

The production will feature projection designs by longtime collaborator Laurie Olinder. Both McGrath and Olinder are involved in New York City's innovative Ridge Theatre; McGrath as artistic director and Olinder as visual designer. The Ridge Theatre specializes in the creation of multimedia theatre, opera, and new music performance.

Performances of "The Glass Menagerie" are Feb. 21 through 25 at 7:30 .m. and Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. in the Squires Haymarket Theatre on the campus of Virginia Tech. 

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for students and seniors, and are available at the Student Centers and Activities Ticket Office in the Squires Student Center. For tickets, call 540-231-5615, order online, or purchase tickets at the ticket office. Tickets will also be sold at the door beginning one hour prior to the performance.

Free parking is available in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Streets, in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street, and the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200. Alternative parking is available in the Kent Square parking garage and the Farmers Market metered parking lot, both located on Draper Road. Additional Downtown Blacksburg parking information can be found online.

Virginia Tech's School of Performing Arts, a unit within the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is comprised of the Department of Music, the Department of Theatre and Cinema, and programs and classes in dance. The school is committed to education, training, and experience in the transformative power of the performing arts. In addition to producing more than 400 student, faculty, and guest-artist events each year, the school presents the annual Summer Arts Festival and maintains the university's artist registry.