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A Contemporary Glass Menagerie

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Dysfunctional. Codependent. Enmeshed. Low self-esteem. Personal struggles of the twenty-first century or those of the past? In his play, The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams portrays a southern family of the 1940’s attempting to cope with life’s pressures, and each of their own conflicts, after they have been deserted by their father and husband.

In attempting to create a modern-day movie adaptation of The Glass Menagerie from the original play, a parallel element would still be conveyed to the audience- inner and intra personal struggles of the past continue to be those of the present. If produced in the present day, the new version would have seemingly subtle changes such as new speaking styles, characters, and sets that will allow it to become modernized. Some original parts of the play such as “dated” dialogue, character traits, and settings will be discarded, but the original vision of Tennessee Williams will remain intact by keeping elements essential to recounting the Wingfield Family struggles.

As director of the updated production of The Glass Menagerie, one would first have to look at the type of speaking style and dialogue as a means to modernize the original content. In the play, Amanda, the mother, is characteristic of a southern belle. Her language reflects the stereotypical tradition and the polite nature of a southern woman. Tom and Laura, in keeping with their roots, also speak in this manner. To make the speaking style more current, the director can remove the twang from their voices and replace southern-associated words and sayings with the lingo and speaking style of present times.

Throughout the play, there are several harsh and bitter fights between Tom and Amanda, and in other parts of the play the dialogue between the characters is much more relaxed and pleasant. For the most part, the original lines in The Glass Menagerie would be used in the newer version, keeping the same thoughts and ideas expressed in the original play. Using the same dialogue with a different speaking style would preserve the vital character dynamics Tennessee Williams created.

In contrast to the somewhat subtle vernacular changes, the interest of the average moviegoer of today would be sparked by the addition of well-known Hollywood actors to portray the characters of The Glass Menagerie. This would probably prove the most effective means of creating a contemporary piece of theater from one of the past. In casting this movie, new actors and actresses should be able to fit the role of their designated character and mesh well with their personalities.

In the original play, Amanda, a grown woman, tries to live in the past through her children. An actress who would portray her character traits the best would be Kathy Bates. Bates’ overbearing mother character in the movie “The Water Boy” exemplifies her similar traits with Amanda. From her past roles, Bates’ characteristics, like her ability to control her children through superiority towards them, makes her the best choice for this role.

Kevin Spacey’s role in the movie “American Beauty” best parallels Tom’s life in the play. Spacey’s character, like that of Tom, drinks heavily, frequently attempts to escape reality, and finds himself stuck in a dead end job. In the new production of The Glass Menagerie, Tom would continue to provide a narrative account. Not only does this

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