Through the looking ‘Glass’

The economy failing, families unable to pay their bills, widespread unemployment — these troubles may sound like something out of today’s newspapers, but they are also faced by the cast of The Glass Menagerie.

Written by Thomas “Tennessee” Williams, the play is the latest to take the main stage at the College of Visual and Performing Arts. It is primarily about the relationships among the mother, son and daughter of the Wingfield family, and the pressures that family members put on each other, said C. David Frankel, director of The Glass Menagerie.

The play is set during the end of the Great Depression in St. Louis. The Wingfield family is fighting to survive, said Vanessa Nolan, a senior majoring in theatre performance who plays Amanda, the mother. Nolan’s twin sister, Raechel, plays Laura, the daughter.

“They’re kind of lost in the wind,” Vanessa Nolan said. “They’re people that sort of fade into the background because they couldn’t overcome their struggle of life.”

She said she feels the audience will be able to relate to the play, especially because of the nation’s economic crisis.

“I’m sure there are families out there who are struggling, families who need their children to work to keep their homes or put food on the table,” Nolan said. “That’s what this family is trying to do — even though they don’t want to (have to work so hard), they hope to survive.”

Frankel said the play explores the challenges people face when they’re caught between the desire to stay and protect their families and the need to leave in order to preserve their sense of self and sanity.

“We all come from families, and many of us have siblings, and all of us have parents, and we all go through points in our lives where we become aware of both the positive aspects of family and the constricting aspects of it,” he said.

Nolan said she hopes audience members leave with a sense of understanding, sympathy and appreciation for their family.

Frankel said he wants the play to open audiences’ eyes.

“I hope that they’ve seen something that shows something true about human beings and their need for one another,” he said. “And what happens when we face challenges that sometimes are out of our control.”

Performances of The Glass Menagerie will take place Nov. 6-8 and 12-15 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 9 and 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $8 for students and may be purchased from the College of Visual and Performing Arts box office or online at