I distinctly recall studying The Glass Menagerie as a “memory play” for my GCSE English Literature course ten years ago. My main concern back then as a 16 year-old school student was memorising key quotes like “You live in a dream: you manufacture illusions” and of course, making sure that there were always 2 N’s, 2 S’s and 4 E’s in Tennessee.
It was the first time I’d questioned why anyone would want to collect glass animals. I was never obsessed with things like that as a child, I was not even close to having an imaginary world like Laura Wingfield does, but I did recognise that there was a certain magic in the way that light could dance through cut glass.
Another fond memory was my English teacher trying her hardest to read the play out loud in her attempt at a southern drawl – you know, to help us really imagine the setting of the play in America’s Deep South. She had an air of being a fading Southern belle herself, but the South of England was hardly the same, and whilst we appreciated her efforts, her attempt at the accent didn’t help us much.
If I had been given the chance to see The Glass Menagerie performed on stage when I was studying it, there’s no doubt that it would have enhanced my understanding of the play and let’s face it, it would have been more fun! The Young Vic’s stage production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie will hopefully save thousands of English teachers the embarrassment of attempting a Southern drawl and The Glass Menagerie Script-writing Competition we have set up on Spinebreakers.co.uk will hopefully encourage teenagers across the UK to write their own plays inspired by family and in doing so, better understand what it was like for Tennessee Williams to write this play back in the 1940s about his own real life.
Danielle Innes, (competition judge and editor of Spinebreakers.co.uk)
The Glass Menagerie Script-Writing Competition runs until 31 Oct 2010 and is open to UK residents aged 13-18. Entry is on Spinebreakers.co.uk.