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Shards of American South Cut Bengaluru

Glass Menagerie, a play set in the 1930s America about a family and their fragile dreams, moved the audience.

Published: 25th February 2016 04:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2016 04:53 AM   |  A+A-

Shards

BENGALURU: Tennesse Williams’ part-autobiographical play, The Glass Menagerie, set in the late 1930s financially-troubled America is very relevant to today, says theatre artist Jill Navarre.

Directed by Navarre, it was staged in Rangashankara recently by the Puducherry-based Auroville Theatre Group.

“I chose this play for Bengaluru because the plot is very relevant even today,” she said. “The economic difficulties, single parenting, desperate to get daughter married and a big-dreaming son who loves his sister. It is a very touching story.”

This was the 20-year-old Auroville Theatre Group’s first venture out of Puducherry. Playwright, screenwriter and director Jill Navarre, who is from Louisiana and grew up in New York, has been a part of this troupe for more than a decade.

The group has been practising this play for five months and have staged it thrice in Puducherry, before bringing it to Bengaluru. The dialogues were modified to reflect current conversational language.

Vinu Karthik, who is a Media Science student at Anna University, played Tom Wingfield -- the guilt-ridden brother. Karthik, a brilliant actor from Chennai, has been with the troupe for the last six years. “He is like my son,” says Jill.

Karthik has played a central character in a yet-to-be-titled Tamil film.

The cripled sister Laura Wingfield was played by Shilpi Singh, a teacher with roots in Bihar, and the charming Jim O’Connor was played by Sugumar Shanmugam, a professional theatre artist and a student of MA Performing Arts.

Theatre artist Swati Mukherjee played the harried mother Amanda Wingfield.

The 120-minute play was captivating, with the three central characters -- Amanda, Laura and Tom -- played to perfection.

“Rangashankara is a wonderful theater,” said Navarre. Perfect for a play that requires intimacy with the audience.

“The stage is so close to the audience,” she said. “Since this play has a narrator addressing the audience directly, we could connect better with them.”

The Story

The play has only four characters -- Tom Wingfield, a young man with great dreams; Amanda Wingfield, his constantly worried mother who has struggled to raise two children in a financially devastated country; Laura Wingfield, her daughter and Tom’s sister; and Jim O’Connor, a friend of Tom’s at the workplace. There is a fifth character, who is always on the stage but never speaks -- a portrait of Tom’s father who had left the home long back. Amanda worries that her introverted daughter with a limp, Laura, will remain a spinster. Amands therefore persuades Tom to bring his friend Jim home in the hope that Laura will find a good match. Jim charms Laura only to leave at the end of the evening, saying that he is engaged



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