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Barter brings enduring 'Glass Menagerie' to life

October 5th, 2011 2:03 am by staff report

Barter brings enduring 'Glass Menagerie' to life

Ashley Campos, left, and Nathan Whitmer star in Barter Theatre's upcoming production of Tennessee Williams' 'The Glass Menagerie,' opening Friday on Barter Stage II.


   Barter Theatre will bring Tennessee Williams’ classic American play “The Glass Menagerie” to life on Barter Stage II beginning Friday.

   “Filled with tenderness, charm and beauty, ‘The Glass Menagerie’ is one of the most enduring and engaging plays of the 20th century,” said Richard Rose, Barter’s producing artistic director.

   “The Glass Menagerie” is set in a tenement apartment in St. Louis during the Depression. Barter newcomer Nick Koesters, who has spent the last 17 years performing professionally in Northeast Ohio, plays Tom, a poet and a dreamer working in a warehouse who tells his version of the family story, one he calls “truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”

   Tom’s mother, Amanda (Tricia Matthews), longs for the security and gentility of the past as she desperately tries to secure a future for her shy daughter, Laura (Ashley Campos), who fixes her devotion and attention upon a menagerie of fragile, glass ornaments.

   Enter gentleman caller Jim O’Connor (Nathan Whitmer), a symbol of the real world beyond the Wingfield family’s doors. He is the “long delayed, but always expected something” that they live for.

   “It can be a little intimidating to tackle such an iconic piece of theater,” said Nicholas Piper, the show’s director. “When faced with such a task, it is important to go back to what is always most important — the story. This is the story of a family stuck in a tough spot, like so many families, then and now, the result being that each tries to escape their reality in order to find some hope.”

   Besides Barter Theatre producing his “The Glass Menagerie,” playwright Tennessee Williams has other ties to the State Theatre of Virginia. During the 1959-1960 season, Williams bartered the rights to his play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” to Robert Porterfield, founder of Barter Theatre, for a Virginia ham — hence the name Barter Theatre. Many playwrights bartered their rights for ham, except Bernard Shaw, who was a vegetarian and instead accepted spinach. In 1962, Williams came to Barter Theatre for an “Evening with Tennessee Williams.”

   Williams received virtually all of the top theatrical awards for his works of drama, including a Tony Award for best play for “The Rose Tattoo” (1951) and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1948) and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1955). In 1980, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter. Today he is acknowledged as one of the most accomplished playwrights in the history of English speaking theatre.

   “The Glass Menagerie” will play at Barter through Nov. 12.

   Tickets are $28, $31 and $34.

   For tickets or more information, call (276) 628-3991 or visit www.bartertheatre.com  .
Courtesy of Barter Theatre




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