I remember being at a yard sale many years ago and sifting through a box of dusty books. Buried deep inside the box was a slim, lightly tattered copy of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. I purchased the book for the bargain price of twenty-five cents, not realizing at that moment what a treasure I had found.
This issue’s theme of memory brought me back to that day at the yard sale, and the afternoon I spent reading The Glass Menagerie. Memory played a significant role in Tennessee Williams’ life as a writer. Many of his plays feature characters and experiences based on his own memories, but only The Glass Menagerie embodies the theme of memory so completely. Williams even went so far as to coin the phrase “Memory Play” to describe his own work. In the production notes for The Glass Menagerie he wrote, “Being a memory play, The Glass Menagerie can be presented with unusual freedom of convention.” This freedom allowed Williams to employ devices unique to the stage to depict the feeling of memory. From the dim lighting, to the music playing in the background (“In memory everything seems to happen to music”), the play is told entirely from the memory of Tom, the narrator, and also features the other characters, Amanda and Laura, clinging desperately to their memories in the face of an uncertain future. Can our memories hold us back? Yes. But they can also be the force that pushes us forward.
In this issue, Playwright Jennie Webb talks to Mason’s Road about her writing process, the need for more female playwrights, and her tendency to “steal” memories.