The Glass Menagerie

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The Glass Menagerie is a four-character play by Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)[1]

The original text

The play premiered in Chicago 1944, catapulting Williams from obscurity to fame. It was then performed on Broadway at the Playhouse Theatre in March 1945 under the direction of Eddie Dowling.

The play has strong autobiographical elements, featuring characters based on Williams himself, his histrionic mother, and his mentally fragile sister Rose. In writing the play, Williams drew on an earlier short story, as well as a screenplay he had written under the title of The Gentleman Caller.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Afrikaans by Fred le Roux as Die Glasspeelgoed.

Translated into Afrikaans as Speelgoed van Glas ("Toys of Glass") by W.K. Grobler.

Performance history in South Africa

1949: First produced in South Africa in English at the Little Theatre by Leonard Schach, featuring Rosalie van der Gucht, Jobie Stewart, Rosemary Jean Kirkcaldy, and Colin Romoff. Nigel Hawthorne was the stage manager.

1949: Six months later Leonard Schach produced the same play on a national tour under the National Theatre Organisation banner, using Nita Economides (Laura), Anna Romain Hoffman (Amanda), Will Jamieson, Frank Wise. Decor by Cecil Pym.

1966: On 11 and 12 November the Bellvillese Afrikaanse Toneelvereniging (B.A.T.) staged a production of the Afrikaans translation Speelgoed van Glas on the occasion of the society's 15th anniversary, in the Civic Centre in Bellville, directed by Iris Roux, with Mees Xteen (Tom), Marie van Heerden (Amanda), Sariana Augustyn (Laura) and Casper Venter (Jim). Decor by Joop van Ryswyk.

1967: Speelgoed van Glas was presented by SATS at the Bloemfontein Civic Theatre, 20-22 April, under the direction of Jo Gevers starring himself as Jim O'Connor with Schalk Jacobsz (Tom Wingfield), Mariechen Naudé (Amanda Wingfield) and Annatjie Vorster (Laura Wingfield). Designed by Jo Gevers.

1971: Staged by Volksteater Pretoria, directed by Mario Schiess, with Willie Boshoff (Tom), Enone van den Bergh (Amanda), Stephanie van Niekerk (Laura) and Roeloff van den Bergh (Jim).

Many great productions over the years, often done by University drama departments.

1974: The Space (Cape Town) directed by Bill Tanner, with Yvonne Bryceland (Amanda Wingfield), Hilary Glasson (Laura Wingfield), Wilson Dunster (Jim O'Connor), Bill Flynn) (Tom Wingfield). Stage manager Totti Ebrahim.

1981: Directed by Lucille Gillwald at Upstairs at the Market in 1981 starring Lesley Nott, Wilson Dunster, Ron Smerczak and Shelagh Holliday.

1984: Staged by PACOFS, directed by Schalk Jacobsz with Joey de Koker and Christo Potgieter.

1989: Presented by the Baxter Theatre,opening at the Baxter Sudio 22 September, revived 20 December 1989, starring Brenda Wood, Stephen Jennings, Michelle Scott and Geoffrey Hyland. Directed by Fred Abrahamse, design by Brian Collins.

1994: Staged at the Youth Theatre, Johannesburg Civic Theatre, directed by Karoly Pinter, starring Jana Cilliers, Jocelyn Broderick, André Odendaal and Martin le Maitre.

2005: Performed at the Hexagon Theatre on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal from 4 to 8 October. Directed by Peter Mitchell with Hazel Barnes, James Aitchison, Justin Southey and Kiara Worth. Set and Lighting design by Peter Court.

2019: Presented from 1-30 November by Abraham & Meyer Productions in The Arena at the Artscape Theatre Centre, Cape Town, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the play. Directed by Fred Abrahamse, with set design by Fred Abrahamse, costume design by Marcel Meyer, lighting design by Faheem Bardien. The cast included Fiona Ramsay, Matthew Baldwin, Jenny Stead and Marcel Meyer.


Speelgoed van Glas theatre programmes, 1966, 1967.

Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Inskip, 1977. p 119.

Astbury 1979.

Volksteater theatre programme, 1971.

Behrens, 1978.

PACOFS Drama 25 Years, 1963-1988.

Baxter Theatre pamphlet, October-November 1989.

Tucker, 1997. p.535 (1994 production).

Typed text of Fred le Roux's Afrikaans translation found in the Drama Department archives of Stellenbosch University.

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