The Glass Menagerie- a production...For my Theatre Arts class our professor has asked that we write a production plan for The Glass Menagerie.  I am at a total loss on where to begin.  The plan...

The Glass Menagerie- a production...

For my Theatre Arts class our professor has asked that we write a production plan for The Glass Menagerie.  I am at a total loss on where to begin.  The plan must include the budget, costume ideas, set design, etc.  Any ideas on how to begin this?

Expert Answers
jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A production of "The Glass Menagerie" is not all that demanding in terms of set design, props or costumes. First, read this:

The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire-escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation. The fire-escape is included in the set - that is, the landing of it and steps descending from it.

At the rise of the curtain, the audience is faced with the dark, grim rear wall of the Wingfield tenement. This building, which runs parallel to the footlights, is flanked on both sides by dark, narrow alleys which run into murky canyons of tangled clothes-lines, garbage cans, and the sinister lattice-work of neighbouring fire-escapes.

Downstage is the living-room, which also serves as a sleeping-room for Laura, the sofa is unfolding to make her bed. Upstage, centre, and divided by a wide arch or second proscenium with transparent faded portières (or second curtain), is the dining-room. In an old fashioned what-not in the living-room are seen scores of transparent glass animals. A blown-up photograph of the father hangs on the wall of the living-room, facing the audience, to the left of the archway. It is the face of a very handsome young man in a doughboy's First World War cap.

The audience hears and sees the opening scene in the dining-room through both the transparent fourth wall of the building and the transparent gauze portières of the dining-room arch. It is during this revealing scene that the fourth wall slowly ascends out of sight. This transparent exterior wall is not brought down again until the very end of the play, during Tom' s final speech.

So, in terms of the apartment, the most important things are the living-room, which also serves as Laura's sleeping room, some tables and chairs and a sofa. And, of course, you will need a cabinet that holds Laura's little glass animals. The living-room can be changed into a dining room later in the play, so you really don't have to go through the complicated use "transparent gauze portières" discussed in Williams' last paragraph above.

You will definitely need some kind of construction that suggests a fire escape landing.

Williams describes Amanda's clothes and accessories in great detail, but adherence to these descriptions are not all that important (at least in my opinion). These are poor people, and their clothing is simple, decidedly not stylish or very tasteful and at least a bit tattered. Because Tom goes out to work every day, he is the best dressed, yet still you can keep it simple: nice slacks, a dress shirt, and an overcoat.

In terms of budget, my school puts together a stage crew that assembles everything, so the costs are kept to a bare minimum. We just scrounge around for props and lumber used in past plays.

Good luck.