The story of a young man, his fragile sister and his mother who constantly relives her past will come to the John Waldron Arts Center Friday as Solarium Productions puts on its performance of the play “The Glass Menagerie.”
The semi-autobiographical story by Tennessee Williams is narrated by the character Tom Wingfield, an aspiring poet who spends most of his time working in a shoe factory to support his mother and sister.
His mother, a faded Southern belle named Amanda Wingfield, worries constantly about the future of her children. As a result she resents them to some extent, according to the script.
Tom’s little sister, Laura, suffered from polio when she was younger and now lives with a limp and an isolating inferiority complex.
“His struggle with responsibility for his mother and his sister and conflict with his responsibility and what he wants to do is something that everyone has to kind of deal with it at some point,” said Joseph Ermey, who plays Tom in the play.
The play is put on by Solarium Productions, a theater group founded and led by Bloomington high school students. Solarium has worked with students from other schools in the past and is open to working with them in the future, Ermey said.
Adda Port, who plays Laura in the play, said the student-led group allows members to be more hands-on.
“It’s important because I think you learn a lot of different skills in a student-led production,” Port said. “It takes a lot of teamwork and helping out your friends when things don’t go right.”
Clare Mattsson, who plays Amanda, said working with Solarium has made collaborating with other actors easier.
“There’s definitely a lot more connection because someone who’s directing one show is likely to be an actor in the next show,” Mattsson said. “People know each other.”
All proceeds from the play will be given directly to the Boys and Girls Club in order to support its facilities.
Director of the play Adam Diersing said giving back is essential to the students’ mission.
“Our mission is to give back to the community through community by creating something we really care about,” Diersing said. “Giving what we have, which is what we do here, back to the community is something that makes it really important to us.”
Diersing said the community aspect, the acting and the fact the group is student-led have been points of pride for Solarium.
“It’s a more unique experience than other theater I’ve done because nothing we’ve ever done has been because we felt like had to,” Diersing said. “Every project and every show has been fully because we were committed to making it, and so that’s been unlike anything else I’ve ever done in theater. It’s been a complete passion project from the very beginning.”
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