Monday, June 25, 2007

Another Fool for Love

From the very beginning of the Fools pool of ideas and interpretation, Laura Wingfield has been on my mind. She is to me the greatest fool for love, and her story is as tragic as the real lobotomized sister of Tennessee Williams.

For a time I got to play her every night, and every night I was introduced to a boy I had never stopped being in love with, and every night he coaxed me out of a shell I thought would never open. Confidence is a funny thing; many foolish people are very confident, because they don't know any better. Maybe that is what makes them powerful: they are not fully aware of the boundaries present. Laura found her feet by absorbing the contagious, boundary-free confidence of the gentleman caller, and for the first time she nodded in agreement when told that she could do anything. And in that dim light where everything looks beautiful and everything sounds beautiful, Jim foolishly loved Laura too.

I once had a friend come to a performance and she admitted to me that even though she knew how the play would end, she kept hoping that this time, it would be different. She sat in the audience when Jim kissed Laura and wanted the play to end right there, and even kept hoping when Jim admitted to Laura that he would not call on her again. That is why I treasure having done that play: it's a sucker punch every time. Everyone is the fool in the end: Laura for loving Jim, Jim for loving Laura, Amanda for hoping Jim would marry Laura, Tom for bringing Jim at all, and above all, the audience; those people like my friend who happily go in and pray that this time, it will be different, only to leave having gotten a sharp one in the gut.

As for me, I cried every night, and I didn't even have to try. It's that sad to me. Rose Williams was Laura Wingfield, and she never got married, but she did have several nervous breakdowns and was eventually institutionalized and subsequently lobotomized. The Glass Menagerie was Tennessee Williams' most personal play, and it only makes me wonder if the shock of being yanked out of the obscurity of foolish love made Rose forever lose any grasp she ever had on reality.

Tennessee and Rose


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