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The Glass Menagerie

A review of the play & hypothetical client case study.

I attended Trinity Theatre’s current presentation of The Glass Menagerie last night. Tennessee Williams wrote the original play in 1944, based on strong autobiographical elements. Having similar life experiences, I was quite intrigued to see it for myself. I walked into it knowing it had something to do with a dysfunctional family & perception of events. I also hold several coaching certifications, so I wanted to observe the play last night & then think about it from a coaching/client perspective this morning. How would I handle someone like that? Would I even take on such a client or make a referral? Before I begin, I must say, in comparison, it was a nice reminder to me of how much progress my family has made over the years in communication, boundaries, respect & education regarding mental health, disability rights, etc. We are doing great!

PLEASE NOTE – This is just my perspective (tongue in cheek) & the entire play is about perspective. So, I invite you to check it out & experience it for yourself & form your own opinion about these characters & what’s going on between them. There is so much to learn from this tale. This may be a spoiler alert. Let the games begin!

The cast did a wonderful job with this script. It was a one scene stage but our imagination was transported away with the lighting, music, their props & costumes, but most importantly the way they interacted with one another and presented the material. As I looked around & listened, everyone in the audience truly got involved in the story. The setting was St. Louis 1937.

The mother, Amanda:

PLAY: Amanda was so realistic with her screaming, she set off so many triggers for my sister & I, we simply had to laugh about it afterwards. She was a concerned yet manipulative Christian mother who was really a Scarlett O’Hara who really wanted everything to be about her & her ultimate welfare. If she had only asked what her children had wanted for themselves instead of plotting it for them, or just gone out & looked out for her own happiness & just been a good role model, her plans would not have backfired so drastically. However, yelling, punishing & guilt in the name of protecting her loved ones seemed to be the behavior traits that she knows.

CLIENT: I’ve met several people like this personally & professionally. I say person because it is not always a “controlling mother”. I have learned from experience that Change occurs when we have the Triple A’s in place: Awareness, Acceptance & Action. This person is either stuck in the blame game, where they honestly believe it is not their fault, or they are so focused on fixing everyone else, they just don’t have time to fix their own life; either way, they may not be Aware, & without that, they cannot Accept responsibility for their current emotions or actions, & thus begin to take control of their life. Most of the time this is a good referral to my therapy friends due to this level of anger & manipulation going on, but at a lower/calmer degree this can be a great coaching client who just needs some redirection, perspective shifts & reframes to help him/her to get out of the co-dependent relationships they are in.

Laura, the extremely shy & disabled daughter:

PLAY: I found Laura quite interesting. Every time she had attempted to do something with her life & she had hit a small obstacle or failure, she took it personally or made a mountain out of a molehill (most likely mimicking her mother) & she immediately quit & hide, never attempting again. This did not allow for her to succeed, & instead of taking responsibility for herself, or her decisions, she deceived her family by not telling the truth, which is in itself a manipulation & a personal/professional choice which snowballed on her. It’s quite sad really, the family continually enabling her to be sickly & cared for, & she was continually hiding from the world. The symbol of the fabled glass unicorn with the broken horn was perfect for her because it is fragile & nonexistent and yet … once treated poorly, easily shattered. Her gentleman caller, Jim, was correct in calling her out on low self-esteem (most likely due to her over bearing mother) and she was really blossoming with his attention. She gave it to Jim so he would remember her, much like her mother’s photograph had been found with one of her many widowed suitors. At the end it seems we are left knowing Laura is trapped in a world from which she will never break free from because she feels safe there by choice.

CLIENT: Laura is a perfect coaching client! However, she needs to take ACTION!! She just needs to get the courage to walk out of the house & into my office or pick up the phone & call. If she had the secret desire to go to the museum, the park or the zoo, then we know she can do it when she gets away from her mother! She wants a better life for herself AND it is not being a unicorn or a typist! Call me Laura, please! 210-218-2075!! Break free, sister!

Jim, the gentleman caller:

PLAY: Jim was actually a high school friend of Laura’s & someone she had been in-love with secretly, back in the day. What are the odds? Well, her brother Tom knew! This is why he had invited him to dinner! However, Tom never told him that he was coming to dinner to meet a lady & Jim never disclosed that he was engaged, so it gets a wee bit squirrely … especially when Jim & Laura hit it off & share a lip lock! The deception gets deeper & deeper with these people. Poor Betty! Oh, the humanity! The audience loved it!

CLIENT: Jim has actually been taking classes in public speaking and is studying television & radio, so my guess is he plans to be a huge communications major or famous life coach of some sort. He is practically coaching while on stage! If he needs coaching, it is in one of two things, professional development or possibly relationship coaching down the road if he keeps smooching other ladies. Have I helped someone like Jim? I have assisted many professionals as they are going through life transitions. I’d be happy to share a cup of coffee with him & discuss it. I do follow a “no kissing” policy with clients, though. Sorry, Jim.

Tom, the disgruntled son & brother:

PLAY: Tom was working in a factory but was really a poet and had the soul of an adventurer was also the narrator & main character of our stage production. He felt trapped in this tiny apartment, taking care of his family & wished for a better life for himself, BUT not necessarily for his family. He kept going to the “movies” at night to escape his ho hum daily life, but we suspect he is up to no good during this time (hints of alcohol or drugs). Upon his mother’s request, he goes along with a plan to introduce her to a man to wed, so he can escape, as he secretly wishes to abandon them all & be free like his Father. He has a personal struggle between standing up for himself and establishing boundaries, & living his own adventurous life as a merchant marine. He eventually does disappear, only to be haunted by the memory of the sister that he abandoned. With guilt like that, how can anyone ever enjoy happiness, even after they find it? Tom never does.

CLIENT: Tom is the perfect grief recovery program client. Unresolved, complex grief may lead to depression and he could be self-medicating, so the time to act is now. Tom has also hit all of the triple A’s of Change (he is so ready – he is jumping on a dang boat to go around the world)! So it would be a bonus for him & his family to work with him as he would not have to join the merchant marine & escape his misery to find happiness. Instead, all he’d have to do is take a 7- week course. Tom, you may find me at www.soulnourishing.com. Let’s put some sunshine back into your life!

The absent Father:

PLAY: The Father who “worked for the telephone company and fell in love with long distance” was probably one of the best jokes and yet the saddest throughout the play. He continued to “show up” as needed. He did figure out the magic trick of how to get out of a nailed coffin without removing a nail. The question was posed to the audience by the son during one of his drunken stupors. One wonders if the Father too has been haunted by the memories of his children that he chose to abandon. I am sure he was, but we never got an answer. Nobody got away clean in this tale of memory & morality.

CLIENT: I can work with clients remotely via the telephone, Face Time, Skype or Google Chat if you are unable to meet face to face. However, not all programs allow this option, so please discuss before enrolling.

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Many thanks again to Trinity Theatre for providing tickets so that I may be able to write about this play! I asked my group some questions directly afterwards about their perception on the play. Everyone enjoyed it, despite the heavy subject matter & the unknown burping audience member. *LOL*  Maybe it was just the Vitrola? The play was not meant to be satire, but humor is one of my coping mechanisms. There were moments of levity in the script too, to create laughter, & lots of time for self-reflection &/or time to consider how may I improve how I interact with others in my own life? I think the best take home message I thought of early this morning was “Perhaps I can allow others to take care of themselves instead of trying to make things happen my way.”

I strongly encourage you to attend for yourself & see this wonderful play during the remainder of their dates! Just $10. Cash or check. Located at 715 Stadium Drive in the Ruth Taylor Theatre Building. Support the local arts!

Wednesday Oct. 8th, 7pm

Thursday Oct. 9th, 7pm

Friday Oct. 10th, 8pm

Saturday Oct. 11th, 8pm

Details:

http://new.trinity.edu/academics/departments/human-communication-and-theatre/theatre/current-season

I would love to hear what you come up with after watching this play. If you do, feel free to comment below.

In love & light,

Betsey

Elizabeth Garland, M.S., CPLC, MNLP, CGRS

Founder and Personal Development Coach with Soul Nourishing, LLC

www.soulnourishing.com

Copyright 2014 Soul Nourishing

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Phone Number : 210.218.2075