American playwright Tennessee Williams rose from obscurity in 1945 when his play, "The Glass Menagerie," opened on Broadway. This melancholy, semi-autobiographical memory play tells the story of a family struggling with the burdens of love.

American playwright Tennessee Williams rose from obscurity in 1945 when his play, "The Glass Menagerie," opened on Broadway. This melancholy, semi-autobiographical memory play tells the story of a family struggling with the burdens of love.

In it, there's Tom, the restless dreamer, his fragile, pathologically shy sister Laura and their domineering mother, Amanda, a faded Southern belle desperate to find a suitor for her daughter. When a gentleman caller comes for dinner, what transpires over the course of the evening changes the family's lives forever. The New York Times called it "a certifiable masterpiece."

“The complexity of the characters and the poetry of the language is what drew me to this play,” says director James Edmondson in a press release. “Williams tackles human isolation, universal longing and the courage of small lives. His storytelling style, which combines realism with theatricality, is compelling.”

The Theatre Arts program of the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University will present “The Glass Menagerie” at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, Feb. 19-21 and Feb. 26-28, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 28 and March 1, in the Center Square Theatre on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland. 

Tickets cost $21, $18 for seniors, $6 for students, and can be purchased at the Performing Arts box office in the lobby of the SOU Music Recital Hall. The box office is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and two hours before each performance. Tickets also can be purchased online at sou.edu/performingarts or by calling 541-552-6348.

Edmondson's career as an actor and director stretches back to 1971. In the past, he's directed eight productions for SOU, most recently “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Cyrano Project.” In his 38 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Edmondson directed 34 productions and acted in nearly 100 roles, including Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman” and Richard in “Richard II.” He has worked for the Indiana Repertory Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theater and Utah Shakespeare Festival, among others.

The SOU cast features Rebecca Curtis as Laura, Tamra Mathias as Amanda, Henry Steelhammer as Tom and Devin White as the dinner guest.

“This cast has a depth of understanding and compassion and the willingness to take risks,” Edmondson says. “They are gaining a deeper understanding of another time in American life.”

Scenic design is by Marc Wheeler, costume designs are by Shannon Benn, lighting design is by Sarah Schwartz and sound design is by Jonathan Pratt. Assistant director is Natalia Regalia-Affinito, technical direction is by J.C. Leyson and stage manager is Sabrina Schmit.