Memory & Memoir: Q&A with the Glass Cast
By Bridgette Ramirez
March 18, 2019
What if our actors followed the footsteps of their playwright? Tennessee Williams is famous for writing from his own life and memories in The Glass Menagerie, so we wondered what stories our Glass cast would share if given the same opportunity. Hear from our Resident Artists about their childhood experiences and how those experiences shaped them as the people and actors we know today.
Can you share a significant family memory from when you were a child? Why do you think you remember it?
Deborah Strang (Amanda Wingfield): My mother was a remarkable, multi-faceted woman, and I use her in almost every character I create. I remember one day when the stress of caring for 5 children must have tipped her a bit over the edge. She pushed all of the furniture back out of her way, put on a pair of roller skates and madly, insanely skated back and forth through the house totally ignoring us as we ran screaming after her, all of us in shock and awe. I remember it because it’s the clearest image of abandon that I have ever known.
Rafael Goldstein (Tom Wingfield): My father would bring plays home and have my sisters, my mother, and I read them out loud. We’d sit in the living room, split up the roles, and act the hell out of whatever we were reading. He brought home Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape one night and that play blew my mind. It was violent, the characters were gritty, and the story was so sad. He had me read the lead role of Yank. We were all deeply affected by the play and we had a great time. It was the first time that I had encountered an adult play in a way that felt artistically mature. It felt like an important stage of evolution.
Erika Soto (Laura Wingfield): I remember when I found out that my mother was pregnant with my little brother. I was 9 years old and had been the only child until then. The only grandchild, too. One day my stepdad picked me up from school and asked me to open the glove compartment of his truck. Inside was a baby’s bottle. He asked me what I thought it could be for. For a minute I thought for me, but realized that was very awkward because I was 9 years old! He said it was for the baby. “The baby?” “Yes. The baby.” The baby Mom was going to have soon. OH. MY. GOD. MY BODY FELT LIKE A BALLOON SWELLING UP VERY, VERY FAST! It was amazing. There was someone coming. Someone I didn’t even know I’d been waiting for for so, so, so long. The idea of a jealous sibling has been and always was preposterous. Being a big sister felt like the BEST. THING. EVER. I remember this because…well, it literally changed my life and how I see it. My brother was my little everything. Soon after having him my mom got pregnant again, so he became even more my responsibility, and I haven’t stopped being an obnoxious mini-mom ever since. It’s great.
Kasey Mahaffy (Jim O’Connor): The greatest memory of my childhood was on our annual family trip to the high desert of central Oregon. We’d rent a house for a week and spend our days biking and laying out by the pool; nighttimes were reserved for cutthroat Uno matches and particularly salacious reruns of DATELINE. One year, the house we rented came with a record player and a pair of giant standing speakers. However, the only record in the house was Dionne Warwick’s “Promises Promises” – an odd fit for four teenage boys in the summer of 1987. My eldest brother Kevin thought this was hilarious and immediately began to blast that title track morning, noon and night, all throughout the house. Burt Bacharach’s charge of brass horns became our sunrise reveille. Dionne’s triumphant, “Promises, promises can just destroy your liiiiiiiiiiife!” blared on as we tucked ourselves into bed. “IT’S CERTAINLY DESTROYING MINE,” my mother shouted through her toothbrush. All the while, my brother Kevin lay crouched by the record player, maniacally cackling. We were on vacation for for 7 days in that house. He must’ve played that song 567 times. My poor parents. On the last day, Kevin fired up the record player for one final go, and the song began to skip. We had literally worn the vinyl out. Now whenever I hear that song I just hit the deck.
If you were to write an autobiographical play like Tennessee Williams, what would the title be? What would it be about?
Deborah: The Leap. About a woman who never knew what she wanted but found it anyway just by taking the leap.
Rafael: When I was a kid, I knew, didn’t think, I KNEW that I was a werewolf. I would wear a mask when I was out and about with my family. I would growl at the camera on “photo day” at school. I’d howl at the moon. I’d call the play FERAL.
Erika: I have fantasized about writing an actor memoir called Real to Slight Character (which is what is most often in the breakdown/description of roles I audition for). I love the idea that your career opportunities can be boiled down to fitting in a category that labels you as “real” and “slight character.” The concept and terminology seem hilarious to me and, in a way, accurate! I am real. I am a slight character. So I think that would be it. Or Confessions of a Grown-Ass Drama Queen.
Kasey: It would be titled UNAPOLOGETICALLY GINGER, and would basically be just a collection of mistakes I’ve made along the way, but in the end it turns out I don’t give a sh!t because I am who I am.
We enjoyed getting to know a bit more about our actors, and we hope you did too! See our actors live on stage for The Glass Menagerie through April 26. Tickets available now!