Q&A with Deborah Strang: Looking Back on The Glass Menagerie
By Bridgette Ramirez
February 5, 2019
This is not the first time that Resident Artist Deborah Strang has assumed the role of our fearless matriarch Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. A Noise Within staged the production over twenty years ago, and now we’re re-living the memory with Deborah as she reminisces about her past experience and talks about what’s new in this year’s production.
The last time A Noise Within put on The Glass Menagerie, you played Amanda and Geoff Elliott, the director, played Tom. What was that dynamic like?
Geoff and I have worked together for 27 years now. I’ve played his wife, his child, his sister, his mother, his sworn enemy, his maid. Our first Glass production was in 1997, so it was still pretty early in our history together – 5 years – and the first time we had such an intimate relationship on stage. But I remember the chemistry being immediate. Julia [Rodriguez-Elliott] was directing, and I’m madly in love with her, so there was an immediate trust and fearlessness to the whole adventure. Geoff is an amazing scene partner, he’s always present and open to whatever is happening in the moment.
Are you approaching your role differently this time around? If so, how?
My approach to any role always begins with the text – even for a play I’ve done in the past. I’m researching the period, I’m re-reading a Tennessee Williams biography, I’m listening to a wonderful Eudora Welty interview on YouTube to perfect the dialect. The difference happens in rehearsal – the cast, the set, the director are all different – so I try to stay as open as possible, know my given circumstances and respond to whatever Geoff, Rafael, Erika, and Kasey are throwing at me. I’m 22 years older than our first production. My body is different, I’m more confident, I have more craft, I’m a much better actor than I was 22 years ago.
What’s it like working with a cast of all Resident Artists?
Heaven. I love working with guest actors as well, but these three actors are the cream of A Noise Within. There’s so much trust and love and laughter in the room.
How are you and Amanda alike? How are you different?
We’re both from the South, although she is Deep South and I am hillbilly. We’re both willing to fight for what we think is right, and we are both fierce protectors of the people we love. Amanda is funnier than I am, and she’s a great storyteller. Amanda lives in the past, and yet she looks to the future with hope and determination. I live squarely in the here and now, often forgetting what I did yesterday and walking through whatever door opens in front of me with no plan or preparation.
What can audiences expect from the show?
It’s going to be a great ride. They are going to laugh. They are going to see themselves in this family.