HOUSTON -- "I don't hate this woman. I see a dignity in her, being a trouper. She's a single mother who, to the best of her understanding, is trying to survive, even though she doesn't quite know how. This touches me," says Jeannette Clift George about Amanda Wingfield, the aging Southern belle of a matriarch that dominates, or wants to dominate, The Glass Menagerie.
Tennessee Williams' heartbreaking 1944 memory play, in which Amanda, despite sincere intentions, inadvertently smothers her delicate daughter Laura and frustrates her ambivalent participant/observer son Tom, is currently being revived in Houston at the A. D. Players. Having opened February 13, it continues through March 22.
"Amanda didn't run home," George continues. "She didn't give up. Maybe she should have. Oh, the human frailty in her!"
A veteran actress, George has appeared with the New York Shakespeare Company, the Arena Stage in Washington, and the Alley Theatre in Houston. She's been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her debut film, The Hiding Place. But she cites her biggest accomplishment as founder and artistic director of the A. D. Players, a 30-year-old professional Christian theater.
The Glass Menagerie as a Christian piece? "I hope audiences will go away a little more forgiving, not only of other people but of themselves. You can't espouse more Christian values than that." George also finds the play, particularly through Amanda, a human comedy of sorts. "Amanda is in an era for which her past didn't prepare her. She's doing the best she knows how by her training. But her training is outdated. So, in certain moments, a humor of exasperation sets in."
The Glass Menagerie runs February 13 - March 22 at the A. D. Players in Houston. For tickets, $16, call (713) 526-2721.
By Peter Szatmary