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From “Trivial Little Comedy” to “Legitimate Magic”: Music and the Making of The Glass Menagerie

From “Trivial Little Comedy” to “Legitimate Magic”: Music and the Making of The Glass... GAbe C. Al FIer I From “Trivial l ittle Comedy” to “l egitimate m agic”: m usic and the m aking of The Glass Menagerie The Glass Menagerie was Tennessee Williams’s first success, both com- mercial and critical, and remains one of the most frequently revived of all American plays. For its original production, Williams himself recruited master theater composer Paul bowles to write an original score that helped turn “a trivial little comedy of domestic tribulation” into the “legitimate magic” that earned it a Drama Critics’ Circle Award and established it firmly among the great plays of the postwar period. An examination of bowles’s Menagerie score adds new depth to our under- standing of one of the most storied premieres in American theater his- tory, of the play itself, and of the extent to which music aided Williams’s progressive vision for “a new, plastic theater” influenced by techniques and aesthetics of the cinema. The “Cinematization” of the American Theater In a 1938 letter “To All Directors, Actors, Designers, and Producers on the Federal Theatre Project [FTP],” Hallie Flanagan, the project’s director, wrote: “The movies have beaten realism at its own game. . . . Just as architec- ture http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Music University of Illinois Press

From “Trivial Little Comedy” to “Legitimate Magic”: Music and the Making of The Glass Menagerie

American Music , Volume 35 (2) – Aug 30, 2017

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1945-2349

Abstract

GAbe C. Al FIer I From “Trivial l ittle Comedy” to “l egitimate m agic”: m usic and the m aking of The Glass Menagerie The Glass Menagerie was Tennessee Williams’s first success, both com- mercial and critical, and remains one of the most frequently revived of all American plays. For its original production, Williams himself recruited master theater composer Paul bowles to write an original score that helped turn “a trivial little comedy of domestic tribulation” into the “legitimate magic” that earned it a Drama Critics’ Circle Award and established it firmly among the great plays of the postwar period. An examination of bowles’s Menagerie score adds new depth to our under- standing of one of the most storied premieres in American theater his- tory, of the play itself, and of the extent to which music aided Williams’s progressive vision for “a new, plastic theater” influenced by techniques and aesthetics of the cinema. The “Cinematization” of the American Theater In a 1938 letter “To All Directors, Actors, Designers, and Producers on the Federal Theatre Project [FTP],” Hallie Flanagan, the project’s director, wrote: “The movies have beaten realism at its own game. . . . Just as architec- ture

Journal

American MusicUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Aug 30, 2017

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