When I was 14 years old, I took my first high school drama class. The first play my teacher had us read was The Glass Menagerie. She said it was written by a man named Tennessee Williams, and claimed that he was one of the greatest American playwrights. That information was either here, nor there, to me at the time. I didn't know how much I loved to write. I was consumed with performing, focusing more on how my character's dialogue was going to be portrayed, and not why the words were ever even written in the first place. Even though I loved performing, and had been writing for some time creatively, I didn't know that I HAD to write. This all changed with The Glass Menagerie.
I remember reading Laura Wingfield's words and painting a mental picture of her in my mind, of what she looked like, how she dressed, and the expressions I imagined were on her face when she spoke. That same image is still in my mind today. It's my picture of her life, painted for me by the words Tennessee wrote. Growing up, I felt like Laura in some ways, and I believe, that's why I was impacted so. I felt like I was different from everyone else. Most of my friends did not have an artistic bone in their body. I could never describe it back then, but I had this passion burning inside me to create. I didn't have the confidence to admit I had to, and needed to write, until much later in life.
Tennessee's writing of The Glass Menagerie showed me that the best source for writing a good story is yourself. Tennessee put parts of himself in almost every character he wrote. People have said that he was too personal at times. For me, his writing allowed me to feel like I fit in. I saw that part of myself that I felt didn't belong, that need to write, in Tennessee.
I realized that there was someone else out their in the world who had the urges like I, to tell stories of life, but through the words of someone else. A character that I could create to tell whatever story of my life that I wanted to tell. The stories were already written in my mind. The source was already there. I remember thinking to myself, how much I loved Tennessee's words. His words were so real.
When I was taught of the parallel between Laura, Tom, and Amanda to Tennessee's own relationship with his sister Rose, and his mother, is when the flame really began to burn. I realized that Tennessee didn't go out seeking inspiration to write. He just had to. It was always there, whether he liked it, or not.
To those who know The Glass Menagerie, you can see the parallels to his early life and the play he wrote here: Early Tennessee