Behind the Scenes of the Glass Menagerie

By Cassaundra Mariotti

March 12 here at the Ammerman campus, The glass Menagerie, written by Tennessee Williams , will be premiering through out the week. The play was written in 1944 by Tennessee Williams, about four main characters, Amanda, Laura, Tom and Jim O’Connor who all portray life in diverse thoughts. The students in the costume department play a very important role in the organization process of preparing for the next upcoming play. Preparing for the plays is hard work and very time consuming, but it must be done. With the help of the students, the direction of Mr. Wittreich and the creative works of Mr. Wittkamper, the show will go on.

The characters in the play appear in very essential ways, Amanda is the mother of Laura and Tom. Amanda is an original southern belle, a single mom who only wishes the best for her daughter and son. Laura is a very shy young lady who is crippled from childhood and spends her time making glass collectibles. Tom is the older brother who brings home the money, is an aspiring poet and also narrates the play. This play is the smallest play of the semester here at the Ammerman campus, but it still in tales a lot of wok that must be perfected.

A world of work is occurring in the room across the hall from Islip Arts 119, where student plays are being performed. The hum of sewing machines echo’s in the halls outside the busy room, where artists sketch costume designs for upcoming student productions, and seamstresses and their supervisor work together to produce the costumes. Mr. Wittkamper, who is the head of the costume shop directs the students in how to design costumes with the great knowledge of art and skill.

The costume shop is filled with fifteen to twenty sewing machines, Mannequins of similar shapes and tons of fabric waiting to be sewn together. Most of the fabrics are very old fashion and of an antique style. The costumes for this particular play are of a 1920 style. Most of the plays that are performed use very old fashion clothing. All of the students are able to participate in helping out with the costume making and organization. The students are sewing, stitching and ironing. These students are getting a great deal of knowledge to know what it is like to work behind the scenes of a major play.

During after hours the student’s next task was to go down to the storage room and do a great deal of organization. Each item of clothing was put together with its necessary category in little bins or on clothing racks. The storage room is filled with costumes from all different plays. Different centuries, cultures and clothing from women’s bras to men’s sleep wear. Twice a week eleven students get together to help organize, clean and prepare for the next upcoming play. These students are carrying and pushing heavy dressing racks to the acquired dressing rooms, cleaning the costume shop, dyeing the clothing for the costumes, sewing the clothing and making sure that everything is perfect. These students deserve a lot of credit for what they do behind the scenes of a major play. They are working hard to become of importance in their future.

Mr. Wittkamper, the head of the costume department contributes all of his time and effort into preparing for the upcoming plays. Mr. Wittkamper is the major contributor into making most of the costumes for the students. His sweat and tears are put into his work. He puts his trust into his students as well, to finish his work of art. Mr. Wittkamper stated, “This is a good learning experience for the students.” The students tend to have a lot of team work when it comes to preparing for this play. I was able to see two of the students sewing a dress and a jacket together. Another lady was drawing a skirt for the character Amanda. Mr. Wittkamper proceeded to make his own ruffles for one of the dresses, dying them and making sure they were the right length for the dress. There is a lot of creativity that goes into the work of a desired fashion designing.

Thursday February 26th was the night of the rehearsal of the Glass Menagerie. Mr. Wittreich, the director of the play attended along with three of the students acting in the play. Before the rehearsal began the students had to prepare to do their warm-ups on the small stage they were given. They proceeded to lye on the floor giving themselves relaxation through their bodies. Not enough people realize what it takes to perform in a play, the idea of rehearsing is very important, because one must be very relaxed when getting ready to perform. The three students continued to repeat different words in riddles one after another. They created vibrating sounds through their mouths to help the tension in their nerves. This rehearsal was mainly to see if the stage props were in their appropriate positions and that the characters were in good formation. I was able to see the rehearsal of the scene when Laura is introduced to the gentleman caller and she slowly falls in love with him.

There is a lot of hard work and effort put into the preparation of the plays at SCCC. The students that help put these plays together should be recognized for their work. Next time you go see a play remember what it takes to prepare what you are watching. Come see the Glass Menagerie written by Tennessee Williams on March 12th.

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