Friday, May 20, 2011

Blow Out Your Candles

The Glass Menagerie (1944)
by Tennessee Williams

I didn't go to the moon, I went much further - for time is the longest distance between two places.  Not long after that I was fired for writing a poem on the lid of a shoe-box.  I left Saint Louis.  I descended the steps of this fire escape for a last time and followed, from then on, in my father's footsteps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space.  I traveled around a great deal.  The cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves that were brightly colored but torn away from the branches.  I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something.  It always came upon me unawares, taking me altogether by surprise.  Perhaps it was a familiar piece of music.  Perhaps it was only a piece of transparent glass.  Perhaps I am walking along a street at night, in some strange city, before I have found companions.  I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is sold.  The window is filled with pieces of colored glass, tiny transparent bottles in delicate colors, like bits of a shattered rainbow.  Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes.  Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!  I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger - anything that can blow your candles out!  For nowadays the world is lit by lightning!  Blow out your candles, Laura - and so goodbye ...

This post could be categorized in "Roles I Wish I Could Play, But I'm Too Old for Them Now."  Sigh ... I would've LOVED to have performed the role of Tom in The Glass Menagerie.  A beautiful "memory play" - Tom's recollection of his mother and sister - and my personal favorite of the brilliant Tennessee Williams' works.  I'm sure you're familiar with the piece.  If not, I urge you to see it on stage or watch one of the numerous screen versions - it's an astounding play.  It begins and ends with soliloquies delivered by Tom ... the speech above concludes the play, which opens with Tom's famous lines -

Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.

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