by Zaire Saunders
After a year of waiting, audiences will have a chance to see Tennessee Williams’ play, “The Glass Menagerie,” brought to the stage by director Monica White Ndounou this year March 10 – 26, at the Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco.
This monumental piece of work – premiering originally in 1944 – will be brought to life through the African-American Shakespeare Company. Working tirelessly since auditions, this cast of gifted Black actors can’t wait to show theater-goers their take on the theatrical production.
I’m honored to highlight one of the leads of the play: Layce Lynne Kieu, who will be playing the role of Amanda Wingfield – a metaphorical stand-in for Williams’ real life mother. I took a moment to gain some insights into Kieu’s life and the play she will be starring in.
Firstly, it would be a discredit to say Layce Lynne Kieu’s career just starts at the role of Amanda. She is a well-rounded mogul in the realm of arts; from films, commercials, modeling and theater, Lynne is a renaissance woman.
Most artists grant their immediate love to their crafts from an outside source. For James Baldwin, he claimed it was a white school teacher by the name of Bill Miller.
“Believe it or not, (I got my start from my) choir teacher. She needed an extra person in her show. The first time I stepped on that stage, it was love and I knew it was something I couldn’t stop doing.”
Having been stalled an entire year from the original set date, one might wonder if there might have been any extra time to imbue herself into the character, to prepare herself for the role. But given the hectic years we’ve all endured since the pandemic, her answer was unsurprisingly obvious: “We just started our rehearsals this month (February), but for me it started as soon as I found out that African American Shakespeare would be auditioning for this play.”
When the original production of the play opened up in 1944, it was met with critical acclaim, but that was a different audience. No doubt in the 1940s it was a mostly white audience attending the production. Now with the play in the hands of the African-American Shakespeare Company, and an all Black cast, it’s expected that the play will in at least some way speak to the hearts and souls of Black people.
“I don’t want to give away too much, but you have someone stuck in the past that can’t tell the difference between now and then, another who is closed off in their own little world and another begging for recognition for a life they once had. I can’t wait to see how you interpret each of our characters.
“I feel that they will definitely see some of themselves in this play. A chance to see a bit of history. I’m hoping they will feel our struggles but also feel connected to the character’s through their own life experiences.”
For more information on tickets and available shows check out cityboxoffice.com
Zaire Saunders is the assistant copy editor and reporter for the SF Bay View Community Journalism Program.