English teacher debuts in lead role in UNI production today

By: Albie Nicol

A story about the power memories hold and the struggle with accepting difficult realities, Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” is a production that has and continues to mesmerize audiences, and starting Thursday, Feb. 25, English teacher Michelle Rathe, stars in a UNI production of this classic as Amanda, the mother of the family portrayed in the play.

“She has maturity. She has keen intelligence and a sense of humor and a connection to people,” UNI professor and play director Richard Glockner said of Rathe’s experience after many years of directing school plays. “[She] certainly has an understanding of dramatic structure.”

Months of preparation have gone into the performance, and as two canvas-covered tables set the stage for rehearsal on Wednesday, Feb. 17, Rathe started warming up and relaxing into the creative space with her three other cast mates, and Glockner told them to “let go of all the day’s stress.” Rathe sighed heavily as she began her warm up and transitioning from her world of students to that of Amanda.

“I’m always impressed in terms of how much she cares about all of you, and how much time and effort she devotes to you, y’know?” Glockner said while overlooking the actors in the Strayer Wood Theatre. “I think that’s something also in the character of Amanda. She chooses to keep this family going.”

“The Glass Menagerie” unravels the memories of Tom as he remembers living in an apartment with his socially awkward sister, Laura, and his overbearing mother, Amanda. After being abandoned by her husband, Amanda constantly reflects on her past and puts pressure on both of her children to somehow make a better life for the family. Tom, who works in a factory to support the family, feels torn between his desire for a more fulfilling life and his obligation to take care of his mother and sister.

Back at school on a day following the play practice, Rathe regarded her role and admitted Amanda wasn’t necessarily something she dreamed of. “I have a harsher personality, so it doesn’t surprise me, but this kind of a role, is it something I could have seen myself doing? Yes,” she nodded, looking around her classroom. “I may not have seen myself being Amanda, but this type of persona, yes.”

And as she finished those words, a senior student of hers arrived to ask for his letter of recommendation for a theater scholarship at University of Iowa. Rathe smiled as she spoke with him about having it done tomorrow, the affection in her tone revealing a glimpse into what the next two weekends may reveal in her role as another compassionate persona.

Performance Dates:

Feb. 25 – 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 26 – 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 27 – 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 28 – 2 p.m.

March 4 – 7:30 p.m.

March 5 – 7:30 p.m.

March 6 – 2 p.m.

Tickets: 

Youth is $15 (ages 2-18)

Adult is $22 (18+)

Tickets are available at the box office, which is open Monday-Friday noon.-5 p.m. It’s also open one hour before performances.

Tickets are also available by calling the box office at 319-273-4849 during office hours or on the UNITix Website: http://www.vpaf.uni.edu/unitix/

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