The Glass Cage
By J.B. Priestley
Directed by Lou Jacob
September 4th 2008 through November 9th 2008
The Mint Theater
311 West 43rd St, 3rd floor
“For anyone who cares about continuity in theater history, who wants to see connections between playwrights over centuries, the Mint Theater Company is heroic…For example, J.B. Priestley’s 1957 family drama THE GLASS CAGE is arguably the missing link between Ibsen’s bourgeois tragedies and the moody domestic-subversion shockers of Joe Orton and Harold Pinter,”1 writes David Cote In Time Out New York.
Penned in 1957, THE GLASS CAGE tells the story of a 1906 Toronto clan and the dangers they face in letting old family wounds go unattended. Priestley’s drama was first brought to light in 2001 when his son Tom recommended it for a reading as part of a Priestley Festival. A full production followed in 2007 at the Royal Theatre, Northampton.
One year later, this masterwork was finally introduced to American audiences in a production that went on to win a Lucille Lortel award for Roger Hanna’s “confining set design of gilded pipes and glowering gas lamps.”2
“Expertly staged by Lou Jacob and beautifully acted by an ensemble of actors who slip into their period roles with ease, THE GLASS CAGE represents yet another fascinating literary exhumation from this invaluable theater company.”3
More photos »
- David McBane Gerry Bamman
- Malcolm McBane Jack Wetherall
- Mildred McBane Robin Moseley
- Elspie McBane Sandra Struthers-Clerc
- John Harvey Chad Hoeppner
- Bridget Fiana Toibin
- Dr. Gratton Chet Carlin
- Jean McBane Jeanine Serralles
- Angus McBane Saxon Palmer
- Douglas McBane Michael Crane / Aaron Krohn
- Set Design Roger Hanna
- Costume Design Camille Assaf
- Lighting Design Marcus Doshi
- Sound Design Lindsay Jones
- Properties Design Deborah Gaouette
Stuart Howard, Amy Schecter & Paul Hardt
- Production Stage Manager Brian Maschka
- Assistant Stage Manager Andrea Jo Martin
- Press Representative David Gersten & Associates
- Illustration Stefano Imbert
- Graphics Hunter Kaczorowski
PATRICIA DENISON, BARNARD COLLEGE
In 1956, John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger burst onto the London stage, shattering the drama that had come before and defining what would follow. In Osborne’s play, Jimmy Porter, the first of the “angries,” dismisses J.B. Priestley with a snide and callow slur:
“He’s like Daddy—still casting well-fed glances back to the Edwardian twilight from his comfortable, disenfranchised wilderness….”
Is The Glass Cage , a play, an answer to Osborne’s insult? London’s Evening Standard newspaper thought so, and headlined their review: “The Mellow Old Man delivers a Counter-Blast.”
Patricia Denison, editor of “John Osborne: A Casebook,” discusses the relationship between Priestley and Osborne, and the seismic shift that occurred in the drama of the ’50’s. Denison teaches dramatic literature in the departments of English and Theatre at Barnard College.
EDWARD MENDELSON, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
Priestley was fascinated with the Edwardian period of British history (1901-1914). Many of his plays were set during that era and he even wrote a social history of the time. “The Edwardians,” a volume rich with illustrations and photographs, was published in 1970.
Edward Mendelson, professor of English and Comparative Literature and the Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, discusses the Edwardian Era.
THOMAS PRIESTLEY: SON OF THE AUTHOR
Tom Priestley is the guardian of his father’s estate and is responsible for THE GLASS CAGE resurfacing in London in the last decade. He discusses Priestley’s life and work.
BARBARA CHILCOTT: FROM THE ORIGINAL CAST OF THE GLASS CAGE
Priestley wrote THE GLASS CAGE after meeting a trio of renowned Canadian actors, the brothers Donald and Murray Davis, and their sister, Barbara Chilcott, founders of the Crest Theatre in Toronto. Priestley admired their strong family resemblance and dark, brooding good looks and decided to write this play for them which premiered at the Crest Theatre and was a smash success. Success secured a transfer to London’s Piccadilly Theatre, where Ms. Chilcott took the town by storm:
“The most exciting young actress to hit London in months!” Derek Monsey, The Sunday Express 1957
Barbara Chilcott visits Mint Theater for the American Premiere of THE GLASS CAGE and speaks about meeting Priestley, performing the play in Toronto and London and her extraordinary six-decade career.
PAUL ILLIDGE, AUTHOR OF "GLASS CAGE: THE CREST THEATRE STORY"
The Crest Theatre was the beginning of homegrown theater in Canada. A generation of Canadian theater artists began their careers at the Crest. Priestley’s play had such a significant impact on the Crest that Paul Illidge named his history of the theater after the play.
"TIME AND THE PRIESTLEYS", FILM SCREENING
A short documentary made by Tom Priestley and his father in 1984, as J.B. was approaching his 90th birthday. The screening was hosted by Tom Priestley who took questions after the showing.