Wendy Lippe, “Amanda Wingfield”

Each of the characters in The Glass Menagerie are multifaceted, but do you have a favorite character trait that you are able to explore in your particular role?

“What a great question! It’s an important one to think about too.  I think it’s Amanda’s narcissism, which like all narcissism, is rooted in vulnerability. I think the relational dilemma Amanda faces, as a result, is really interesting to explore.  She desperately tries to connect with her children and love them. She wants to be this loving, attentive mother, but she often feels resistance coming from her children as they try to be their own separate selves.  Amanda’s narcissism makes it difficult for her to tolerate her children’s separation and individuation process, and this then leads her to be harsh, overbearing, and controlling.”

Does Amanda have any traits that remind you of yourself? Do you have any life experiences that you can apply to the character?

“Let me just say that I think the play is painfully close to my heart, not in a literal sense – It’s not like these things have happened in my family – but the emotional stirrings of the play are almost uncanny.”

What does The Glass Menagerie mean to you as a theatre artist?

“It means something about the ubiquitous nature of family dysfunction, and that there is no such thing as a normal family. Every family has its pathology and its pain, and every family is unique in the way it handles that.  But we’re all broken, and The Glass Menagerie may be an extreme example of that, but none of us are truly whole.”

Although you are still in the early phases of the rehearsal process, do you have a favorite moment in the show?

“No, that’s like asking me my favorite vacation destination! There are so many moments that are wonderful, and that is because of our fabulous director Lexi, who is just a natural. She has created so many beautiful moments by using a system of breaking the play down into separate units.  This is a process Stanislavski wrote about and I think without it, there are so many moments that you risk losing.  No, there are simply too many delicious moments to have a favorite!”

How has your experience with the Theatre Company of Saugus been thus far?

“Amazing! The first show I did with TCS was The Cherry Orchard, in which I played Madame Ranevsky.  I loved working with them. They are one of the nicest, most down-to-earth theatre groups I have ever worked with.  After The Cherry Orchard, I was waiting for them to produce more serious drama, which is my passion.  I was thrilled that they were doing The Glass Menagerie.

As a performer, what has been one of your favorite roles to perform?

“Hamlet, Hamlet, Hamlet is my favorite role of all time. I developed the role of a female Hamlet over the course of a number of years, and performed it with three different Boston-area theater companies.”

How have your previous roles and theatrical experiences prepared you to play such a complex role?

“I think the three roles that have the most significant contributions are probably Hamlet, Madame Ranevsky, and Inez from No Exit because of the emotional range all three required. These roles, like the role of Amanda Wingfield, require digging deep down and accessing the darker parts of myself that are difficult to face. Importantly, playing with all of these roles has helped me to work through some unresolved issues from my family of origin.  And training in Method acting – couldn’t do the work without it!”

What are you most looking forward to in delivering this wonderful piece of theatre on opening night? As a performer, what would you like the audience’s reaction to be?

“For me, shows get better as they progress in rehearsals and performances, and there’s something that’s tragic about that because by the time a show closes, we are usually just hitting our stride. I love resurrecting shows that mean something to me; it’s ultimately not about opening night or any particular performance.  It’s about an organic, developing process that gets better with time.  As with all serious drama, I want the audience to think about human nature, and how pieces of these characters are within all of us as human beings, even the deeply flawed aspects.”

There is so much going on within Amanda regarding her son and daughter. How do you plan on showing those layers to the audience?

“Well, the script does so much of that because it is brilliant, and then it’s about how you as an actress make the dilemmas and emotions inherent in the script real for yourself. So, for me, that goes back to Method acting, and using the pain, joy, etc. from my own life, and channeling it into this beautiful script. How do you do it? You can’t help but do it. It’s all about sincerity and making it real.”

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