Third time’s a charm as ‘The Glass Menagerie’ sells out in Tokyo

©Jan Versweyveid
“The Glass Menagerie” starring Isabelle Huppert.

After being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, a new production of “The Glass Menagerie” performed by France’s national Odeon-Theatre de l’Europe had its Japanese premiere at the New National Theatre in Tokyo.

Popular director Ivo van Hove and famed actress Isabelle Huppert collaborated for this much-talked-about staging. It was finally performed in Tokyo from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2. at the invitation of the city’s theater.

The play, by Tennessee Williams, is one of the American playwright’s most famous works. With innovative casting — an actor with African roots performs a role originally intended for a White actor — and a modern rereading of the characters, the opening day performance was so well received that the remaining tickets sold out the next day.

Mamoru Ota, chief producer in charge of drama, said: “How is this piece perceived in the world now? The audience was able to experience the joy of seeing new ways of staging the play, the joy of seeing the piece for the first time.”

Due to the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, together with the pandemic, production costs doubled from an initial estimate. The bonds between the two national theaters, formed from their mutual struggle to overcome crises, are said to have been a major factor contributing to the visit. “By being able to introduce a work by a trusted company, we gained good experience for the future,” Ota said.