Tennessee Williams’ award-winning 1944 play, The Glass Menagerie is back on Broadway this season at The Booth Theatre, with the creative team of scenic/costume designer Bob Crowley and lighting designer Natasha Katz. Natalie Robin chats with the designers.

Live Design: How did you get involved with the new Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie, directed by Once director John Tiffany?
Bob Crowley: It came about because we were all downtown at New York Theatre Workshop working together. I noticed that John Tiffany had a copy of The Glass Menagerie sitting on top of his bag in the auditorium. I got curious and said, “What are you doing with The Glass Menagerie in your bag?” And he said, “I am doing a reading of it. Have you ever designed it?” I hadn’t. I’d never been asked, and it’s one of my favorite plays, if not my favorite play.

John did a reading at NYTW, and I went. I met Cherry Jones beforehand for coffee, and now we are on Broadway. I swear to God I don’t know how this happened, but it did. And we’re all here together again. It’s just brilliant. I have been waiting all my life to design The Glass Menagerie.

LD: This is much of the same creative team as Once. How was this process different?
BC: The process is completely different because The Glass Menagerie comes with a whole lot of baggage attached to it. And it also comes with the whole preface and introduction by Tennessee about how he thinks the play should be staged, whereas Once didn’t have any of that. In both cases, it is about trying to find a visual language to put them onstage in our way, in our own approach to both pieces.

Of course with The Glass Menagerie, do you listen to Tennessee’s instructions? Do you try to include them? Or do you say, “This is a young playwright experimenting with form and with stagecraft a long time ago, and obviously excited about the idea of plastic theatre…” Do you follow his instructions, or do you follow your own instincts? We decided this time to follow our own instincts.

Natasha Katz: John, Bob, and I were all sort of working hand-in-hand on Once. We were all in an extremely symbiotic creative place, all thinking on the same level. When you are working with people, you aren’t only creating with them. You’re also talking to them about other things in their lives. We were in a very similar place, and that actually continued all the way through The Glass Menagerie.