Kyle Cassidy Photo Essay: THE GLASS MENAGERIE (Commonwealth Classic Theatre)

Photographer Kyle Cassidy is a treasure in Philadelphia theater, creating visually arresting stills and photo series of numerous independent plays. Phindie is proud to present this photo essay on Commonwealth Classic Theatre Company’s production of Tennessee Williams’s THE GLASS MENAGERIE, now onstage at the Off Broad Street Theatre. (Republished from Kyle’s blog


I love photographing actors because it’s their job to make fantasy reality. When you’re telling some CEO “okay, now look smart” most of the time they’re thinking about their lunch or their next meeting or some article they’re writing but the one thing they’re not really thinking about is how to make your photo amazing. Actors are thinking how to make your photo amazing. You can give them individual words, you can give them fake scenarios, you can give them moods and they go with it. When director Joshua Browns asked if I wanted to work with some of Philadelphia’s best actors to do some photos for the Commonwealth Classic Theater’s production of Tennessee Williams’s THE GLASS MENAGERIE I was very happy.

Photo by Kyle Cassidy

We did some shots outside  that I thought might be the sort of family snapshots people might have. There’s not a whole lot visual to THE GLASS MENAGERIE, it’s a play about memory and the interactions of a family, but it’s not a play where a house falls on a witch, so any visuals have to be subtler. The relationship between members of the family is extremely complicated and this is what the whole play is about.

Photo by Kyle Cassidy

There’s Tom, the narrator, he works in a factory to support the family but has much bigger dreams, he’s a writer and not understood by his mother, Amanda, at one time a legendary beauty who repeatedly tells the story of how at one time she had seventeen different suitors show up on her porch at the same time and the family had to send out to the church for extra chairs to accommodate them. Now she’s selling magazine subscriptions and living in a miserable tenement in New York, but all the while, in her mind she’s still a belle, and she’s still 17.

Photo by Kyle Cassidy

Then there’s Laura who has some disability—maybe a limp from Polio—whatever it is, it makes her self conscious. She’s retreated into her room and away from people.

 Photo by Kyle Cassidy.

Into this frail and dysfunctional web come some things that make up the play.

Photo by Kyle Cassidy

I really love how all the actors made their characters come through with nothing to act with but their eyes, their expressions and their posture.

I lit this with the Photek Softlighter II with a pair of Pocket Wizards on a Panasonic GX7 Micro 4:3 camera with a 45mm f2.8 Leica lens. Here’s me Isa St. Claire, Allen Radway, and E. Ashley Izard, behind the scenes.

behind the scenes

THE GLASS MENAGERIE runs August 7-24, 2014 at the Off Broad Street Theatre [1636 Sansom Street];

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About the author

Kyle Cassidy

Kyle Cassidy has been documenting American culture since the 1990's. He has photographed Goths, Punks, Cutters, Politicians, Metalheads, Dominatrices, Scholars, and Alternative Fashion, in addition to less prosaic subjects. In recent years his projects have extended abroad to Romania, where he captured the lives of homeless orphans living in sewers; and to Egypt, where he reported on contemporary archaeological excavations. His publications include several books on information technology, as well as a regular appearance as contributing editor for Videomaker magazine. His Photo-A-Week blog ( was one of the first photo blogs on the internet and now has an average of more than 150,000 visitors a week, he also maintains a relatively exciting twitter feed @kylecassidy. Kyle's work has appeared in the New York Times, Vanity Fair (DE), the Sunday Times of London, Marie Claire, Photographers Forum, Asleep by Dawn, Gothic Beauty and numerous other publications. His documentary photography book Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes was awarded's "Best 100 Books of 2007" "Best 10 Art Books of 2007" medals. Most recently he worked on the big book of Who Killed Amanda Palmer with Amanda Palmer (go figure) and the wonderfully talented Neil Gaiman. Some of his other interesting projects are In The Hive and American Rocker. He's friendly and you really shouldn't be afraid to email him.