From the acclaimed author of
An Inspector Calls
an excerpt from
“...a master craftsman at spinning a yarn.” - Rose Feld, The New York Times and
unearthing,” wrote Paul Taylor in The Independent, “This one resoundingly is.”
of a very special kind, with dark sinister scenes, magical touches of humour” -The Stage
.B. Priestley keeps being rediscovered,” writes the London Times, because “he’s never really gone away.” In the mid-1990s, New York audiences thrilled to Priestley’s prescient modernity in An Inspector Calls on Broadway and Dangerous Corner (adapted by David Mamet) for the Atlantic Theater. Now Mint Theater Company presents the American premiere of his 1957 masterwork, The Glass Cage.
the glass cage
Priestley’s drama of “fears, prejudices, hypocrisies and lies” (BBC) 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—the first in fifty years— where it was hailed as a “not-to-be-missed revival.” (The Oxford Times) “This is what real theatre is all about,” declared The Stage. “Not all theatrical rarities are worth
puritanical household with their boozing and sexual seduction, we are kept in the dark as to their ultimate purpose. Finally, Priestley makes it clear that they are hellbent on revenge for the way their late dad was cheated of his rightful inheritance.” (The Guardian)
The Glass Cage is a taut drama about the danger of family wounds left unattended. “The McBanes are a pious, Bible-thumping lot, dominated by the bullying David and
Priestley dispenses with his usual English setting in favor of Toronto, 1906. “You don’t expect to find a Priestley play located in Toronto,” observes The Independent, “but while it may be a far cry from England geographically, in terms of theme The Glass Cage has certain strong affinities with An Inspector Calls. But instead of a police inspector...that springs family skeletons from cupboards, the catalytic characters are connected by more than ties of blood to the well-heeled Edwardian hypocrites they are determined to rumble.”
“Exhibits a fierce moral sense,
reminiscent of An Inspector Calls.”
- Michael Billington,
The Guardian his bachelor brother, Malcolm. Into their midst comes a strange trio of siblings, the fruits of a marriage between a third, wild McBane brother and a Native American woman. As the three disrupt the
Priestley slowly ratchets up the tension in his suspenseful tale before surprising
us with his true purpose. “Just as it seems that this play is going firmly in one direction,” the Oxford Times writes, “the old stage magician Priestley swiftly conjures it somewhere quite different.” “It’s hard to believe one would think of Pinter when watching J.B. Priestley,” observes The
riestley was born in the North England industrial town of Bradford. In his teens, he quit school to become a clerk in the wool trade. Already an ardent Socialist, he wrote articles for a political journal, The Bradford Pioneer, in his spare time. After the war, Priestley established himself as an essayist and novelist. With the help of American playwright, Edward Knoblock, he adapted his bestselling novel, The Good Companions, for the stage in 1931. Priestley, at age 37, suddenly found himself beginning a new career as a playwright. In 1932, he enthralled the West End with Dangerous
Corner, an ingenious thriller that presents multiple outcomes of the same event. For the remainder of the decade, and throughout the 1940’s, Priestley would rule London theatre. By the 1950’s, however, Priestley was falling out of favor. His socialist politics ruffled the Establishment on both sides of the Atlantic. His apparently “realistic” plays, often set in the Edwardian past, seemed old-fashioned compared to the vituperative “Angry Young Man” movement then setting London theatre ablaze. However, beneath the deceptively calm, ordered surface of 1918
His first book, a collection of 1927 poems entitled Chapman of He publishes his first Rhymes, is published. World War I begins; novel, Benighted. Priestley enlists.
1900 September 13th
Priestley is born in Bradford, England.
Priestley is wounded while serving in the 10th battalion.
“I am too conventional for the avant-garde, too experimental for Aunt Edna; a lowbrow to highbrows, a highbrow to lowbrows.’’
Priestley’s drama lurks a subversive tumult of time and emotion. 1937
DOUGLAS: We know that.
“This is what real theatre is all about”
Telegraph, “but The Glass Cage—unseen for 50 years—carries much of the calculated menace that the former was beginning to unleash on the London stage.”
The iconoclastic Priestley was intrigued by the vagaries of time. He studied the theories of mystic P.D. Ouspensky and mathematician J.W. Dunne, who argued that past, present, and future exist on the same temporal plane. Priestley’s own experiments with time are evident in such works as Time and the Conways (1937). Priestley’s work remained a staple of repertory theatre, but it wasn’t until the breathtaking mid-1990’s revival of An Inspector Calls, directed by Stephen Daldry, that audiences began to realize how prescient he was. — Heather J. Violanti
His extended essay titled Man and Time is published as a companion to Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols.
The Glass Cage has a successful run at the Crest Theater, Toronto.
Priestley is award the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II.
saturday, september 13th
date and time to be announced.
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”
Tom Priestley is the guardian of his father’s estate and responsible for The Glass Cage resurfacing in London in the last decade. He will talk about Priestley’s life and work.
Following the matinee performance
“He’s like Daddy—still casting well-fed glances back to the Edwardian twilight from his comfortable, disenfranchised wilderness....”
DR. GRATTON: Are you asking me something or telling me something?
Patricia Denison, editor of “John Osborne: A Casebook” will discuss 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.
ANGUS: I’m asking you. What’s the answer. DR. GRATTON: You won’t like it. ANGUS: Go on. DR. GRATTON: You’re a grown man, not a child. If you can’t get over once wanting a pair of skates and not having them, you’d better start blaming yourself, not other people. ANGUS: That’s too simple—
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”
happy birthday john boynton
saturday september 13th following the evening performance
Join the cast in the lobby for a piece of cake and a glass of bubbly as we drink a toast to our author on his birthday!
edward mendelson COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
The Mint Theater Company produces the American premiere of The Glass Cage.
Revival of An Inspector Calls directed by Stephen Daldry wins 1993 Olivier Award for Best Revival, and 1994 Tony & Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play.
Son of the author
Check our website for updates.
From the original cast of The Glass Cage
saturday & sunday, september 20th & 21st
Following the matinee performances
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 Mint Theater is proud and pleased to welcome Barbara Chilcott to New York for the American Premiere of The Glass Cage. She will speak about meeting
saturday, september 27th
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.
saturday, october 4th
Following the matinee performance
ANGUS: Is it, doctor? How do you know? Suppose now and then I get fighting mad just because once— let’s say—I wanted a pair of skates and couldn’t have them—and I couldn’t have them because some people didn’t like my father? Is that old history, over and done with?
Three plays by J.B. Priestley premiere in London: Time & The Conways, I Have Been Here Before and People at Sea.
Priestley begins his career as a dramatist with Dangerous Corner on the West End.
DR. GRATTON: You didn’t, eh? I liked Charlie McBane. A lot of people didn’t—
DR. GRATTON: So I imagine. But it’s all old history—over and done with—
About the playwright
DOUGLAS: We didn’t come to this house to hear about our father.
Edward Mendelson, professor of English and Comparative Literature and the Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University will discuss the Edwardian Era.
Author of “Glass Cage: The Crest Theatre Story”
Following the matinee performance
The Crest Theater was the beginning of home-grown 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.
All events take place immediately after the performance and usually last about fifty minutes. Free and open to the public. Please join us for one or for all, even if you are seeing the show at another time. Check our website for updated schedule information and additional events. Speakers and dates subject to change without notice.
“What an entrance
these three could make!” -J.B. Priestley
Barbara Chilcott with her brothers Donald and Murray Davis from a press photo for The Glass Cage, 1957.
Priestley, performing the play in Toronto and London and her extraordinary sixdecade career.
contribute to the enrichmint fund!
Thanks to a generous lead gift from the Michael Tuch Foundation, we have expanded our EnrichMINT programming. Please help us to maintain this critical fund which enables us to bring you an array of international scholars and experts to enhance your theatergoing experience. For more information call 212-315-0231.