GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Playwright Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" has been produced more often than any other play in the past 10 years, according to Maurice LaMee, assistant professor of acting and directing at Colorado Mesa University. If you haven't yet seen this important piece of American culture, there's an opportunity next week to do so."I think the reason (it's so popular) it's a classic story of a family under duress. It's sad, lovely, haunting, and it works," said LaMee, who is directing the play."The play is quite autobiographical, taken from Tennessee Williams' growing up in St. Louis," LaMee said. Written nearly 60 years ago, "The Glass Menagerie" is a memory play that recounts the events that lead to the downfall of the Wingfield family. Set during the Great Depression, the story is about a mother, played by Emily Lackner, who, after being abandoned by her husband, clings to memories of an idyllic youth growing up in the South. Her shy daughter, Laura, performed by Shannon Foley, retreats to a world of her own, occupying herself with her collection of glass animals. Laura's brother's Tom, played by Colton Pratt, secretly dreams of escape. "Tennessee Williams was the boy who wanted to escape," LaMee said.A fourth character, a gentleman caller for Laura, is played by Ben Carlson.LaMee said he's been fond of Williams' work since auditioning for one of his plays in high school years ago. "I really love ('Glass Menagerie')," LaMee said. "There are certain plays you work on, you mine them, and get all you can out of them. With Tennessee Williams, that's never the case. There's always something else around the corner to discover."The character, Tom, also narrates the story. In an unusual construct, Tom is speaking in 1944, about events that occurred in 1937."The Glass Menagerie" was Williams' first "breakthrough" play, LaMee said. While supposedly writing screenplays for a big Hollywood studio, Williams kept dabbling with this play. His agent produced what became a huge hit in 1944.Another reason to see the play is to view the scene set in the family's apartment, LaMee said. "There's a bit of poetry in the set," he said.LaMee joined the faculty at CMU last fall after 12 years as artistic director of the Creede Repertory Theatre in southwest Colorado.