CAMBRIDGE — A couple of years ago, the actress Cherry Jones and the British director John Tiffany were having lunch at Veggie Planet, the leafy green basement eatery in Harvard Square. Jones, who grew up in Paris, Tenn., had recently been cleaning out her late parents’ house, and she was reminiscing about the old letters and mementos she and her sister had unearthed. As she talked about Mother and Daddy — as she calls them to this day — her resonant voice took on the slow drawl of her childhood down South. Her memories seemed tinged with the scent of magnolias, jonquils, dogwoods, evoking a particular time and a particular way of life.
Listening to her, Tiffany was struck with an image: He saw Jones as Amanda Wingfield, the domineering matriarch in Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie.” But when he suggested that he direct her in the legendary role, her answer was clear and immediate: “No, never, not that play.”