"Our Town", by Thornton Wilder, written in 1938, was first performed at the McCarter theatre, New Jersey, on the 22nd of January1938. It is an example of meta theatre, and chronicles the lives of ordinary, everyday people, during their ordinary, everyday lives. The story is based in Grover’s Corners, a small town in New Hampshire, set at the turn of the century.
The play involves three main acts, each focused
upon a different aspect of life.
Set in 1901, the first act simply discusses the passing of an uneventful day in the town. We are exposed to all the characters, particularly two teenage characters, Emily Webb, and George Gibbs.
The second act focuses upon ‘love and marriage’, and takes place in 1904, the day of Emily and George’s wedding. We are exposed to all the tremulous events of marriage, yet the scene ends happily.
The final act, set in 1913 involves the funeral of Emily Webb. After her death Emily chooses to return to her past, selecting her 12th birthday. Emily is soon returns to the cemetery, finding the whole experience saddening, as she realises the waste her life has been, taking everything for granted, not cherishing the smallest of treasures. Emily accepts death.
Throughout this seemingly simple plot Wilder illustrates the relationship of the individual to the vastness of the universe, in fact, it is the simplicity of the plot that allows this topic to be addressed.
I have been offered the position of a director of this play, and will further discuss my methods, adhering carefully to those suggested by Wilder.
Thornton Wilder once referred to "Our Town" as "an effort to find the dignity in the trivial of our daily life, against those preposterous stretches which seem to rob it of any such dignity" This is an important aspect of the play, especially in today’s society. Our whole idea of life is entertainment which is short, exciting, and requires no thinking....
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