The Stage Manager is a man of many roles. Usually a stage
manager is part of the non-acting staff and in complete charge of
the bodily aspects of the production. In Thornton Wilder's Our
Town, the Stage Manager goes well beyond his usual function in a
play and undertakes a large role as a performer. In Our Town the
Stage Manager is a narrator, moderator, philosopher, and an actor.
Through these roles the Stage Manager is able to communicate the
theme of universality in the play.
The main role of the Stage Manager is that of narrator and
moderator. He keeps the play moving by capsule summations and
subtle hints about the future. "I've married over two-hundred
couples in my day. Do I believe in it? I don't know? M
.millions of them. The cottage, the go-cart, the
Sunday-afternoon drives in the Ford, the first rheumatism, the
grandchildren, the second rheumatism, the deathbed, the reading
of the will-once in a thousand times it's interesting"(699). Here the
Stage Manager is giving insight about George and Emily's future.
He is hinting about their life and fate to come. "Goin' to be a great
engineer, Joe was. But the war broke out and he died in France. All
that education for nothing" (673). The incidents discussed about
are great events in George, Emily, and Joe's lives. The Stage
Manage emphasizes that the short things in these people's lives
are overlooked. There isn't realization that it is the small parts of
their lives that make a difference.
His role as narrator differs from most narration. The Stage
Manager's narration shows casualness. The casualness connects
the Stage Manager to the audience. "Presently the STAGE
MANAGER, hat on and pipe in mouth
he has finished setting
the stage and leaning against the right proscenium pillar
watches the late arrivals in the audience."(671) The informality is
evident since he smokes a pipe, wears a hat, and leans formally
against the proscenium pillar. He also greets and dismisses the
audience at the beginning and end of each act. The stage manager
interrupts daily conversation on the street. The Stage Manager
enters and leaves the dialog at will. He is also giving the foresight
of death in the play. His informality in dress, manners, and speech,
connects the theme, universality, of the production to the
audience. His actions make the audience feel that he is a part of the
audience. It is as though he is "one of the guys" or one with the
Philosophy was also another of the Stage Managers avocations.
His philosophies are about daily life, love and marriage and death.
"Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -every,
every minute?(708) Every, every detail in one's life has an impact.
It effects life from that moment forward. Each detail impacts the
whole universe. "Only this one is straining away, straining away all
the time to make something of itself. The strain's so bad that every
sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest"(709). This
philosophy on daily life is that every single detail matters and the
living overlook the small things. People strain over the big things
in life and do not take the time to enjoy the ordinary "small" events
in life. "Almost everybody in the world gets married-you know
what I mean? In our town there aren't hardly any exceptions. Most
everybody in the world climbs into their graves married
were made to live two by two" (696). His philosophy on love and
marriage is traditional. He represents the feelings of a large
population that do not want to live the single life. This philosophy
on love and marriage is universal, pertaining to many people. The
Stage Manager takes this universal theory and relates it to one
couple, in one place, in one period of time. "Now there is some
things we all know, but we don't take'm out and look...
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