Act 3 our town
The stage has been set with three rows of chairs, representing gravestones. At the end of the intermission, Mrs. Gibbs, Simon Stimson, Mrs. Soames, and Wally Webb, among others, take their seats. All of these characters have died in the intervening years between Act II and Act III, and the stage has become the local cemetery, situated at the top of a hill overlooking Grover’s Corners. The Stage Manager appears and announces that another nine years have passed—it is now the summer of 1913. The Stage Manager talks about the dead, telling us that the dead lose interest in the living and in earthly matters. He says that “everybody in their bones knows that something is eternal,”and that the dead spend their time waiting for this eternal part of their selves to emerge. A few living people have been hovering at the back of the stage and now come to the foreground. The Stage Manager introduces Joe Stoddard, the town’s undertaker, who is watching over a freshly dug grave, and Sam Craig, a cousin of Emily Gibbs. We learn that Sam left Grover’s Corners twelve years ago to go west and has returned to town for Emily’s funeral. Sam reads the headstones, represented by the characters sitting in chairs. He sees his Aunt Julia, known to us as Mrs. Gibbs, and Mr. Stimson, who, we learn from Joe, hanged himself in his attic. Sam asks Joe how Emily died, and Joe replies that she passed away in childbirth. A funeral party enters with a casket. Among the mourners are George, Dr. Gibbs, and the Webbs. While the living characters huddle at the back of the stage, Mrs. Soames and Mrs. Gibbs talk dispassionately about the cause of Emily’s death. Mrs. Soames reminisces about George and Emily’s wedding. A group standing by the grave begins singing “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds.” Emily emerges from the funeral party and joins the characters in the cemetery—her body has just been interred. She sits in an empty chair beside Mrs. Gibbs and tells her mother-in-law all about...
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