Our Town by Thornton Wilder“Does anybody realize what life is while theyre living it -- every, every minute?”
? Thornton Wilder, Our Town
Its been years perhaps a decade or more since I last read OUR TOWN. Id forgotten how beautiful it is. It is easy to see why this is one of the heavy hitters of the American Theatre. Our Town has been called Wilders hymn to ordinary lives, and so it is. 81 years later this powerful piece of theatre has lost none of its charm.
In OUR TOWN, Wilder expertly explores the beauty and sorrow of human life. Wilder blends meditations on the ever evolving course of human existence with a heartfelt picture of life in small-town America.
The first act unfolds, depicting 24 hours in the life of this average American town as we slowly see the characters reveal their souls to us. Wilder expertly blends comic vignettes that artfully show us the love, compassion and understanding that these characters are built upon.
In Act II, Wilder explores “Love and Marriage.” Once more, the audience is transported back to events in George and Emily’s life; this time their wedding day. We hear various characters’ opinions about marriage, which compels them to make their own judgment and promotes the idea that while marriage may be another part of daily life, “each marriage is different from all the others, and no definition could satisfy everybody.
The third act takes place nine years later in the summer of 1913. The Stage Manager explains how things have slowly changed in that time, such as fewer horses on Main Street and people locking their doors at night. He walks into the cemetery and points out the gravestone of Mrs. Gibbs, Mrs. Soames, and Mr. Stimson. Emilys younger brother have all died. The Stage Manager explains how the dead dont stay interested in the living for very long. They become weaned away from life on earth. Soon we find out that Emily is about to join the dead. After revisiting her life Emily sadly realizes life goes so quickly, and people dont realize it. She wonders if humans ever realize the meaning of life while they actually live it. It is here we witness the most tragic event in Our Town, Georges collapsing in front of Emily’s headstone, mourning his loss, their loss.
And in the end? OUR TOWN serves up much more than a pleasant, greeting-card picture of old New England. Wilder’s soul-stirring play is one that illuminates both the nobility and the pain in the fleetingness of human life.
OUR TOWN ACT ONE
Synopsis: Our Town
Act I, which Wilder calls "Daily Life," is a re-creation of the normal daily activities found in a small New Hampshire town. The act opens with the appearance of the Stage Manager, who speaks directly to the audience. He tells where all of the main buildings of the town are located and gives pertinent facts about Grover's Corners. Then he introduces us to the Webbs and the Gibbses, who are two of the town's main families. After the introduction by the Stage Manager, the milkman and paper boy arrive and signal the official opening of the action of the play. Then the representative families begin to assemble for breakfast.
For 80 years, Thornton Wilder's Our Town has awed audiences. The American playwright's delicate tale of small town American families at the turn of the 20th century is alive with humanity and poetry. Yet, there was a time when its content felt downright revolutionary. Today, Wilder is considered a titan of 20th-century American literature—and he's the only person to have won the Pulitzer Prize for both literature and drama. Ten years later, Our Town won Wilder his second Pulitzer, and first in the drama category. Wilder also wrote screenplays for silent films.
Our Town is introduced and narrated by the Stage Manager, who welcomes the audience to the fictional town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, early on a.
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