Our Town Was First Produced And Published In To Wide Acclaim This Pulitzer Prize Winning Drama Of Life In The Small Village Of Grover S Corners, An Allegorical Representation Of All Life, Has Become A Classic It Is Thornton Wilder S Most Renowned And Most Frequently Performed Play Goodbye, Grover s CornersI saw a really terrible movie this weekend called Stardust I thought that it would be terrific since the cast is star studded and mostly because it was based on a novel by the very clever Neil Gaiman who I am a big fan of, Sandman, American Gods, Good Omens the Brakiri Day of the Dead episode of Babylon 5 for fans in the know But alas, the movie sucked although Deniro was funny Yarg.But the movie also stars Claire Daines who I used to be a big fan of in the series My So Called Life And then I got to remembering that the finale of that show was one of the best ever simply because it was not really meant to be the finale But, that s how life is The series ended with a telling of Thornton Wilder s play, Our Town That the series ended like this just stunned me It went like this if you care to know.Katimski Oh, you can remember it like this If you keep going downstage, you re going to fall down Okay Oh, oh, oh,andcould you stop acting Please Rayanne What Katimski Stop acting There s really no need for it You see, Emily is dead The life she had is over That s a prettybig deal I meanoh, gee whiz, she is just nowrealizing how precious every moment of that life reallywas And that she never really appreciated what she had.Just imaginewhat that must feel like, Rayanne pause Rayanne sadly I can t go on, it goes so fast, we don t have time to look at one another I didn t realize So allthat was going on, andwe never noticed Take me back.Back to the hill, to my grave But first, wait One lastlook Goodbye Goodbye, world Goodbye, Grover s Corners.Momma and Poppa Goodbye to clocks ticking Do any humanbeings ever realize life while they live it Every every minute Abyssinia No Saints and poets, maybe they do so.Rayanne I m ready to go back.Angela crying, chin trembling Were you happy Rayanne sadly No I should have listened to you But that s all human beings are Just blind people Rayanne turns and walks away Angela turns the other way and exits I remember seeing this play in high school and not thinking very much of it I guess I was just too young to understand But seeing this one axis shifting scene, the climax of the play delivered in it s most seemingly natural context, that of a high school drama production, really made me change my mind For some reason, after seeing Claire Daines in that movie, I was thinking over and over about that Our Town scene and lamenting that someone writing for television didn t have the wit or the where with all to try something so simple and wonderful like that again But, was it the storyline of the series that made that one scene feel even impacting, or did the scene from Wilder s play bring classic relevance to a silly teen drama Ah ha.I went to the bookstore that night and I bought a copy of the play In the introduction that very feeling is addressed, how many young people are introduced to this play when they are deficient in experience and short on attention People tend to lump it into a Kapra or Rockwell kind of kitsch At least, I fell into that trap.But now, reading it again closer to 40 makes me understand what a wonderful work of art that play really is The introduction calls it a great American play, perhaps THE great American play And then the writer of the introduction goes on to explain how he experienced the play back in 1988 or 89 with Spalding Gray as the omniscient Stage Manager Wow.Wow Just wow After you ve been blessed with a little perspective read also age and experience , every single meaning in the play that went right over your head at 17 hits you right between the eyes AND STICKSlike the banana in Swimming to Cambodia So, while I read the play I imagined Gray in that role and let Thornton Wilder take me to Grover s Corners for the mundane drama that is everyday life, for the metaphors that still resound today.And I loved it.I loved every character.Even the school teacher didn t see that one coming, did you Dan.I loved everything they did and everything they said.That a character can come in, be given all the aspirations and talents in the world then be destroyed by a few words from the Stage Manager dumbfounds me How terrible, how casual, how like real life.Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it No The saints and poets, maybe They do some.At the end of the Brakiri Day of the Dead episode written by Neil Gaiman, Mr Morden says, One does not go to the dead for wisdom It seems that Thornton Wilder would disagree. Read for class I enjoyed this WAY than I thought I would I expected it to just be boring Americana which is totally not my thing but the last act just totally blew me away It was profound and thoughtful and terrifyingly accurate, but very well done. So all that was going on and we never noticedOh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it every,every minuteTo answer poor dead Emily s question I know I don t Especially not today Not on this Fourth of July.Most Independence Days I think about hot dogs, potato salad, Souza, and fireworks And maybe for a brief moment about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.This year, though, I am thinking about everything we have lost Little towns like Our Town, eaten up by urban sprawl or abandoned to the ghosts of the plains Our sense of a common purpose Our civility Our truthfulness Our faith in our justice system to bring about justice Our belief that science and government can make things better Our openness to the strangers among us especially the children of strangers Our friendships with people who are different or who believe different things from ourselves And even our ability to agree about what flags should be honored and how our national holidays should be celebrated.The only hope I have is that, by being honest with ourselves, by spending a few moments this Fourth of July reflecting on all America has lost, we may perhaps realize now, this minute how wonderful our life on earth in our America, in our town really is. Does anybody realize what life is while they re living it every, every minuteThornton Wilder, Our TownIt s been years perhaps a decade or since I last read OUR TOWN I d 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 Wilder s hymn to ordinary lives, and so it is 81 years later this powerful piece of theatre has lost none of it s 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 , 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 Emily s younger brother have all died The Stage Manager explains how the dead don t 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 don t 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, George s collapsing in front of Emily s headstone, mourning his loss, their loss And in the end OUR TOWN serves up much 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.
Thornton Niven Wilder was an American playwright and novelist He received three Pulitzer Prizes, one for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and two for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and a National Book Award for his novel The Eighth Day.For see
- 181 pages
- Our Town: A Play in Three Acts
- Thornton Wilder
- 14 March 2019 Thornton Wilder