Taking a Closer Look at Our Town
Usually when a company, school, or theater puts on a play they try to make it as realistic as possible for the audience using props, costumes, different set designs, and lighting. Our Town does not follow along the guidelines of the ordinary. According to a website about Our Town, 'It was written by Thorton Wilder in the 20th century in such a way that the audience is forced to focus on the characters and themes.' The actors pantomime most of the props, such as utensils and food and walk up a ladder when "looking out" an upper-story window. There is also a narrator in the play or "stage-manager" who often interrupts the acting to explain someone's background or to simply comment on a character's action. Surprsingly this unorthodox play is one of the most frequently presented on the American stage. It's popularity derives from the fact that the play has universal themes that relate to any audience and the town is similar to towns across America. From the other viewpoint, that of the people producing the play, it is cheap and easy due to the lack of scenery and props.
The town it takes place in , Grover's Corners, is set in New Hampshire. The year is 1901. It has countless themes, but the most apparent and important are appreciating life while living it, carpe diem, that little things in life are actually big things, no town can or should isolate itself from the rest of the world, and that no community is perfect. You can see why audiences are able to get into the play so easily and put themselves in the characters' shoes. Our town reflects the very community you live in whether you reside in the Upper East Side of New York City or Pocatello, Idaho. It unites all humans under these five themes.
Our Town is a three-part play that follows the families and individuals who live there, life and death, and love and marriage. One of my favorite lines is "Life is meant to be lived two by two." "You've got to love life to have life. You've got to have life to love life." One review I read online called, Our Town: Everybody's Town, is written by a woman who just had to see the play with her husband after several people were raving about it including the pastor at her Church. During the beginning she began to regret buying the tickets and her husband actually dozed off a few times, but towards the middle they began to see what all the hype was about when it started to talk about love and marriage. At the climatic scene, when one character, Emily, comes back to life and witnesses her twelfth birthday party, the author of the review came to an epiphany about why the play was considered a classic and about her own life as well. She writes, 'So, I suddenly realized (and in tears) why the play was a classic. With a very simple story and a very slow start, it was able to make an important point. As we go through life, sometimes, or even often, we fail to appreciate things around us. We miss or dismiss the importance of seemingly small things taking place. We think things are boring or slow or that life sucks when each day is just meant to be lived to the max.'