Friday, November 21, 2008

Play of the Week: Our Town

"Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it - every, every minute?"

"No - Saints and poets maybe - they do some."

Our Town is one of the true gems of the American theatre. Sadly, it may have lost some of its luster because of over-exposure in high schools and is viewed as sophomoric. But for a play to have remained that popular for that long really speaks to how good it is and how much the message resonates today. In Chicago there have been two major productions: one by the Hypocrites directed by and starring David Cromer. and an upcoming production at Lookingglass Theatre featuring David Schwimmer.

The play takes a nostalgic look at small town life, growing up, love, and death. We are lead through the play by Thornton Wilder's narrator who helps guide us from place to place and even steps into the action as town folks from time to time. The children George and Emily speak to each other from the upstairs windows of their houses staged with the actors on ladders. This is truly a minimalistic setting where the description, story and words create the world. Sometimes when the narrator describes the surrounding mountains the audience will look to the back of the auditorium where he is pointing as if they expect to see the peaks.

Our Town hearkens back to the days where things were a little simpler. Where everyone would gather to hear a story around the fire in the days before television and radio. As we continue to get more and more inundated with electronic media, we will look to Our Town more and more as a way to create our national and our own aural history.

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