You’re invited to visit ‘Our Town’
SOAP LAKE — The Masquers brings Thornton Wilder’s classic “Our Town” to its stage for the first time this weekend, with opening night set for Friday.
“Our Town,” written in 1937 and presented in 1938, is a three-act play set in the quiet town of Grover’s Corners, N.H. “Our Town” won the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for drama, the 1989 Drama Desk Award for outstanding revival and the 1989 Tony Award for best revival.
“I think it’s an incredible script and a timeless story,” director Clifford Bresee said. “In rural communities the theme works well. Wilder stripped away the artifice that is theater to engage the audience in the story.”
Masquers is taking on the more recent 75th anniversary version of the play that was finished in 2012. Bresee, who is a fan of Wilder’s prose, didn’t compromise the script or the set for this production. He chose to stay as close to the original as possible.
The characters in Grover’s Corners closely represent many community members who are near and dear to our hearts. The audience gets a private peek into their everyday lives. In the words of the late Wilder, “So, people a thousand years from now, this is the way we were in the provinces north of New York at the beginning of the 20th Century. This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying.”
This production is a slice-of-life drama. It is sort of a commentary on human existence. The stage manager, played by Evan Sperline, is that commentator. He plays a crucial part in what he calls “breaking the fourth wall,” when he speaks to the audience. The stage manager character is fluid and can move between narrating the play, interacting with the actors and the audience.
“I love that he can engage the audience in conversation but be a part of the play itself,” Sperline said.
Bresee clarified that the play does not sermonize. He describes it as a “big mirror,” with dialogue that encourages pensive introspection.
“Our Town” will be presented these next three weeks. Show times are April 22-23, April 29-30 and May 6-7. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are April 24, May 1 and May 8. All matinees start at 2 p.m.
Tickets prices are $14 for general admission, $10 for seniors or students, and $7 for children 11 and under. Reservations can be made at www.masquers.com or by calling 246-2611.
“Grover’s Corners, N.H., is a fictional town that is intended to be any town,” Bresee said. “This is an American classic. You will leave here more contemplative than when you came.”
— By Tammara Green, QVPR contributor