Welcome to CTE’s production of Our Town. This play was written by Thorton Wilder in 1937, and earned him the title of “radical playwright” when it premiered in 1938. It challenged normal play format and content in a way that had not been seen before in the theatrical mainstream and turned the theatre world on its ear. Wilder wanted no scenery, that time in the play wouldn’t stay constant, that actors mime their stage business, scenes begin and end by the will of a “stage manager” who both narrates and participates in the action and characters are both living and dead (all this in a time when melodramas and light comedies were the staple fare on Broadway). Playwright Donald Margulies wrote in 2003, “Wilder exploded the accepted notions of character and story…he did for the stage what Picasso and Braque’s experiments in cubism did for painting and Joyce’s stream of consciousness did for the novel.”
Mostly the takeaway from Our Town, now that innovation of the format is not so shocking to the modern aesthetic, is the simple and plain beauty of it. The sparseness of action and yearning for connection that the characters display at times is heartbreaking, especially when viewed through the lens of our own time. All those moments we have snapped and stored in our phones, how many of them did we live with complete authenticity and open hearts to those around us? Life moves so fast, we never know who will be there tomorrow, and savoring the everyday moments of life and our human nature is out of sync with the frenetic pace that we, and our children, are subjected to.
I grew up in Mill Valley, went to Old Mill School, Mill Valley Middle, and Tam High. I graduated from CTE when it was called ETC (Ensemble Theater Company) and was a student of Dan Caldwell, in whose theater my students are performing in tonight. These students and I have worked hard to shed habits of looking towards the future in order to truly and honestly be here with you tonight and share a story. Thanks for listening and being part of the collective history of our town.