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The Lasting Impact of “Our Town”

Somewhere within a 100 mile radius of your current location, someone is preparing to perform Our Town at this moment.

That might be a slight overstatement, depending on where you live, but there’s no question that Thornton Wilder’s Our Town is one of the most produced plays in theaters all over the world.

In the foreword to Our Town, Donald Margulies said “The play’s success across cultural borders around the world attests to its being something much greater than an American play: it is a play that captures the universal experience of being alive.”

Our Town won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1938 after a run on Broadway. With all due respect to The Bridge of San Luis Rey, my current read, it’s Wilder’s most famous work.

With two chairs as props and no other stage backdrop, Our Town is simple to produce but difficult to execute. Set in the fictional Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire, it explores the relationship between George Gibbs and Emily Webb, two neighbors who grow up as childhood friends, fall in love, and get married.

I’ve sadly never seen nor read the play, as anti-American as that sounds, though I did watch the video below, which was a feature on CBS This Morning about the lasting impact of Wilder’s play. So can I get some points for that?

I’m sure many of you have watched or read Our Town…so is it worthy of the acclaim?

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. The play has many wonderful moments. However, I did find it hard to sit through as I grew bored.

    Like

    July 19, 2012
    • That’s what my wife said. She said it was boring.

      Like

      July 19, 2012
  2. Nel #

    I’ve actually never read or seen it either. There was even a production on my college campus last semester.

    Like

    July 19, 2012
  3. As with Bridge, I saw the play in high school, and was bored by it. At the time, I doubt my mind was capable of understanding what the play was about, though.

    Like

    July 19, 2012
  4. I’m amazed that so many were bored by this play. I loved it, but I’m hopelessly sentimental and romantic.

    Like

    July 19, 2012
  5. I saw the movie rendition — and while hopelessly old-fashioned, it had a certain charm–and as a play, I would think it would be great–as the movie was like a play

    Like

    July 19, 2012
  6. Patrice #

    It’s an amazing work. See the play. Today.

    Like

    July 19, 2012
  7. Lydia #

    There is truth in the words “it is difficult to execute.” I have both seen and performed in productions of Our Town, and I will be the first to admit that when performed poorly, this play is dull. But when performed properly, with passion, with conviction…Our Town is truly one of the best plays out there and certainly one of my favorite pieces of artwork that I have ever encountered.

    Like

    July 19, 2012
  8. Bill Hampton #

    I played the Stage Manager in our 6th grade production of Our Town. I loved it then and still loved it when I saw the Tennesseee Rep perform it a few years ago. Great play. Must see.

    Like

    July 19, 2012
    • Hey Bill. Any lingering video of that 6th grade production around? Would love to see that. Haha.

      Like

      July 19, 2012
      • Bill Hampton #

        Oh how I wish. I was very impressive if I don’t say so myself.

        Like

        July 21, 2012
  9. My only exposure to this play was playing the role of Professor Willard when I was 15….that was a very long time ago. I think it was a good play, but I’m sure my memory is skewed by all the teenage fun of being in my first high school play!

    Like

    July 20, 2012
  10. There’s a really fantastic movie about Our Town being performed in an inner-city high school in Compton, if you’re interested: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0334029/

    The play may seem odd and dull today, especially when the people performing it don’t have the necessary spark and ambition, but in this movie, these children, through many stumbling blocks, show just how relevant and beautiful it can truly be.

    Like

    July 24, 2012

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