Friday, March 22, 2013

Our Town Too

"to find a value above all price
for the smallest events in our daily life"

Thornton Wilder
writing of Our Town (see more below)*

This post is for all my friends from Francis Howell High School who can never forget the impact that this play had on us in our formative years.

~Click to enlarge for reading essay by Donna Muzzey Postel~

Yesterday (on her birthday!) Cyndee wrote: "Funny how the things we did so long ago have stuck with us. I can still picture where we were sitting on the bleachers pouring over the program while we waited for Our Town to start. I think it was the first production they ever did in that gym because they could do it without a stage."

Yvonne wrote:
" 'Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?' It's a wonderful line that's stayed with me over the years. Yes, it works in so many ways. I always thought Emily had the most poignant lines. I remember really crying while performing as Emily. I wish I had a tape of those performances to show my kids. So many good characters in the FHHS production. Ed Stockwell was such an inspiration.

Bruce wrote:
"Those years we were at FHHS...with Ed Stockwell and Chuck Bright and Al McCune and Fran Darrah -- we just kind of captured lightning in a bottle, as far as the fine arts were concerned. So many talented kids and such great teachers, who understood how to get it out of us. It's funny you mentioned crying, because I almost said something last night and didn't: The graveyard scene near the end, when George goes to Emily's grave? I cried. I even surprised myself. I remember I had to walk from the back, up the aisle between the audience, and about halfway down the first night I realized I was actually crying. No one was more surprised than me. Do you remember the night in the graveyard scene, when the spirits of the dead are talking? Terry Veazey was speaking, and someone missed their cue (don't even remember who it was). Terry just picked it up and went into a monologue -- seemed like forever, probably only 30 seconds or a minute, tops -- and then closed with, 'Sorry. I didn't mean to dominate the conversation,' by which time whoever was supposed to have the next line had figured it out. It was a great ad lib, and it was one of those things where the only ones who knew it was wrong were the folks who knew the script."

Yvonne added: "We did some great work together. Sounds cliched, but the outsized stage setting should have diminished the intensity; instead, all the roughness fell away, the audience in their chairs were like witnesses, another choir, some distant relatives of the cast in the Grover's Corner cemetery."

* “Our Town is not offered as a picture of life in a New Hampshire village; or as a speculation about the conditions of life after death (that element I merely took from Dante’s Purgatory). It is an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life. I have made the claim as preposterous as possible, for I have set the village against the largest dimensions of time and place. The recurrent words in this play (few have noticed it) are “hundreds,” “thousands,” and “millions.” Emily’s joys and grief’s, her algebra lessons and her birthday presents—what are they when we consider all the billions of girls who have lived, who are living, and who can live? Each individual’s assertion to an absolute reality can only be inner, very inner. And here the method of staging finds its justification—in the first two acts there are at least a few chairs and tables; but when Emily revisits the earth and the kitchen to which she descended on her twelfth birthday, the very chairs and table are gone. Our claim, our hope, our despair are in the mind—not in things, not in “scenery.” Molière said that for the theatre all he needed was a platform and a passion or two. The climax of this play needs only five square feet of boarding and the passion to know what life means to us.”
Thornton Wilder
In his 1957 preface to Three Plays

My previous posts on Our Town:

My brother Bruce was also kind enough to point out that our favorite line from Our Town serves as the permanent header on my Quotidian blog page (see above). It's true! When Emily asks, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -- every, every minute?" I want the answer to be "Yes, Kitti Carriker does!"
Click to read:

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Our Town

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