Last evening I attended an excellent performance of “Our Town”, Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, at Lowell High School’s Little Theater. Under the direction of Sharon Bisantz, the Student Theater Company did a masterful job of presenting this classic that is set in a fictional New Hampshire town near Mount Monadnock. The “Director’s Note” in the play’s program explains why “Our Town” remains so popular.
What makes “Our Town” remarkable is how UNremarkable it is. There is limited (or no) set, lighting, costume or props. There are no complex characters and hardly a plot.
“Our Town” forces us to recognize the importance of the simple details of our daily lives. Not just to appreciate these seemingly unimportant moments, but to understand their connection to time and history.
We live in a world were multi-media has made the entire world a “virtual neighborhood”. We are continually connected with each other. But are we really?
The action of the play takes place in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. But as the name “Our Town” implies, it could just as easily take place where you are sitting right now.
Years ago I saw a performance of this play at the MRT but somehow, this Lowell High production was more poignant and will be more memorable. Perhaps it was the setting – you can’t get much more unadorned than the Little Theater. And the student-actors performed wonderfully. The final act, in a graveyard after many of the characters had died, featured the spirits of the deceased sitting in folding chairs staring vacantly out above the audience and discussing life as it was during their lives and after. These “spirits” speaking from the afterlife delivered the very clear message that the little things in life, the things we mindlessly do 365 days per year are important and should be appreciated as such.