Lessons Learned from “Our Town”

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Lessons Learned from “Our Town”

The cast and crew of

The cast and crew of "Our Town," the spring production of the Kenwood Drama Club.

Courtesy of Elleigh Gardner

The cast and crew of "Our Town," the spring production of the Kenwood Drama Club.

Courtesy of Elleigh Gardner

Courtesy of Elleigh Gardner

The cast and crew of "Our Town," the spring production of the Kenwood Drama Club.

Luvia Thomas, Junior

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As a member of our school’s drama club, I was honored to participate in the spring production of the play “Our Town,” written by Thornton Wilder and produced and directed by theater teacher Elleigh Gardner. I had the privilege to act alongside many other talented students here at Kenwood, and I’m happy to have had the chance to work with the senior class before they graduated. This production has created a family out of students with a passion for theater and I honestly couldn’t have asked for anything better.

There are two main lessons this play can teach you: 1) To be alive is to move in clouds of ignorance and to spend time as though you have millions and 2) “You’ve got to love life to have life, and you’ve got to have life to love life” as one character in the play explains.

I’d like to believe this means in order to truly live life you have to love what it is that you do. As cliché as it is and as it may sound, we’re not promised tomorrow, we’re only guaranteed a chance to live as we please and to make do with what we have. Life isn’t about what clothes you buy, how much money you have, or even the stars in the sky, but about what you do with the life you have while you’re living it. Whether it’s ten days or one hundred years. If that isn’t the bittersweet beauty of life I’m not sure what is.

The show also creates realistic representations of relationships, especially between the main characters, George and Emily, a couple. This creates an interesting dynamic throughout the play as it allows us to reminisce about the awkwardness and self-consciousness we feel when we like someone as we see Emily allude to plenty of times within the play. Because of this, the play gives a sense of nostalgia and can cause people to reflect on their life in relation to the characters.

The play’s setting is the town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire: latitude 42 degrees 40 minutes; longitude 70 degrees 37 minutes in May of 1901. In “Our Town,” I played Professor Willard, a college professor who briefly comes in to lay the facts about the history of the town.

The basic plot of the play is narrated by the stage managers (Matthew Tydings and Abigail Bruzdzinski) about the daily life in Grover’s Corners and the tale of the love story, in living and in passing, between Emily and George.  It is here where we learn more about the characters, their goals, and daily struggles and how they cope.

For those who missed the show, the rundown below offers a look into how the play imparts its lessons about relationships and the meaning of life. Spoilers ahead!

Breaking down “Our Town”

In the first Act, “Daily life,” we’re introduced to the two families. The first is the Gibbs: Frank Gibbs (Mark Mumbi), Julia Gibbs (Aneirah Hanna), their money-loving daughter Rebecca (Annelise Hagen), and their son, George (Francis Bell), a talented baseball player. The next family we are introduced to is the Webbs, consisting of Charles and Myrtle (Jorge Saucedo and Tamia Spires) and their children Emily (Bryn Lang) and Wally (Cesar Guerra).

In the rest of Grover’s corners, we see some of the problems within the town. Simone Stimson (Shelby Adkins) plays the choir piano and often shows up drunk. Although everyone in the choir is aware of her abuse of alcohol, most believe that it’s best to just try not to notice.

In the second Act, “Love and Marriage,” there’s a three-year time skip. In this act, we find out that our two main characters are getting married and we get to see the town’s reaction along the way. For example, Si Crowell (Desiray Diggs) can’t seem to understand how he could give up baseball just to get married, while Howie Newsome (Jalen Dhanoolal) and his wife both wish them well. During the act, we discover how Emily came to fall in love with George, the wedding starts. But it doesn’t start off a smoothly since both George and Emily have cold feet and want to call off the wedding.

Personally, this scene is a metaphor for stepping out from childhood and into the adult world. It looks just as scary as it is, but with the proper guidance it doesn’t have to be scary. Mr. Webb and Mrs. Gibbs brought the two back to their senses and finally, the wedding goes on. At the end of the wedding Louella Soames (Nia Hawkes), says how she knows they’ll be happy and that no matter the circumstance in any relationship, “the important thing is to be happy.”

In Act three, nine years have gone by. In in those nine years, we find out that some of the characters we’ve come to know have all passed away. With the appearance of Sam Craig (Bekah Bauer), niece of Mrs. Gibbs, and Joe Stoddard (Kira VanCamp) an undertaker, we gain some closure on what happened to some of the characters. We also find that Emily had passed away in childbirth from her second child.

When Emily dies she realizes just how different things are when you’re around and how easily it is to take things like that for granted. The audience later finds out that the deceased have an opportunity to go back in time to watch old memories. The other town residents who have died all advise Emily not to do this because it’s a painful experience. Desperate to see everyone one last time, she does this anyways and goes back to her twelfth birthday. Through this she sees everyone in the town and what they did that day and how fast everything really went, even if it didn’t seem like it at the moment. The memory goes until suddenly, Emily can no longer take looking back.

As the curtain closed on the show, not a dry eye was left in the audience.  Through the play, the audience saw just how blind we are to the world around us until it’s too late.