Our Town

Royal George Theatre | april 9 – october 15

By THORNTON WILDER
Directed by MOLLY SMITH
Set designed by KEN MACDONALD
Costumed designed by WILLIAM SCHMUCK
Lighting designed by KIMBERLY PURTELL
Original music and sound designed by JAMES SMITH

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it – every, every minute?”

Grover’s Corners – an ordinary town rendered with extraordinary care in this American classic. In a play stripped to its essence, a Stage Manager welcomes the audience and tells us the story of life in this small town. We are invited into the everyday lives of the town’s inhabitants and through them, witness enduring truths of the human condition. We follow the lives of George and Emily whose touching romance reminds us of the urgent need to live each moment. First produced in 1938, this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama has become an American classic and is Thornton Wilder’s most renowned play.

“When you even think about programming an avowed classic like Thornton Wilder’s beautiful play, it is vital that you next think about who should direct it. In this case I immediately knew that Molly Smith, who has an unmatched ability to get right to the core of classic pieces of American theatre and breathe new, vivid life into them, was the one. Any of you who saw her dazzling production of My Fair Lady here at The Shaw will agree!” —JM

This show is recommended for ages 11+.
Running time is approximately 2 hours and 25 minutes including one intermission.

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Molly Smith
Molly Smith
Director
Ken Macdonald
Ken MacDonald
Set Designer
William Schmuck
William Schmuck
Costume Designer
Kimberly Purtell
Kimberly Purtell
Lighting Designer
James Smith
James Smith
Original Music and Sound Designer
Allan Teichman
Allan Teichman
Stage Manager
Leigh McClymont
Leigh McClymont
Assistant Stage Manager
David Ball
David Ball
Sam Craig / Baseball Player
Tess Benger
Tess Benger
Rebecca Gibbs
Kate Besworth
Kate Besworth
Emily Webb
Benedict Campbell
Benedict Campbell
Stage Manager
Aaron Ferguson
Aaron Ferguson
Constable Warren
Sharry Flett
Sharry Flett
Mrs Soames
Kristi Frank
Kristi Frank
Lady in Box / Ensemble
Charlie Gallant
Charlie Gallant
George Gibbs
Patrick Galligan
Patrick Galligan
Dr Gibbs
Rebecca Gibian
Rebecca Gibian
Ensemble
Jeff Irving
Jeff Irving
Howie Newsome
Billy Lake
Billy Lake
Joe Crowell / Si Crowell /
Baseball Player / Belligerent Man
Robert Markus
Robert Markus
Wally Webb
Catherine McGregor
Catherine McGregor
Mrs Gibbs
Patrick McManus
Patrick McManus
Mr Webb
Peter Millard
Peter Millard
Simon Stimson
Julain Molnar
Julain Molnar
Lady in Balcony / Ensemble
David Schurmann
David Schurmann
Professor Willard / Joe Stoddard
Jenny L Wright
Jenny L Wright
Mrs Webb

What is the relation between the countless “unimportant” details of our daily life, on the one hand, and the great perspectives of time, social history, and current religious ideas, on the other? What is trivial and what is significant about any one person’s making a breakfast, engaging in a domestic quarrel, in a “love scene,” in dying? – Thornton Wilder

A staple of the American theatre – from professional to amateur to educational – since its Broadway debut in 1938, Our Town is often thought of as a sentimental and nostalgic look at life in small-town America. But as Thornton Wilder wrote in the above introduction to the play, he seeks not only to examine daily life, but to see the greater meaning in the everydayness of our lives; what do those small moments say about the larger meaning of life?

The play opens with the Stage Manager’s introduction to Grover’s Corners, a fictional town based on Peterborough, New Hampshire where Wilder often spent his summers. The Stage Manager, played by Wilder himself for two weeks in the 1938 Broadway production, directly addresses the audience – he introduces us to the town, to the people that live there, and explains that the first act will be “a day in our town.” The audience is introduced to the Gibbs and Webb families who represent “ordinary people who make the human race seem worth preserving and represent the universality of human existence.” Throughout the play, we follow the families’ relationships, specifically between George Gibbs and Emily Webb.

Stage Manager: Almost everybody in the world gets married, – you know what I mean? In our town there aren’t hardly any exceptions. Most everybody in the world climbs into their graves married.

Act Two is set three years later on George and Emily’s wedding day and we are taken back through their courtship. The Stage Manager also warns us at the top of Act Two what Act Three will be about: “The First Act was called the Daily Life. This Act is called Love and Marriage. There’s another Act coming after this; I reckon you can guess what that’s about.” In Act Three, nine more years have gone by and Emily has died in childbirth. As the funeral procession crosses the stage, Emily emerges and begins to question what it means to live and die. When she realizes she can relive any day in her life, she asks to be transported back to her 12th birthday. As she watches, she is saddened by the realization that the living do not realize the beauty around them and expresses this in one of modern theatre’s most moving speeches:

Emily: I can’t. I can’t go on. Oh! Oh. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back – up the hill – to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-bye, good-bye, world. Good-bye Grover’s Corners … and Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking … and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee, and new-ironed dresses and hot baths … and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

Our Town debuted at Princeton, New Jersey’s McCarter Theatre before ultimately moving to the Henry Miller Theatre in New York City. In The New York Times review Brooks Atkinson called it “one of the finest achievements of the current stage … a hauntingly beautiful play.”

Play by Play

May 18-20 and September 28-30
Calling all theatre lovers! Meet the creative minds behind theatre-making at the Shaw Festival, from play selection to play direction. Includes: four plays, three lunches, presentations, and parking. From $395.

Teen Workshops

Learn from the pros! All workshops led by Shaw artists and professionals. One workshop: $55; all three workshops: $150.

Book Beyond the Stage events at 1.800.511.7429.

Watch a short video on what patrons are saying about Our Town.

Among the best hours I’ve ever spent in the theatre. Profoundly moving.
– Twitter

… enjoyed it thoroughly … and the standing ovation made it clear I was not alone. Well done!
– Facebook

Loved the first preview can’t wait to see it again!
– Facebook

Wonderful production – timeless, thought provoking and superbly staged.
– Twitter

… it was brilliant, it was true.
– Twitter

Great start to the season with Our Town. Another must see NOTL show. Bravo.
– Twitter

I cannot even imagine a staging that could be more memorable, more perfect than this!
– Facebook

Saw a preview performance at the Royal George, absolutely loved every moment!
– Facebook