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Our Town : A Play in Three Acts, Acting…
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Our Town : A Play in Three Acts, Acting Edition (original 1938; edition 1939)

by Thornton Wilder, Frank Craven (Adapter)

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2,905381,985 (3.66)87
Member:jburlinson
Title:Our Town : A Play in Three Acts, Acting Edition
Authors:Thornton Wilder
Other authors:Frank Craven (Adapter)
Info:Coward-McCann, Inc w/Samuel French, Inc (1939), Edition: 1st Ed, Paperback, 117 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Plays

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Our Town by Thornton Wilder (1938)

Recently added byOldGlobeLibrary, private library, AdrienneJS, xakplaztik, KatieWalenta, MTHSLAL, JNeues, gbill, TMINST
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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Profound. Ground-breaking. ‘Our Town’ is sometimes disliked because of its simplicity, but I think that misses the point. Wilder made conscious, artistic decisions to avoid a lot of adornment and action because that would have taken away from his messages about the human condition. Putting the phases of life into a skeletal framework and adding occasional cosmic and prescient perspectives are what force the audience to see how brief our lives are, and from there introspection can begin. As early critic Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times put it, the play “transmuted the simple events of human life into universal reverie” which contained nothing less than “a fragment of the immortal truth.”

Donald Margulies points out in the introduction to this edition that Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ owes a great deal to ‘Our Town’, without expanding on that. I don’t disagree, but I think that while they ask some of the same questions, such as what’s the meaning of this life and do we make a difference being here, Capra’s answers are positive and joyful and sentimental, whereas Wilder is on the fence, or at least, he lets us interpret. It’s in our power to some extent, but we really need to open our eyes to appreciate what we have and the people around us in our everyday lives. However, our lives are going to be all-too-brief and all-too-small in the grand scheme of things regardless. And yet, he says, “There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.” We are both meaningful and meaningless at the same time.

This is not ‘Our Town’, it’s ‘Our Lives’, or ‘Our Humanity’.

The first audiences that saw ‘Our Town’ performed had lived through WWI, were just getting through the great depression, and saw the world careening towards WWII. They were living in the age of radio, not television or the internet. I think the conditions were right for such a play, and audience members responded in many cases by openly weeping at the end. It’s harder to translate such a quiet, introspective play to the present world, which is focused more on action and movement, and to youth especially, because it helps to have perspective that comes with having lived more of life (and I don’t say that to be snarky). As with Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, it may evoke the reaction that “not enough happens”, but think about it.

Lastly, a note on the connection discovered to the book I read previously, which was Erica Jong’s ‘How to Save Your Own Life’ (which I thought would be quite a stretch) – Jong thinly veils Henry Miller in her character Kurt Hammer, and in the notes to ‘Our Town’ it points out that the first New York performance on February 4, 1938 was held in none other but the Henry Miller Theater. Go figure. ( )
1 vote gbill | May 9, 2015 |
It’s a regular little town in the US a hundred years ago. It’s an extraordinary little town in the US a hundred years ago. It’s very ordinariness makes it extraordinary. As is, Wilder hints, all life. To walk. To talk. To eat. To drink. And, perhaps most of all, sharing this amazing life with others. Read this play and you will remember to be alive. To everything. ( )
  debnance | Jan 18, 2015 |
I read this back in high school, but recently decided to read it again. Though the ending tends to pull at my heartstrings more than just a little bit, I have always thought that it was beautifully written. I love how Wilder is able to make the audience get into the minds of the main characters and help us live vicariously through them as their emotions run the gamut from extreme happiness to discovering the reality of our real purpose in life. ( )
  sealford | Dec 27, 2014 |
wilder does a lot of really unusual things in this play (radical even?) that i find interesting. i can't say that i understand the importance of it, but it certainly seems, as a reader, that having virtually no scenery and sparse dialogue is supposed to bring it down to the basics. the focus isn't on the set and the curtain and the props because they are nonexistent (or almost so) and so a reader or audience member can give attention to his point - that we don't appreciate the small things in life - and listen to the characters without distraction. so i think it was interesting, what he did, but i'm not sure that the play itself was. i'm sure i liked it more this time around than when i last read it (middle school? high school?) and it's alright, but not something i'm really excited about. ( )
  elisa.saphier | Dec 7, 2014 |
Probably the worst story I've ever read in my life. Supposedly the story is such that anyone could identify with it. Are you serious? Yeah maybe if you're white hetero american. Universal themes! Ha! It would at least only be boring if people didn't praise it for these things. This story just reminds me of all the things I hate in life and makes me want to die, which I don't think is the point it was trying to make at all. Why would I ever want this to be my life. Also thanks for making the character I could most identify with (not much anyways) the alcoholic priest who killed himself. I don't think that was in the author's vision. What a presumptuous douche.
Ps, yes I've seen the play and yes my point still stands. If doing a play with minimalistic props and setting makes a good play alone, that's not saying much in our towns favor. ( )
  locriian | Oct 27, 2014 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Alexander Woollcott of Castleton Township, Rutland County, Vermont
First words
This play is called "Our Town."
Quotations
Emily: Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? - every, every minute?

Stage manager: No. (Pause) the saints and poets, maybe - they do some.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
This short play seems simple at first, but is actually has a lot of depth to it. It is about the typical life in the small and quaint town of Grover's Courner, New Hampshire. The characters are very genuine. The main theme of the book asks what the purpose of life is; I think the message is to enjoy the life you have and to not waste it because it will be over before we know it. Don't take life for granted. Do something with your life. I loved reading this play because of its message and the particular way the play gets that message across.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060512636, Paperback)

Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize–winning drama of life in the town of Grover 's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.

It is now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new Foreword by Donald Margulies, who writes, "You are holding in your hands a great American play. Possibly the great American play." In addition, Tappan Wilder has written an eye-opening new Afterword, which includes Thornton Wilder's unpublished notes and other illuminating photographs and documentary material.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:59 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

This beautiful new edition features an eye-opening Afterword written by Tappan Wilder that includes Thornton Wilder's unpublished notes and other illuminating photographs and documentary material. Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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