KSU Presents Fresh Take on Thorton Wilder's "Our Town"
KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct 30, 2018) — Kennesaw State University’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies (TPS) will present a new take on Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Our Town” when the play opens at the Stillwell Theater on the Kennesaw campus, Nov. 6-11.
The play, set in Grover’s Corners, tells the story of everyday rituals—and big life events—that bind us together as humans in our community. The fictional New England town is based on Peterborough, N.H., where Wilder spent many summers.
Co-directed by TPS professor Margaret Baldwin and guest artist/musical director Christopher Hampton, the production takes a fresh look at the play’s depiction of small-town American life at the turn of the 20th century. The play made its Broadway debut in 1938, and Wilder described it then as his attempt to present “the life of a village against the life of the stars.” He was inspired from the towns among the New England hills where he spent his summers as a tutor and—later a writer—at the MacDowell Colony, taking long walks through the villages.
“In choosing to include ‘Our Town’ in our TPS performance season, we asked ourselves: ‘What does an American village look like today?’” said Baldwin. “From the start, we knew that we wanted to bring together an acting ensemble that reflected contemporary American life in its complexity and diversity with regard to race, ethnicity, gender and sexual expression.”
Another goal, Baldwin said, was to challenge the actors to see their “town” from multiple perspectives—and for audience members to have the chance to see different actors play each role. To do so, TPS created one ensemble of actors that plays two different configurations of roles. That ensemble—changing and evolving each night—serves as the central “character” of the play.
TPS Interim Chair Rebecca Makus, who also is the production’s scenic designer, noted how the play resonates with the theme of this year’s production season examining the American experience from multiple angles. She asked, “Who are we past and present? What questions have we asked (and continue to ask) about our national identity?”