It’s a play about ordinary life, but it is extraordinary in its simplicity and storytelling.
“Our Town” is on stage at the Longstreet Theatre through this weekend, featuring a cast of first-year MFA acting candidates from USC’s Department of Theatre and Dance.
“Our Town” is Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning script about life in a small New England town in the early 1900s. It follows George Gibbs and Emily Webb, who fall in love, get married and make a life together. After Emily dies giving birth to their second child, she returns to Earth to re-live one day of her life, her 12th birthday. The experience makes her realize that life happens in the ordinary details of every day, yet few people appreciate it as they are waiting for something big to happen.
Wilder’s play was groundbreaking when it debuted in 1938, as he created a minimalist set that only included a few ladders and chairs. Wilder also introduced the concept of “breaking the fourth wall,” a concept in which characters in the play communicate directly with audience members.
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“To have ‘no scenery,’ however, it’s amazing how much work has gone into the set,” said Kevin Bush, communications manager for the Department of Theatre and Dance. “A completely custom floor has been constructed and painted to look like the wooden floors of the time period, and segments of the floor move to help suggest various places around the ‘town.’ It’s really an ingenious approach that works wonderfully, in my opinion, and perfectly suits the in-the-round viewing at Longstreet.”
Catch “Our Town” at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a 3 p.m. matinee also on Saturday. Tickets are $18 for general admission; $16 for USC faculty and staff, military and seniors; and $12 for students.
Tickets are available at the Longstreet Theatre box office or by calling 803-777-2551. Longstreet Theatre is at 1300 Greene St. in downtown Columbia.
Bridget Winston, Special to The State