Thornton Wilder’s 1938 Pulitzer Prize winning Our Town comes to life at UNO Theatre. Despite being set in an innocent, small New England town more than 100 years ago, critics, scholars and audiences world-wide feel that it speaks to everyone, everywhere, any time. “It taps into our collective folk-memory,” said The Guardian in a 2014 review. “What comes across unforgettably is the warmth of the dramatist’s affection for mundane, daily reality and his tocsin-like reminder of the evanescence of human existence.”
UNO Theatre Artistic Director D. Scott Glasser concurs, seeing this play as truly international, touching souls across boundaries. He intends to emphasize those connections, which express “globally shared humanity. All of existence is contained in our minds, creating magical imagining of space and time, the past and the future.”
He plans to include performances by local a cappella choruses with varying cultural roots and cross-cultural casting, some possibly from the community, giving yet another dimension to the idea of that word. He underscores what he sees within, noting Wilder’s global history, raised in China, schooled in Berkeley, Yale, Princeton, an archaeology student in Rome, a passionate traveler and cultural explorer, proficient in 4 languages.
When Wilder wrote the play he was dissatisfied with what was often happening in American theatre. “It was not only inadequate, it was evasive,” he said. Hence he chose to challenge theatre’s claim to be simply realistic, breaking the fourth wall, avoiding naturalistic scenery using minimal props while having a stage manager talk directly to the audience. Uncommon.
This “remarkable and beguiling work,” Glasser observes, “takes place against the vast context of endless time and a boundless universe, delving into something eternal in every human being.”
He and Wilder hold out their hands.
Our Town lives Sept 27-Oct.7 at Weber Fine Arts Building, UNO. 6001 Dodge Street. Weds.-Sat. 7:30 pm. Sun Oct 1: 2p.m. Tickets: $5- $16, UNO students: free. www.unomaha.edu/unotheatre