'Our Town' encourages appreciation of time

imageThornton Wilder’s tale “Our Town” reflects the enduring idea that humans never take enough time to appreciate the beauty of everyday life, said Mark Cole, who will direct the play as the opening production of SUNY Oswego’s theatre season.

“When the character of Emily Webb wishes for more time, she is making a wish each of us makes regularly in today’s world,” Cole said.

The theatre department will take time to bring Wilder’s play to life with an Oct. 19 opening in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

“Our Town” chronicles everyday happenings at the beginning of the 20th century in Grover’s Corners, N.H., where milk is delivered, children walk to school and the church choir rehearses. The story is told through the guidance of a Stage Manager character and, according to Wilder’s instructions, with minimal scenery. 

“The lyrical language of the play eloquently works on the audience’s imagination so that it creates the visual details of time and place,” said Cole, professor and chair of theatre at SUNY Oswego. “The character of the Stage Manager orchestrates the action on stage and addresses the audience directly, asking it to remember the past, consider what is important or eternal about human existence and witness the cycle of life in one specific place.”

Toward the end of the play, Emily relives her 12th birthday and realizes that few people ever appreciate life as it happens.

Senior theatre major Ryan Sprague, cast as Emily’s father, admitted gaining a greater appreciation of the universal themes. “In rehearsing for this play, it hit me that we take time and family for granted,” Sprague said. “I appreciate everyday occurrences more now, like the visit from my parents this past weekend. I might not have appreciated their visit so much before (this play).”

Its celebration of the small town and praise for humanity helped earn “Our Town” and Wilder a Pulitzer Prize in 1938.

A preview performance of “Our Town” will begin at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, with all seats $5. Subsequent stagings will begin at 8 p.m. Oct. 19 to 22, with a 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinee on Oct. 23.

A talk-back, led by SUNY Oswego faculty members Jessica Hester of theatre and Robert Moore of English, will follow the Oct. 20 performance.

For the regular run, tickets cost $10, $9 for seniors and students, and $7 for SUNY Oswego students.

For reservations or information, call the Tyler Hall box office at 312-2141 or e-mail tickets@oswego.edu.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Small-town folks—SUNY Oswego will begin its theatre season with a production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” opening Oct. 19 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre. The play offers slices of everyday small-town life from the early 20th century, focusing on the stories of the neighboring Webb and Gibbs families. From left are Ryan Sprague and Deva Holub, as Mr. and Mrs. Webb, and Megan McGarvey and Greg Salmon as Mrs. and Dr. Gibbs.

(Posted: Sep 21, 2005)