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It’s Our Town’s time to shine

Who are we? Who are we to each other? Our society has reached a point where it is necessary to ask such questions and re-evaluate what it means to be a participant of a community. This is especially true in light of several relatively recent tragedies, such as the Trayvon Martin shooting, the Penn State sex abuse scandal, and the massacre in Aurora, Colorado. Do such events define us? Is this what we have been reduced to?

“Our Town,” a three-act play by American writer Thorton Wilder, is a piece of literature that is helpful as we go about asking these questions. First produced in 1938, “Our Town” follows several characters as they go about the routine phases of life in the small New Hampshire town of Grover’s Corners. Performed without a set and with minimal props, the play by nature requires viewers to pay attention to the characters’ dialogue, development, and relationships.

Director Mark Hallen has wanted to produce “Our Town” here at Eastern for several years, but one thing has held him back until this point. “It’s so big, everybody knows it. What possible chance do you have to not screw it up?” said Hallen. Thus, it has not seemed right to do “Our Town” until now. So what sets this season apart from years past? A big part of it has to do with where we are historically-it is no coincidence that opening night falls right after Election Day.

Furthermore, “Our Town” deals with some of those existential questions that keep us awake at night. Hallen said that “Wilder’s characters ask things like ‘what is life all about? Are we just filling roles? Can we even really see one another?'” On a more practical level, the simplicity of the set and other technical components of “Our Town” greatly contrasts with that of last year’s production of “Twelfth Night,” and makes for an interesting antithesis.

Along these lines, there will be no unexpected interpretations or other surprises involved in Hallen’s rendition of “Our Town.” “Thorton Wilder knew what he was doing,” he said. “We do not need to be clever, but should let the play speak for itself. No gimmicks.”

That said, viewers can still expect to be dazzled by the show, albeit in an unconventional way. Hallen said that his take on “Our Town” will employ some interesting lighting techniques, in an attempt to uphold some of the play’s celestial themes. “It is going to be beautiful, but clear and still,” said Hallen.

Those interested in attending the show should mark their calendars for 8:00 p.m. on November 7th through 10th. Additionally, there will be a matinee performance on November 11th at 3:00 p.m. The regular cost of admission to “Our Town” is ten dollars, or five dollars with an Eastern ID.

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