Now that The Great Divide has closed, I can finally get around to blogging about the rising stack of plays that I have read recently. During the run, I was on a kick of classic American plays (hence, Crucible, Our Town, a little O'Neill for good measure) but I also had the chance to read some new works, and that was exciting. More on that, later.
When I was 12, I played Rebecca in a production of Our Town at the Fulton Opera House, starring James Waterston. Truly, I don't think I've read the play since then.. It's funny how I can remember so distinctly the way some lines were delivered and where I sat in the kitchen.. but for most of the meat of the play I was in the green room downstairs playing cards with some older, wiser actors.
Reading the play now, I was moved by how Wilder infused into the play his belief that the theatre is the most immediate way "in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it means to be human." I think Wilder and I would have been chums.
His radical use of the Stage Manager as a character in the play defied convention, taking all of the grandiosity out of the piece and focusing on the necessary - the heart; the connection between human beings. In his description at the beginning of the play, the Stage Manager says:
There's some scenery for those who think they have to have scenery.
Paul Newman as the Stage Manager
I can see why Our Town has endured, when so many other plays have faded into obscurity. Though, critics at the time preferred the first two acts, and not the third - saying, "A good playwright when he deals with living people, [Wilder] is only a bad philosopher when he deals with the dead ones." Naturally, as any young female with a desire to play Emily, I enjoyed the third act, above all! How could you find fault with these beautiful lines?
I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. ... Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? - every, every minute?When I think about the way I live my life - rushing from work, to class, to auditions.. I think, how often do I take the time to really look at someone? Or share a moment of genuine connection? Am I letting my life rush by me in a blur of checks on my to-do list? Will I look back on my life, as Emily did, and feel that I didn't realize what I had when I had it? In honor of spring, let's all try to stop and smell the roses, as they say; appreciating the little moments in our day that remind us of the beauty of being alive.
Tomorrow's Play: Beyond the Horizon by Eugene O'Neill