The Eau Claire theatre department is back with their latest production of the year, “Our Town.” They will be performing their rendition of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play every day for the remainder of this week.
Written in 1938, the production follows a budding relationship between two young characters, Emily (Kate Gaulke), and George (Nate Plummer). The play covers their life together in three different acts: “Daily Life,” “Love and Marriage,” and “Death and Loss.”
“Overall, (the play) really follows two people who fall in love and get married and ultimately their separation,” Gaulke said. “Through this kind of simple act of living, it touches on very complex life matters about appreciating life, paying attention to what we have and really caring about those around us.”
The beginning act starts with the Stage Manager, the narrator of the play, introducing theaudience to Grover’s Corners, a small New Hampshire town in the year 1901. This is also where theaudience first learns of the romance that starts between the two characters.
Three years pass between the end of the first act and the start of the second. The two once-youthful characters are now soon to be married. But before the wedding takes place, the stage manager takes the audience in a flashback to where both Emily and George startedshowing interest in each other.
The final act, “Death and Loss,” is placed 12 years after the beginning of the play, in the year 1913. Emily has since died giving birth to her second child and everyone is at her funeral. Her spirit speaks amongst the rest of the town’s deceased members. One of them is George’s mother, Mrs. Gibbs. She and Emily end the play speaking about the
innocence of the living.
“I think (“Our Town”) is one of the classic plays of theatre literature,” Plummer said. “It’s a show that not only theatre people should know about but it’s a great story for just general audiences and especially our generation as it applies to so much about young life. The main characters are our age …”
An interesting fact about Thornton’s play is that it is put on with hardly any props. There are a few tables, chairs and ladders used in the first act, but they are taken out before the beginning of the second. The rest of the play is done completely pantomimed.
The theatre department did add their own flare to the story. Kevin Gawley, the scenic, projection and lighting director, said the production crew gave the Riverside Theatre a few special additions for the play like a wood floor and a back wall that blends in with the Riverside Theatre’s walls.
“On top of that, then we added projections to it to give some emotional context to the story telling as well as some environmental connections to the story telling as it goes throughout the play,” Gawley said. “And we used projection designs to sort of give an atmospheric magic to the show as we go throughout
The play’s opening night was Oct. 18 but it will continue through the end of the week. There will be 7:30 p.m. showings
Thursday through Saturday. The final performance is at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. All productions are held in the Riverside Theatre in the Haas Fine Arts Building.