April 14, 2022
East Texas Baptist University’s Department of Music and Theatre Arts continued its’ strong slate of performances April 7-10 with a stirring rendition of Our Town, written by Thornton Wilder. The thought-provoking story follows unassuming characters in the fictitious town Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire. The show was directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Arts John Dement.
“It has been a pleasure working with this group of young people,” Dement said. “They have really taken Wilder’s words and made them come alive.”
Our Town is a simple, character-driven story that details the characters’ daily lives, love stories, grieving, death, and ultimately their hopes for eternity. The drama was originally performed in 1938 and has become an American classic after winning the Pulitzer Prize. As a result, Mr. Dement emphasized the finesse required from its’ actors.
“Playing [the characters] in any dramatic way is too much,” he added. “The actor need only know their lines and listen to the other actors on stage to be successful. In fact, if you are acting at all in this play, then you are overacting.”
The production firmly centers itself on the lives of the characters and their interpersonal relationships, and thus the cast can make or break the play. Because of the character dynamics, the bonds between cast members are crucial, and according to sophomore theatre education major Amy Hobbs (portraying Emily Webb), the cast shone in that area as well.
“Being in Our Town has been such a blessing,” Hobbs said. “The sense of community I have felt with the cast both on and offstage is something truly special. The show teaches us the importance of being present with others as we live life. In the third act, my character learns that life goes so fast that we don’t realize how amazing life is until it’s too late. This is a beautiful story that goes through the experiences of daily life, love and marriage, and death.”
While Our Town’s plot is simple, with the right cast and directive guidance, it can be an imaginative and entertaining show. To sophomore theatre major Hannah Hayes (portraying stage manager/narrator), the performance was blessed with both.
“I really enjoyed working with the entire cast,” Hayes said. “As a veteran of Grover’s Corner, it was really refreshing and exciting to perform with this cast under Mr. Dement’s direction. He really emphasizes that theatre is an escape from the real world, and even in a show like this, where it could be placed in Marshall and have the same effect, you are able to sit, relax, and enjoy a few hours of pure imagination.”