By Abram Berry
Editor in Chief
Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you,” laments Emily Webb in Act III of Our Town, one of the most famous scenes in American theatre. In the scene, the recently deceased Emily is mourning the life she once had, and did not appreciate. The Alta Theatre Department just finished a production of this critically-acclaimed American classic.
In terms of plays, Our Town is actually somewhat unique. It is intended to be performed in a simple, stripped capacity; there are no props, and the set is made up of a few pieces of sleek, black furniture. Playwright Thornton Wilder asked that all productions of Our Town do their best to perform it as he intended, and Alta respected his wishes.
Interestingly enough, despite a lack of props, there are numerous objects used throughout the play. There is a catch, however; they are all pantomimed. That means, for example, that one actor had to pretend to walk a horse that doesn’t exist.
“I definitely got sick of making breakfast everyday,” said Aurie Ackermann, who played Emily’s mother, Mrs. Gibbs. “I joked with [fellow actress] Lauren McHenry about having to prepare invisible meals three times per show.” Ackermann said oatmeal is the easiest thing to pantomime, so she did that frequently.
Some actors were less enthused, like Chloe Barrus, who joked that she “learned that [she’s] not good at pantomime.”
There is more to Our Town than imaginary objects and a minimal set. At its core, it is a story about learning to appreciate what you have before it is too late. “Theatre is a way of community with the public, [themes] that are relevant to our society,” said Ackermann.
Our Town is a fantastic play about real life. It’s a story about family, morality, life, and death. It will surely live on as beloved piece of Alta Theatre history.