Well, Our Town has passed the halfway point in rehearsals, and the play is starting to lift itself off of the printed page and come alive. It is very exciting to see. The challenge with great plays is to be able to do them justice – to rise to the level the playwright set. The entire cast has shown a wonderful sense of commitment, and I think that Mr. Thornton Wilder would approve of our efforts.
Then again, I may be a tad biased.
Nevertheless, it is a joy to watch these rehearsals unfold. In many ways, community theater is out there on the front lines of the theater world – with no lavish budgets to cushion the experience, and with personnel both onstage and behind the scenes toiling at regular jobs at the same time their energies are tapped by the show’s ever-growing demands upon their time, it is a testament to these people’s dedication to creating these alternate worlds that productions get mounted at all – month after month and year after year. It’s a lot easier when one is well compensated for his or her contributions, and props or set pieces or costumes seem magically to appear, as in the world of the professional theater. Not so in our corner of the universe, in which a monumental effort is required to assemble all of the pieces that make a show. The effort is all the more impressive for this reason.
Our Town is an undertaking of significant proportions; the efforts of literally dozens of people have coalesced into a small army of volunteers, all pursuing the same goal: To put on the best production we can. This effort is repeated many times a year, and not just at the Essex Community Players – it extends across all of Vermont and the rest of the country – and beyond.
In today’s whirlwind of economic woes, an increasingly balkanized culture and uncertainty about the future, the fact that community theater is still so popular, and still attracts so many hardworking individuals from every walk of life who want no more than the satisfaction of knowing they contributed to the creation of something positive, it is a most life-affirming experience indeed to be a part of it.
Yes, I think Thornton Wilder would be pleased – not only of the final product we will proudly present to our audience, but of the entire undertaking. After all, Our Town is about appreciating the value of individual moments in our lives, and there have been so many such moments forged already in the mounting of this production that we can surely say we have paid homage to the spirit of this great play in the best way possible: In our humble way, we are living out its creed.
– Adam Cunningham, Director