Update, Sept. 13, 2019: A photo of the cast of "Our Town" was added to this article.
University Theatre’s production of "Our Town" opens on Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. The play, by Thornton Wilder, centers on two families in New Hampshire in the early 20th Century.
The director of "Our Town", Mia Self, assistant director of acting, directing and theater programs for University Theatre , explained the plot.
“It’s set in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire,” Self said. “It just looks at small-town life, but what’s interesting to me is there are a lot of big, universal questions like why do things matter. We have these expectations about relationships and family and success and the things that we’re doing and how those things relate to our place in the world.”
Self said "Our Town" is a classic American story that had to be included in their season.
“'Our Town' was written by Thornton Wilder,” Self said. “It was a play that was written in the late 1930s. It’s a play a lot of people have read in high school or college. I’ve had so many conversations with people who’ve either watched the production or been in the production at various points in their life. Because it’s, in a lot of ways, a classic American story, it’s part of our season.”
Because many people have read "Our Town" in the past, Self said they tried to stay close to the original and only made minor adjustments to the characters and set.
“What’s interesting to me about a production that’s been done a lot is that we get very clear images of who somebody is in our mind, and when we see somebody who’s different than that thought playing the role sometimes that surprises people,” Self said. “Our Stage Manager is being played by a woman, some of our roles are cross-gender cast, but I don’t think there’s anything shocking in this show in the sense of being radically different than what people know.”
Nicole Hiemenz, a fourth-year studying fashion and textile management , was cast as the Stage Manager, who narrates the story and helps the audience analyze the significance of the show on a personal level.
“It kind of details a general human life through the lens of Emily Webb and George Gibbs, who grow up together, fall in love and get married,” Hiemenz said. “From a meta perspective, there are points at which the audience is taken out of the story to apply the small-time narrative to overall human experiences, like love and grief and belonging and human connection.”
Hiemenz hopes "Our Town" helps attendees recognize how fast-paced life is, and that it gives them reason to pause and appreciate life.
“I hope that they take more time to slow down - it’s kind of cheesy, but to slow down and take more time to smell the flowers,” Hiemenz said. “I feel like our society is speeding up and speeding up with instant connections, and you’re expected to be available all the time. The kind of communities are different, so I hope that people are able to take stock of the connections that they have and really value and appreciate even the little moments while they have them.”
"Our Town" runs from Sept. 26-29 and Oct. 2-6 in Thompson Hall. Tickets are $6 for NC State students and may be purchased online. More information about University Theatre can be found on its website.