The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Department of Performing and Visual Arts-Theatre and Pioneer Players will close out the fall semester with Thornton Wilder’s classic American play “Our Town.” Performances are Dec. 6 at 11 a.m., Dec. 6-9 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Theatre. The performance on Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. is also the Benefit Wednesday show. All tickets for Benefit Wednesday are $7, and the proceeds go to the Platteville Food Pantry and Pioneer Provisions, a free pantry/grocery service on campus which all currently enrolled students experiencing food insecurity are eligible to utilize.
Described by American playwright Edward Albee as “the greatest American play ever written,” Wilder’s play tells the story of the small town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire and the humans who inhabit it. The play is narrated by a stage manager who takes the audience through three acts in the lives of these people from 1901-1913.
“Our Town is such an iconic play, not just because of the beautiful and heartbreaking story it tells, but also because of how the story is told,” said Ann Dillon Farrelly, professor of theatre and director of the production. “It has almost no set and no props. It was a groundbreaking piece of metatheatre when it premiered in 1938, but it’s more than just a novelty. The antirealistic techniques are essential to the play’s request that we focus on the people, not the things. It’s a wonderful metaphor for how blind we can be to what’s right in front of us until it’s too late.”
The cast includes Malia Eugene as the Stage Manager, Madison DeLashmutt as Emily Webb, Max Konop as George Gibbs, Sydney Van Gelder as Mrs. Gibbs, Shaun De Vries as Doc Gibbs, Olivia Laughlin as Mrs. Webb, Daniel Sniff as Mr. Webb, Jessee Pinson as Rebecca Gibbs, Josh Landowski as Wally Webb, Ethan Gallo as Howie Newsome, Elijah Fuchs as Constable Warren, Broderick Vaclavek as Joe/Si Crowell, Kodi Jordan as Mrs. Soames, Jamie Wodack as Simon Stimson, Matthew Siekierski as Professor Willard/Joe Stoddard, Bradey Burbach as Sam Craig, and Alyssa Long, Ky Kreul, Kinsley Wetzel, and Madysen Staiduhar as the Ensemble.
“This play has been done many times by many people because it speaks to the very heart of the human experience. It may be about Grover’s Corners, but it is also about our town. Or any town. Life and death are universal experiences,” said Farrelly. “In our telling of the story, I wanted to try and answer one fundamental question: Who is the stage manager in relation to the characters in the play? Why does the stage manager tell this particular story? My choice in answering that question has, I think, opened up our production to new discoveries.”
Joining Farrelly on the production team are scenic and lighting designer and professor of theatre, Jeffrey Strange and senior lecturer and costume designer, Sarah Strange. Rounding out the production staff are student hair/makeup designer Anna Fassbinder, and student stage manager Amber Bornheimer.
“This play will break your heart. Because, over and over again, the world teaches us just how short our time on Earth is. And, over and over again, we allow ourselves to forget. We truly don’t know what we have until it’s gone. I think this play is urging us to recognize the fragility and brevity of it all and truly appreciate one another while we can. Will we ever learn?” said Farrelly.
Tickets for the production are $15 for general admission and $7 for students (price includes $2 box office transaction fee). For tickets, contact the University Box Office at 608-342-1298 or buy them online at tickets.uwplatt.edu.