Presentation on theme: "Our Town Thornton Wilder. Who is Thornton Wilder? An American teacher/writer who lived between 1987-1975. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Bridge."— Presentation transcript:
Who is Thornton Wilder? An American teacher/writer who lived between 1987-1975. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Bridge of San Luis Rey in 1927. Wilder quickly became a literary celebrity, keeping company with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein.
Our Town In 1938, Wilder turned to playwriting and Our Town was a great success for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize a second time. In this play, Wilder presents a universal picture of towns people through his presentation of Grover’s corners. He portrays the day-to-day activities, triumphs, sorrows, casual conversations and formal traditions of town’s people—not because he wants to praise Grover’s Corners, but because he wants to praise humanity.
The Context That people should appreciate the details and interactions of everyday life while they live them. The time was critical because World War II was on the horizon when the play hit theaters in 1938. It was a time of tremendous international tension, and citizens across the globe suffered from fear and uncertainty. Our Town directed attention away from these negative aspects of life in the late 1930s and focused instead on the aspects of the human experience that make life precious.
The Context Wilder revealed his faith in the stability and constancy of life through his depiction and discussion of the small town of Grover’s Corners, with its linear plot of Daily life, Marriage, and Death.
Stylistic Innovations Setting The Stage Manager Mime Flexibility of time
Setting The time and place of this text are described in great details by the stage manager. Grover’s Corners, 1901, New Hampshire, America. The play portrays a panoramic view of the lives of two neighboring families from a small town. The three acts are titled: Daily Life, Marriage, and Death.
Setting The play is realistic in the sense that it presents the minute details of daily life. (a milkman delivers milk, a family has a hurried weekday breakfast, two young people fall in love). Yet, Wilder innovates a new concept of realism when he fills the play with devices that emphasize the artificiality of theater. (the stage manager, the stage’s bare setting, the mime) The life we see on the stage becomes merely representative of real life, thanks to Wilder’s metaphorical and symbolic manipulation.
The setting Wilder juxtaposes the realm of the play with the real world of the audience. He does not distance the audience from the events on the stage, for he constantly acknowledges the artificial nature of the stage. This closeness between the audience and the story forces the audience to identify more fully with the characters and events.
The Stage Manager This figure is an unconventional character in the canon of dramatic literature. Initially, the stage manager functions as a narrator who guides the audience through the play. He/she exists simultaneously in two dramatic realms.
The Stage Manager On the one hand, the stage manager appears to be outside of the fictional realm of the action. He describes the town; identifies the play and the playwright; introduces the director, the producer, and the actors. He is responsible for giving the audience all the expositions and announcements needed for clarifying the action on stage. All of these functions suggest that even though the Stage Manager occupies center stage, he is neither an actor nor a character, but rather someone who works behind the scenes.
The Stage Manager The stage manager also takes parts in the fictional realm of the play. He occasionally acts as an inhabitant of Grover’s Corners (The Druggist and the Minister.) The verisimilitude of The Stage Manager’s functions enables him to exist both within the world of Grover’s Corners and within the world that the audience occupies. The ambiguity of the nature of the stage manager allows him to bridge the gap between the audience and the stage.
Mime The mime is a theatrical technique that includes the use of physical movements and body gestures to convey the meaning. Wilder has employed the mime to emphasize the artificiality of the theatre, and to assert that the play presents a representation of reality. Examples: the milk man, the cooking mothers.
The Flexibility of Time There are two main time zones in the play: First: the fictional time of the play Second: the real time of the audience Yet, these time zones are treated flexibly, and interrelatedly.
The fictional time of the play This time zone covers the duration of time the plot covers: thirteen years. This time zone is not linear either for Wilder interrupts it with many elements: flash back: ex.? foreshadowing: ex.?
The fictional time of the play The fictional time of the play covers two realms of existence with their time zones: The time of the living The time of the dead These two times are not entirely seperated, for they interrelate when Emily returns to relive a situation from her previous life.
The real time of the audience This time covers the actual time of the performance: two hours. Keep in mind that since the audience enter the metaphysical world of make believe, the durability of these two hours changes. The relativity of time.
The Flexibility of time This features includes the amalgam of the fictional time of the audience with the real time of the audience through the figure of the stage manager and some characters who sit among the audience, and some theatrical techniques as well. The feature also includes how time present, past and future are intermingled and interrelated.
Themes The importance of daily life. The human companionship. The appreciation of life.
Symbols The time capsule The time capsule embodies the human desire to keep a record of the past. Wilder challenges this notion. He has the Stage Manager place Our Town into the capsule so the people opening it in the future will not only appreciate the daily lives of the townspeople from the past, but also their own daily lives in the future.
Symbols Mornings All three acts begin in the morning which is always a new beginning. Morning is the time of day that has repetitive chores.
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