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Thornton Wilder's Classic Play 'Our Town' Is Hopkinsville’s Big Read Selection For Fall 2019

BigRead-OurTown-logo19.jpg
via Hoptown Chronicle

There’s an old saying in American theater circles that Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town” is being performed every night at some community playhouse around the country. 

Set in a quintessential American town at the start of the 20th century, the beloved play explores human connection, love, mortality and the depth of seemingly ordinary lives. Wilder’s lesson is that we don’t appreciate life as we should when we’re living it.

Those themes and others can be explored this fall when Hopkinsville digs into “Our Town” for the community’s sixth consecutive Big Read.

The Pennyroyal Arts Council announced last week that a $15,000 National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant has been awarded to help fund a community reading program. It will run Oct. 1 through Nov. 8.

The NEA partners with Arts Midwest to make Big Read programs possible. The Pennyroyal Arts Council is one of 78 organizations receiving a Big Read grant this year.

Several community partners help the arts council put on the Big Read, including the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville-Christian County and the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library.

“Our Town,” which made its Broadway debut at the Henry Miller Theatre on Feb. 4, 1938, is still recognized for its innovation in theatrical devices. The character known as the Stage Manager, for example, broke the so-called fourth wall by speaking directly to the audience.

“The Stage Manager also assumes control over the onstage action through such unconventional, metatheatrical devices as prompting actors and cueing scene changes,” the Thornton Wilder Society website describes. 

Wilder, who also wrote seven novels, received the Pultizer in drama for “Our Town.”

The story is set in Grover’s Corner, which was probably modeled after the small town of Petersborough, New Hampshire. Wilder spent time there working on his stories at the MacDowell Colony, which was founded in 1907 to support writers and others involved in creative work. It is still in operation today.

Details about Hopkinsville’s Big Read activities will be announced later this summer. Traditionally, there is a kick-off at the Alhambra Theatre and numerous activities around town and at local schools. 

(Jennifer P. Brown has been a Big Read volunteer in Hopkinsville for several years.)

This article first appeared on HoptownChronicle.org

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