OUR TOWN is a 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning three-act play by American playwright Thornton Wilder. It tells the story of the fictional American town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, between 1901 and 1913 through everyday events in the lives of its citizens.
Wilder used several theatrical devices, setting the play in the actual theater where it is being performed, and having several characters speak directly to the audience. The play is traditionally performed without a set (other than two tables, chairs, and a few minimal pieces standing in for other furniture and locations), and the actors typically mime their actions without the use of props. Although period costuming was originally used and often still is, the play is now performed just as frequently in modern dress to emphasize its timelessness.
Characters (in order of appearance)
STAGE MANAGER – A narrator, commentator, and guide through the play who is on stage for most of the script. He or she joins in the action of the play periodically, as the reverend at the wedding, the soda shop owner, a local townsperson, and speaking directly to Emily after her death. There are many lines and a few long monologues. It’s possible to split the part between two or more actors, but our preference is to cast one actor in the role.
EMILY WEBB – She grows from a precocious teenage girl through her wedding to George Gibbs and to her early death.
GEORGE GIBBS – He is the boy next door, is a very likable young man, a star baseball player, wants to be a farmer, and is in love with Emily. He starts as an irresponsible teenager who matures over time and becomes a responsible husband, father and farmer.
FRANK GIBBS – George’s father. The hard working town physician, who goes out to tend to his patients at all hours.
JULIA GIBBS – George’s mother. She dreams of going to Paris, but doesn’t get there. She laster dies while visiting her daughter in Ohio.
CHARLES WEBB – Emily’s father. Editor of the Grover’s Corners Sentinel.
MYRTLE WEBB – Emily’s mother. Serious, crisp, and pragmatic.
JOE and SI CROWELL – Local paperboys. Joe’s intelligence earns him a full scholarship to MIT where he graduates at the top of his class.
SIMON STIMSON – The choir director and church organist. He is troubled and cynical, and is still bitter and cynical beyond the grave.
HOWIE NEWSOME – The milkman, and a fixture of Grover’s Corners.
REBECCA GIBBS –George’s spirited younger sister.
WALLY WEBB – Emily’s younger brother.
PROFESSOR WILLARD – A rather longwinded lecturer.
LOUELLA SOAMES – A gossipy townswoman and member of the church choir.
CONSTABLE WARREN – The policeman who works very hard to keep law and order in Grover’s Corners.
JOE STODDARD – The undertaker overseeing Emily Webb’s funeral.
SAM CRAIG – A nephew of Mrs. Gibbs who left town to seek his fortune. He returns to town after twelve for Emily’s funeral.
Additional ensemble roles, some with a few lines, may be double cast—meaning that someone may play those roles and another role.
Roles of the Gibbs and Webb family will be cast as written; all other roles may be male or female. Age will be less important than the proper demeanor for each character. Although the script is sometimes played in a folksy New England way with accents typical of New Hampshire in the early 1900s (especially for the Stage Manager), our cast will not use accents and will focus instead on a sincere, unsentimental determination to tell their universal story.
AUDITIONS will be Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15 and 16, beginning at 6 PM. Actors should prepare a 10-20 line monologue from a 20th Century American play, and will also read sides from the script. Callback auditions may be scheduled if necessary.
REHEARSALS will also be on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Rehearsals will include some workshop days in pantomime, improv, and ensemble building. Rehearsals will also include significant time on building characters and understanding their relationships to each other.
PERFORMANCES are planned for June 24, 25 and 26 at Hole in the Wall Theater in downtown New Britain.