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Our Town – Revamped

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 919
  • Category: Play

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            In order to make a Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town more accessible to a mainstream MTV viewing audience a great many elements of the play must be changed.  The play should not be a time period piece but rather a more up-to-date scene would enhance the play’s likeability.  Also, the dialect of Wilder’s play would have to be brought up to par with the vernacular of today; that is not to say that street jive should be incorporated into the dialogue but some of the language would have to be compromised such as changing home to crib or other important measures in order for a more accessible play to be performed and understood, for instance Wilder writes, “So—people a thousand years from now—this is the way we were in the provinces north of New York at the beginning of the twentieth century.

—This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying.” (Wilder Our Town) instead of saying it like this the quote could be, When people look back at this time and place they will see us and how we truly were, how growin’ up and marryin’ was just the same, no matter the ‘when’ no matter the ‘where’, the ‘how’ stays solid.  Or even when Mrs. Gibbs is talking with Emily before she and George’s wedding, “[P]eople are meant to go through life two by two. ’Tain’t natural to be lonesome.” (Wilder Our Town), she could say, It ain’t no normal thing to be jus’ one person in this whole world; people needs each other jus’ like in Noah’s Ark, it’s the same now as then.

            The landscape of the play, or its setting of the small town of Grover’s Corners would also have to be changed.  The most important aspect of a performance or play is that the audience can relate to it on a certain level.  The allegory of the play within the play should remain the same but the element of the play within the play taking place at Grover’s Corners should be changed.  This change could be Grover high school, an inner-city school or town so that more physical elements of familiarity can be encapsulated into the play’s revamping.

            The play should still maintain the narration given by the stage manager, it provides a vital role for the accessibility of the play and the understanding of the audience to the play.  If the actions, and thoughts of the main characters are played out then they are better understood: keep in mind the famous movie Ferris Beuhler’s Day Off in which the entirety of the movie is narrated by the main protagonist Ferris.  This made the movie more endearing to the audience; thus, the stage manager’s/narrator’s role becomes even more important for the revamping as he allows the audience to follow the actions of the play without mishap or misunderstanding.

            The daily life of the play fits pretty well with the attention span of the MTV audience; the drunkard which causes gossip in the town is still relevant to today’s audience, but the age role of Simon Stimson could be played by a person in their 20’s and instead of being the church organist he could be the keyboard player or bassist of the local band, thus making the play ‘interesting’ and on the same level as the audience.

            Also the issue of spousal abuse or abuse in general is also an element of the play that is still relevant for today’s viewing audience.  Mr. Webb’s not taking his father’s advice on the issue of mistreating his partner could be juxtaposed with a relationship in which spousal or relationship abuse does occur, thus giving the audience a comparison point and a morality check.

            Emily’s character could be vamped up to encapsulate the cares and concerns of a modern day female.  The issues of the play are still universal such as marrying at a young age and dying during child birth but there could also be a dramatic edge to Emily and George’s relationship such as her not wanting to have children straight away but getting a career first or going to college.  Or George’s character could feel a little more trapped by the marriage, even though he loves Emily he feels like they could be doing more with their lives at the moment than having a family.  These issues would add some extra edge to Wilder’s classic narrative.

Thornton Wilder’s primary concept of the play, that of death, and the eery effect of ghosts still applies to today’s society which is engorged upon horror stories.   The final act of the play, the third act should be the main focus of the story to the MTV audience.  The dead talking about the living, just as they gossiped in real life makes for a great end to the revamped version and nothing really needs to be changed.  Especially the last few lines given by the stage manager of how poets and saints sometimes know every minute of being alive, that line has legs and can walk:  That line will be the closing of the revamped version of Wilder’s play as it portrays how precious life is, and how every moment is a gift.  That line and sentiment is still accessible to today’s modern audience.

Work Cited

Wilder, Thornton.  Our Town.  Perennial Classics.  New York.  2003.

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