American Drama Lecture 7 -- Our Town.docx - American Drama...

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9/27/17 American Drama Lecture 7: Our Town (Thorton Wilder’s Divine Comedy) turns human existence itself into a mode of life that families can recognize...copeable (because its a member of your family) turns love, marriage, universal family into a presence of existence. The Empty Stage o When the curtain rises on Our Town, the bare stage requires the audience to make it our collective town-by adding the props and the context to make that setting ours o We participate in the production of the play through our co- production of scenes that evoke our imagination for their realization o Participation through imagination renders the play ours o The stage manager—character that can’t be restricted to any singular form of human life. He asks us to take up what’s happening on the stage and to add to the usual conditions an additional faculty—the imagination—we have to add the tangible things (furniture and historical context) the act of the additional participation quite literally renders the play ours. We make the scenery. Through our imagination…stage manager helps us to do so o We make it ours by participating in the unfolding drama of the play. Instead of spectators, we become engaged participants in the creative imagination out of which the action emerged o The stage manager can impersonate any of the other characters. Has a foreknowledge of what will happen, has happened, and is happening to all characters. Brings to us, as onlookers, a lesson on how to utilize a capacity to watch. We’re watching with our imagination and a responsibility to bear…a witness a evanescence to all characters we’re about to access? Stage manager talks in past tense…he knows the future. So do we. By doing this, he complicates the story…makes us expect something to happen. The Uncanny Setting o This paly violates the basic elements of drama—suspense, narrative, and action.

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