High school drama presenting 'Our Town' to Prineville
Theater enthusiasts and people with a fondness for small town life are encouraged to check out Crook County High School Drama's spring play, opening later this week.
"'Our Town' is a classic American play. I know that when I say 'classic,' people tend to roll their eyes and think of what they read or performed in school, and it's true that 'Our Town' is pretty much synonymous with high school theatre. It has minimal set, easy-to-find costumes, no harsh language or violence and lots of characters. But just because it's ubiquitous, doesn't mean it isn't good."
Performances will take place in the high school auditorium Thursday-Saturday, May 26-28 at 7 p.m. and Sunday May 29 at 2 p.m. The play lasts approximately two hours.
Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town in 1938, and Dunaway notes that it broke every rule that existed in theatre at that time. The play acknowledges the audience, breaking the fourth wall constantly. It has basically no scenery and no props, and the actors mime everything. There's a character called the Stage Manager, who jumps around in time.
"Even though the story takes place in a small town in New Hampshire 120 years ago, the audience is never told they're anywhere but in a theatre in the present day," he said. "It's very meta."
Dunaway said he chose this particular play for two reasons. One is because his predecessor and former drama teacher Anita Hoffman had planned to do this show, so the scripts were purchased, and the paperwork was done.
"The creative reason was because I was interested in working against the stale reputation the show has."
So far, the students have been enjoying the process. Dunaway said that everyone is energized by the sense of community that comes with doing theatre -- even if the play has some weird, archaic language they occasionally have to Google.
"I play the character called the Stage Manager, who basically takes on the role of a narrator" said senior Logan Webster. "He provides background information about the town and the characters. He's the only person in the play who talks directly to the audience."
This production is his last in high school and he plans to attend Southern Oregon University this fall to study theatre.
"The play has a really interesting structure," Webster went on to say. "The first act is daily life in Grover's Corners, the second act is about the main characters falling in love and getting married and the third act is about the afterlife, what Thornton Wilder thought the afterlife might look like."
Connor Lopez, a freshman, plays George Gibbs, a character he describes as "a stupid but lovable guy." This is Connor's first play.
"George has been in love with Emily, the girl next door, for a long time," he explained. "His arc is going from being obsessed with baseball and things like that to wanting to be a farmer and be committed to Emily."
Dunaway said the play will likely resonate with people who call Crook County home. He believes there are a lot of things the community of Prineville will recognize in the show.
"There's a reason it's called 'Our Town' and not 'Grover's Corners,'" he said. "That sense of recognition is intentional. It's part of the lasting relevance of the play. No matter what, if you're from a small town, some part of Grover's Corners will feel like home."
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