Thornton Wilder’s Our Town comes to Santa Cruz this month at the Center Sage in downtown Santa Cruz! OUR TOWN, set in the early 20th century, has been described as “the record of a tiny New Hampshire village as created by the lives of its most humble inhabitants”. It invites reflection on how our country has changed over the past century. Yet the play is less about a particular time than about time itself, and the passing ephemeral quality of all life. Much like the inhabitants of Grover’s Corners, we too make breakfast, go to work, celebrate birthdays, get sick, get drunk, get married, raise children, and endure trouble. And yes, we also die.
Wilder’s play reflects his encounter with the Zen inspired Noh theater of Japan where Buddhist themes were played out on a largely bare stage. OUR TOWN’s staging is likewise spare: 2 ladders, 2 tables, several chairs. Much of the action is mimed and left to the imagination of the audience. It conveys in a Zen-like fashion a sense of the preciousness of human life in the face of cosmic immensity.
Thus the play evokes and celebrates the luminous, extraordinary, even the sacred quality of everyday life in every time and place. As the Stage Manager, whose folksy commentary moves the play along, puts it: “We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t even the stars. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.”
Now more than ever, amid the fears, turmoil, and toxic divisions of our public life, OUR TOWN lifts up a larger sense of perspective that gives significance and meaning to our individual lives and relationships. For we too dwell, as young Rebecca in the play reminds us, in “the United States of America…the Earth… the Universe, and the Mind of God.”
Tickets and Showtimes
The show runs April 6th through the 22nd on weekends at the Center Stage, 1001 Center Street, Santa Cruz. Show times are at 8 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, and on Sunday at 2PM. Tickets can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3205509 and are $25 general admission and $10 for anyone of limited means.
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