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Uniqueness of ‘Our Town’ celebrated by library discussion

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KENT – A celebration of all that Thornton Wilder’s book and play “Our Town” represents was enjoyed March 24 during the event at Kent Memorial Library. It was the culmination of the “One Book One Town” reading program the library sponsored to encourage all Kent residents to read “Our Town.”

Cast members and the director of Sharon Playhouse’s production of “Our Town,” which was performed in October 2023. shared their thoughts with Kent residents March 24 at Kent Memorial Library. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

Members of the Sharon Playhouse cast and director, Andrus Nichols, participated in a panel discussion with Kent residents and the cast members couldn’t say enough good things about the play. They performed it last fall and it was a production that has kept the cast connected to each other in a way that other productions have not.

“This play changes every time I read it,” Nichols said. “If you read it once a decade it really is a wildly different play.”

“Our Town” is the most produced play in the world they all agreed.

“It is being produced somewhere every day on Earth. Since it was written, somebody is on stage saying those words today in some country somewhere,” she said.

The group shared their insight into the history of the play, as well as their own experience with it.

“The real line that sticks with me is [the line], ‘We don’t have time to look at one another, That’s the thing about life,’ “ said Drew Ledbetter, an actor and the associate producer of “Our Town.” “We all resonate with that. It is one of the great tragedies of life.”

A group of 24 people joined the One Book One Town program March 24 at Kent Memorial Library with a panel from Sharon Playhouse. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

Michael Kevin Baldwin, the associate artistic director and director of education at the playhouse, said there are many reasons why “Our Town” is the “greatest play” and possibly his favorite play.

“I don’t know a play that more fully encapsulates the human experience,” Baldwin said. “I find there is so much universality about this play that really anyone can find an access point.”

It is about friendship, love, marriage, death, siblings, parents, breakfast, religion and work, he said. As the group was working on the play, he said he realized that he was able to see the truths of the play everywhere around him.

It brings out all of one’s emotions and this play provides them, Baldwin said.

Emily Soell, who played one of the dead people in the play, is also the president of the Playhouse Board of Directors.

“It is simple. It’s the profoundness of simplicity,” she said. “When people see it, they come out of it feeling so part of something,” she said. Soell said the cast has maintained its connection to each other, long after the curtain closed last fall. “It is something that this play makes. It isn’t that we made it.”

Ledbetter explained that this play was cast locally and he continues to run into people in area towns that he performed with.

“That’s not always the case with theater. Oftentimes you’re making plays with strangers. Seeing these people around town and having you people walk into the room, it just warms your soul as a theater maker,” Ledbetter said.

Participants shared their own variety of experiences with reading the play. Some listened to audio books and others read one of the hard copy books the library distributed. A total of 75 books were given to Kent residents through the program.

Lynn Worthington
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1 Comment

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    Joseph Dwyer

    March 29, 2024 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks KML for this program and thanks Lynn for this nice report in the KGTD.

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