Fall play cast begins rehearsals

“Our Town” spotlights naturalistic acting with small-town story

Senior Raphael Sanche performs a line at a Sept. 17 rehearsal for the upcoming fall play, “Our Town”. Early rehearsals, which began this month, have focused on character development, actor movements and line run-throughs.

by Anna Vazhaeparambil, Reporter

Rehearsals have officially begun for the upcoming fall production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” after months of behind-the-scenes planning and preparation.

The play tells the story of the lives of George and Emily, a young couple who grow up, fall in love, marry and face life’s joys and tragedies together in their small town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. Since its first performance in 1938, “Our Town” has gained national recognition, winning a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1938 and being adapted into films, radio broadcasts and even ballets over the course of the last century.

Different from other theatrical productions in the early 1900s, Wilder employs concepts of minimalism and metatheatre, which is when narrators address audience members directly, to demonstrate the value of appreciating a simple yet meaningful life.

“This play is more naturalistic and realistic in the style of acting, and so it’s got a lot more nuance and truth,” director Jeffrey Draper said. “The actors who are coming in with musical theater and comedy energy and farce energy are going to have to bend that to fit it into what looks like modern movie acting and dramatic acting.”

Emmy Huchley (12), who plays the role of Constable Warren, points out the difference in this play’s style compared to the slapstick, over-the-top comedies the performing arts department has typically produced, such as last year’s play, Shakespeare’s “A Comedy of Errors.”

“It’s naturalistic acting, which can be easier because you don’t need to exaggerate your movement and your voice as much as people had to do in [the fall play] last year,” Emmy said. “But at the same time, this play really requires you to be in touch with your emotions, and I think that’s going to be the challenge for all of us.”

This year, 37 students auditioned in the hopes of being selected for one of the play’s 25 roles. Once the play was announced at the Senior Showcase in May, prospective cast members prepared a short monologue over the summer to perform for the director during auditions on Sept. 4 and 5. Actors who made callbacks the next day received scenes from “Our Town” to look over and to perform with other auditionees, and Draper sent out the final cast list through email later that night.

Anna Vazhaeparambil

Early rehearsals have focused on running through lines, developing characters and deciding the blocking, or the actors’ movements, for each scene. Students who are part of the tech crew or are members of the accompanying instrumental ensemble — which will be playing the soundtrack composed by sophomore Anika Fuloria — will soon join the cast to practice with them.

Pullquote Photo

The audience is the protagonist. Their learning about their own life through the play is the point of the whole play. It’s a beautiful story about life.

— Jeffrey Draper, director

“It’s cool to see how good [other cast members] are and learn from them, even though I don’t know them very well,” freshman Arianna Weaver, who plays Lady in a Box, said.

This show will use few props, as Wilder intended. Because of the minimalistic sets, the play will rely on mime and charade to convey actions to the audience.

“This play is about the removal of artifice,” Draper explained. “It’s very, very simple. There’s almost no set. There are lots of props in the play, but none are real: they’re all mimed.”

Draper is considering having a lobby display featuring the hometowns of cast members to add a more personal element to the production.

“What we really want to do is make an impact on the audience, so I’m really excited to just be able to share all the work that we’ve put into it with other people,” Emmy added.

“Our Town” will be the first fall play to be performed in the new RPAC theater; three performances have been scheduled for Oct. 25, 26 and 27.

“The audience is the protagonist,” Draper said. “Their learning about their own life through the play is the point of the whole play. The play’s almost like a mirror. It’s a beautiful story about life.”