The Winchendon School’s production of Our Town: A Play in Three Acts runs from November 2nd – November 3rd.
“No curtain. No scenery. The audience, arriving, sees an empty stage in half-light…… As the house lights go down he has finished setting the stage and leaning against the right proscenium pillar ‘watches the late arrivals in the audience. When the auditorium is in complete darkness he speaks:” – Thorton Wilder
Our Town: A Play in Three Acts, first produced in 1938 and written by Thorton Wilder, is set just up the road from The Winchendon School in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. Written while Wilder was at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, it is often believed that Peterborough (or Dublin, NH according to some sources) is the setting for fictional Grover’s Corners. What we do know for sure, is this classic, outwardly simple metatheatrical play, could possibly be the most performed play in American high schools. We’re excited everytime our students perform on stage, but we might be especially excited about this production of Our Town (November 2 – 3) as we can see Mount Monadnock from our campus and our students arrive here every day from the towns of Jaffrey, Peterborough, and Dublin (all real towns mentioned in the play).
Deceptively simple in set and design, the Stage Manager plays the role of the audience’s guide throughout the play. It is the Stage Manager who narrates the story of the small New Hampshire town, ordinary in every way. The play itself however, and the role of theater in education are not ordinary.
We found significant benefits in the form of knowledge, future cultural consumption, tolerance, historical empathy, and critical thinking for students assigned by lottery to visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (see “The Educational Value of Field Trips,” research, Winter 2014). In the current study, we examine the impact of assigning student groups by lottery to see high-quality theater productions of Hamlet or A Christmas Carol. This is the first randomized experiment to discover what students get out of seeing live theater. Our results are generally similar to those found in the previous study. Culturally enriching field trips have significant educational benefits for students whether they are to see an art museum or live theater. Among students assigned by lottery to see live theater, we find enhanced knowledge of the plot and vocabulary in those plays, greater tolerance, and improved ability to read the emotions of others. – Jay P. Greene, Collin Hitt, Anne Kraybill and Cari A. Bogulski
Come join us as we settle into discovering an ordinary life. And we’re pretty sure if you squint from the top of the Ford parking lot, you can see Grover’s Corners.