“Do any human beings realize life while they live it?” is one of the many life-pondering questions asked in Thorton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama, “Our Town.” T.C. Williams’ Drama Department will perform this play Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Premiering on Broadway in 1938, the show explores the tight knit town of Grover’s Corner, N.H. at the turn of the twentieth century. Life is examined at its best and worst moments as the play follows Emily Webb and George Gibbs' journey through time. From growing up together to falling in love and marrying, Wilder emphasizes that it is often the simplest and overlooked parts of life that are the most meaningful. Along with a slew of other characters and constant narration by the stage manager, the show easily brings the audience along on a ride through life.
Last year, many students who were consistently involved in T.C. productions graduated, and those left wondered what was in store for this year’s production.
“This year is a rebuilding year,” said executive director and drama teacher Hope Bachman. “A lot of our regulars graduated and now we have new regulars. We all have to get used to each other.”
Student Director Taekia Blackwell, a senior, felt despite this, auditions were reassuring.
“Casting was difficult, but interesting,” Blackwell said. “The drama department lost a lot of its talent pool last year, but it was nice to see new talent pop up at auditions. We have two freshmen in the play — more than any previous show.”
With experienced actors and raw talent, the cast has a good mix of people and everyone is learning from each other.
“There are a lot of good, talented people,” senior Rhiannon Knol said. “Everyone is getting along pretty well. The [students who play the] couples get along well and they’re hilarious.”
Bachman agreed that the cast’s chemistry is “developing” and “some actors have really strong bonds.” However, memorizing lines is always a tricky part in any show.
“Things are coming along,” Bachman said. “Lines are, for some of our actors, a little shaky, but overall everyone has a fairly good handle of what their characters are like.”
Knol enjoys her role as Ms. Soams, a particularly disruptive woman at a wedding, because she does not have many lines. Senior Rachel Arriaga, on the other hand, loves her role as the stage manager, who acts as the narrator, because of her power in the play.
“I basically play God,” she said, referring to how her role has no boundaries — she dictates the lives of the people in Grover’s Corner while going back and forth between genders. However, “being God” requires a lot of work, and in Arriaga’s case, a lot of memorizing.
“Something I find very challenging is that 70 percent of my lines are four-page monologues,” she said. “I have so many lines [that] I have an inner-inner-inner dialogue.”
APART FROM REMEMBERING LINES, another challenging part of the show is the minimalist set and lack of props Wilder incorporated into the play.
“It’s a very challenging show because unlike [previous T.C.] shows, 95 percent of our props are pantomimed,” Arriaga said.
Bachman agreed performing a show without set or props was the biggest challenge in this play. Actors must rely on each other, sound effects and lighting to display the scenes before them, but when executed well, the audience will completely forget how much of the show is merely make-believe.
“Our Town” is a difficult play to handle, but the cast is committed and is getting as much rehearsal in as possible before show time.
“We practice after school nearly every day until 5:30 p.m.,” Blackwell said. “Luckily, the schedule doesn’t get too hectic until ‘Hell Week,’” the week before the performances when everyone involved in the production stays at school rehearsing until 10:30 p.m. or later.
Despite all of the time and hard work the cast has dedicated to the show, everyone still makes time to enjoy themselves.
“We have a really great group of people,” senior and Stage Manager Amy Milyko said. “Everyone has a good sense of humor and it makes rehearsals a lot of fun and helps the cast work together.”
With this much practice and joint effort put into the performance, T.C.’s “Our Town” is sure to be a hit.
“I think it’s going very smoothly,” Bachman said. “It’ll be interesting to see where everything is once the acts are in order.”
Blackwell is also confident in the cast and is excited for opening night.
“The play is going very well,” Blackwell said. “The cast is tackling it with much excitement; everyone is working hard and very well together. It should be a really great show.”
After “Our Town’s” finale, T.C. will begin working on its Cappies show, which will be performed Apr. 14, 2007. However, what musical it will be is still being decided on.