Our Town [Proposal]
While dated in period, this piece offers us a snapshot of a town at the edge of progression, a great war about to be fought, and one full of humorous gossip. All things in which we can relate to today. Our Town is about what it means to deal with happiness, life choices, love, time, living, parenting, and grief; more importantly what it means to deal with these topics together. Our Town reminds us what it means to be a community. I think right now, more than ever, we need that reminder as we are seeing our fellow members of society face social injustice through innocent killings and the denial of basic rights. It's a simple show about our humanity and how we can cohabitate in a world that continues to change in both technology and ideals. This could be an exciting opportunity to breathe new life into a classic work and make people think about it in a new way. What's brilliant about Our Town is that eventually the audience can feel as if they've been members of this town all their lives if done right.
Such as many directors break the convention and approach Shakespeare works in a contemporary manner, I too want to approach Our Town as such. Traditionally the show is produced with an all caucasian cast, which doesn't seem right to me. Grover's Corners is a fictional town, the members can be anyone of any different background. Furthermore, I believe Our Town is meant to reflect the town in which its produced and therefore I want to cast a racially diverse ensemble. The purpose of a diverse casting and addition of a same-sex couple is to parallel this town to our own, that of Chicago. I don't want another standard all Caucasian production. I want one that is real, that is relevant, that is our town.
Using a racially and culturally diverse body of actors, I hope to parallel the still relevant themes of this classic work to today's society. An ensemble of 10, denoted by costume and prop pieces, will bring to life this town. In contemporary dress, they will interact with only necessary props, 4 chairs, and 2 tables to bring this world to life. For example, the baseball players would wear baseball caps or Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Webb would both wear the same apron but in different ways. Elements of lighting and contemporary sound will help to cohesively create the atmosphere of the town to allow for smooth transitions and the heightening of the atmosphere and emotions of the scene. The contemporary and minimal touches will enhance and not detract from the story and text being told, such as one does with Shakespeare.
Ideally, I imagine the play taking place in the round or thrust, allowing for a continuously moving piece that reflects the progression of the town. Having multiple entrance points allows for fluid transitions and continual action. For the final act, I would utilize a bare stage and would place a member of the graveyard scene in each side of the audience using the audience the setting rather than traditionally setting chairs on the stage because by this point we all have become the members of the town.
The character tracking is as follows:
Stage Manager/Choir/Baseball Player 3/Lizzie- Male or Female Early/Mid 20s
Emily Webb/Woman in Balcony- Female early 20s
George Gibbs/Man in Auditorium- Male early 20s
Dr. Gibbs/Professor Willard/Const. Warren- Male 30s
Mrs. Gibbs/Choir/Miss Corocan- Female 30s
Mr. Webb/Sam Craig- Female or Male 30s [Same-Sex as Mrs. Webb]
Mrs. Webb/Artistic Lady in box/Joe Stoddard- Female or Male 30s [Same-Sex as Mr. Webb]
Joe Crowell/Wally/Bob/Baseball Player 1- Male 20s
Stimson/Howie/Baseball Player 2- Male 20s
Rebecca/Choir/Mrs. Soames/Si Crowell- Female 20s
Style of Direction.
My style of direction reflects the creation of a life based on my belief that every play is a living entity.
The Skeleton- I bring in a foundation for the actors to start with. I come to the first rehearsal with the entire show staged (knowing it will change once I bring the minds of the actors into the mix), the groundwork for character motivation, and the structural elements written out. There are many times where I leave moments to organic creation because they need to be. My staging is derived from motivation of characters, so I’m not just creating stage pictures, but moments with intention.
The Muscle- Next I delve deeper into the piece. We begin working from beat to beat, crafting the journey of the characters and their objectives. Its a very technical and tedious phase. I work a lot with actors on the relationships between one another and their intentions.
The Organs- This is the part where we start to breathe more life into the piece. We start to let go and trust the work we’ve put in by responding in the moment. This is also the time in which we start crafting the arc of the show, how it ebbs and flows from beginning to end as a whole.
The Skin- The final stage is where we polish and tweak the piece. We add the final elements, such as costumes and tech. We finally get to live in the world of the play.