The Great American Play Essay

695 words - 3 pages

Thornton Niven Wilder was born on April 17, 1897 in Madison, Wisconsin to Amos Parker Wilder and Isabella Niven Wilder. The Wilder children grew to see success. Amos Wilder, Thornton’s older brother, became a Hollis Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School, an American poet, a founder in the field of theopoetics, as well as a nationally ranked tennis player. Charlotte Wilder made her success as an American poet. Janet Wilder Dakin, the youngest sibling of Thornton, received a Ph.D. in zoology and became a zoologist as well as a philanthropist. Thornton was noted at an early age for his intelligence and was unfortunately teased during his childhood. He would seek sanctuary in his ...view middle of the document...

The play was first performed at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey on January 22, 1938. The play moved to Broadway and its high popularity causes it to be frequently revived. Wilder wrote this play in response to his dissatisfaction with the theatre of his time. He “felt that something had gone wrong….I began to feel that the theatre was not only inadequate, it was evasive.” He believed that human claim, hope, despair were manifested in the mind, not through things or “scenery”. For this reason, Thornton composed the play with a “metatheatrical” style. In other words, he formed the play to commentate upon itself, “drawing attention to the literal circumstances of its own production, such as the presence of the audience or the fact that the actors are actors, and the making explicit of the literary artifice behind the production”. Our Town took a new approach to theatrical production by limiting scenery and props, omitting the use of a set, and forcing characters to mime objects with which they interact. The lack of spectacle was enforced to thrust the...

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