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Thornton Wilder / Our Town Introduction
Transcript of Thornton Wilder / Our Town Introduction
was written in 1938
What is drama?
A story enacted onstage
for a live audience.
Origins: 5th-Century B.C.
Performed at festivals honoring the God Dionysus
Drama comes from the Greek word dran ("to do / act")
Born in Madison, Wisconsin; father was a newspaper owner & editor and mother a poet
In 1906, moved to Hong Kong and later to Shanghai
Studied Greek and Roman classics
Served in coast artillery during WWI
Received degree from Yale in 1920; began writing and teaching after that
Wrote five plays, numerous short plays, seven novels and Alfred Hitchcock screenplay
Remembered for his bold theatrical experimentation, his faith, optimism and fondness for humanity
Wilder was famous for his sociability
Wilder’s later plays are darker in tone. His oldest sister Charlotte, a poet, was institutionalized for mental illness in 1941, and his mother died in 1946. To his friends, Wilder murmured that his own life had been a failure.
Wilder died on December 7, 1975 in Hamden, Connecticut, where he had lived off and on for many years with his devoted sister, Isabel, his secretary, business manager and literary adviser.
Considered experimental in the 1930s.
Takes place in Grover's Corner, a fictional town in New Hampshire from 1901 to 1913
The play's initial performances in January 1938 New Jersey and Boston met with negative reviews. But it opened in New York to rave reviews and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Follows the age-old cycle of birth, love and death.
Creates a model of life that includes both joy and tragedy.
Uses few props, no scenery and shifts in chronology.
Has narrator who addresses the audience directly.
Breaking the Fourth Wall:
When a character in a play addresses the audience directly and interacts with them. (Different than a soliloquy or monologue)
Directions written by the playwright to help the actors and directors move on stage and understand their characters. (They are never spoken during an actual performance.)
Words spoken by the characters aloud.
By Thornton Wilder