When I first learned this summer (July 2016) that Tyringham was going to “put on a show,” I was intrigued. When I learned that the production would be Our Town, I was enchanted. An ardent theatre student in high school (many years ago), I had delivered more than one monologue from this, my favorite play by Thornton Wilder, always casting myself as Emily, the main character, of course.
But there was more…
This production wasn’t going to be a traditional “show” but rather a community-based production. Not being familiar with the term, I was sent scurrying to the dictionary, well, to Google, actually. There I learned that community-based theatre is a theatrical performance made in relation to a particular community, “made by, with, and for a community.” (Definition courtesy of Wikipedia—and pretty accurate from what I’ve learned thus far.) What I have also ascertained is that community-based theatre, being intensely collaborative, has the power to bring a community together in ways that are unique. If I understand it correctly, this production may prove to be a learning experience not only enriching us culturally, but perhaps also leading us to a deeper understanding of who we are in relation to one another in our community and in relation to our times. That may sound big, but isn’t it also exciting?
When I first thought about this potential in relation to the play, Our Town, I gasped. We are, here in Tyringham, Our Town, having so much in common with its core, its characters, its values, and closeness to the land.
I am ready now, so many years after my first introduction to this play, to approach it again, but with new eyes, eager for the collaborative adventure that lies ahead for all of us.