Our School, Our Town (Part 2)


By Caroline Chu

Remember how I said I bet you all know someone with a connection to Our Town? Well, you do! I asked the faculty about their experiences with the show, and these are the responses I received:


Mr. Graf, US Director:

“I was awarded a fellowship at MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH and spent three weeks there back in 1999. This is the town on which Thornton Wilder based the play and I identify closely with the town, the scope of time, and their unique sense of community. Alas, I never performed in the play, but I have taught it (elsewhere) and I do feel this deep connection because of my time there.

Having grown up in a small New Hampshire town, I had idealized Thornton Wilder, MacDowell and Peterborough. I did approach my teaching of the play differently  in that I had hoped to create the “feel” of a small town (kind of like an independent school) where we know each other’s stories (and business, to some degree) but also hold each other’s promises. There’s something about the depth of connections in a small town, a boarding school, an island community that I find comforting. You have to be willing to be known, in essence.”

Mr. Schneider, US Drama:

“My freshman year at Lab, I took acting, basically because there was a girl I liked in the class. I went to auditions for the fall play, Our Town, intending to just do tech. But the drama teacher made me audition, and I wound up with the part of Howie Newsome. Interestingly, one of my fellow freshmen got the stage manager role. I had such an amazing time that I auditioned for every show after that. The joy and camaraderie of that cast made me want to make theatre my life. Well, that and the fact that I really loved that horse, Bessie.”

Ms. Steenveld-Hamilton, MS Drama:

“In the fall of my sophomore year at Good Counsel High School, I was cast as Dead Woman #2 in Our Town. It was one of the most incredible productions that I was ever to be a part of.

In addition, Scott Foresman and Company contacted my director. They wanted to photograph our production and use the photos in a new literature book they were developing for high schools to use. What an honor! I still have the book that we were all given. There are many photos documenting what we achieved that fall.

I added Our Town to the 8th grade Art Cycle curriculum three years ago. Each year we discuss the incredible relevance and timelessness of the issues in a play that was written 76 years ago. The students discuss how people still have the same cares and fears as people did so long ago.

I think that the biggest reason that I want to continue to teach it is so that the students are reminded that they too need to stop every once and a while and just “realize life.” As Emily reminds us in a monologue, “Oh Earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you!” I want to encourage my students to slow down and appreciate the wonderful life they have, and look forward to their awesome future, too.”

Ms. Shelley Greenwood, Interim LS Director, Asst. Head of School:

“Many years ago when I was teaching at Wayland Academy, I also served as the director of their drama program. I have memories from many productions, but Our Town stands out as one of my favorites. I had a very talented ensemble that year with students who were very dedicated to theater. Our Town’s universal themes remain timeless. I am really looking forward to Latin’s production.

This week marks [me and my husband’s] twenty-second wedding anniversary. When it came time to select passages for the ceremony, Our Town came immediately to mind. One of our close friends read the stage manager’s opening monologue about marriage just before we took our vows. Family and friends still remember it years later.”

Ms. Nabers, 7th grade English:

“Well, funny you should ask. My high school did put on the play my sophomore year. I was on stage crew/publicity; I knew how to do calligraphy, and I designed the poster. Most importantly, my major high school crush, a guy named Chris, was the narrator. We went to the Homecoming Dance together, so I guess I didn’t completely strike out with him. Because my best friend Kelly is the most amazing person ever, she dug up the photo of the cast. My crush is there in the middle—not bad for the 80s, right? I am not in the photo since I was just a backstage minion.” (See immediately below for photo).

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    [caption id="attachment_4315" align="alignnone" width="300"]Taken from yearbook archives. Pictured: Bill Buralli, Latin faculty member Taken from yearbook archives. Pictured: Bill Buralli, Latin faculty member[/caption]     [caption id="attachment_4316" align="alignnone" width="300"]Also taken from yearbook archives. Pictured: faculty members Nick Baer, Bill Buralli, and Brian Hennelly Also taken from yearbook archives. Pictured: faculty members Nick Baer, Bill Buralli, and Brian Hennelly[/caption]      ]]>