The Daily Gamecock

"Our Town" visits Longstreet Theatre

A Pulitzer Prize-winning play is being rehearsed at Longstreet Theatre. Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” will run at Longstreet Theatre from Nov. 14 to Nov. 22.

The play is directed by Steven Pearson, theatre professor and head of the university’s graduate acting program. Pearson also creates the sound design for the production. Students in the play are in the theatre program’s first-year Master of Fine Arts in acting.

“Our Town” explores the lives of people living in the small, fictional town of Grover’s Corner. It specifically focuses on Emily Webb, George Gibbs and their families. Webb and Gibbs grow from young children into adults who fall in love.

At its core, the play has themes that focus on time, community and life in general. It stresses the value of the connections we make with other people.

“It’s a slice of life and it’s about appreciating and living your life in the moment,” said Carin Bendas, an actress that plays the Stage Manager.

As the Stage Manager, Bendas serves as narrator of the play. She interacts with the audience and speaks for almost 45 minutes. Her presence guides the story along and between the key moments.

The play is set in the past, but there are many timeless elements that viewers are meant to relate to.

“We all go through life but this show is trying to take life out and look at it,” said Matthew Cavender, the actor who plays George Gibbs. “It’s about having meaningful interactions.”

The play uses an ensemble cast that doesn’t center on one person but instead centers on the community of the town.

“The main character is really the town as a whole,” Cavender said.

Revolving around the love affair between George and Emily, “Our Town” is able to connect the intimacy of two to the heavy influence of other townspeople.

“The love story is strong for the audience because people want to identify with something,” said Bendas.

The play is specifically written for basically no set or props. The playwright’s notes called for merely tables, chairs and two ladders.

“The way that the show is designed is to put the focus on the ideas that the actors are conveying as opposed to the beauty and the objects,” said Bendas.

After six weeks of practice and putting in around 30 hours a week, the cast is ready for the big premiere. The first show starts Friday at 8 p.m. and student tickets are $12.