Our Town

Stage Manager

Is the Stage Manager like the other characters in the play? If not, how is he different? What is his function?

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The Stage Manager is essential to the sense of human continuity in the play. He exists at once without the play and without; at once inside and outside of its action. To some degree, his role is not new to theater-the ancient Greek chorus, for instance, provides an instance of a link between players and audience at the dawn of acting. However, the extent to which he acknowledges the play's constructedness-even to the point of beginning with a nod to the author-was quite experimental for the time. In his actions, the Stage Manager is a sort of a cross between a representation of the author (Thornton Wilder even played the Stage Manager himself for a stint in the first run of the play) and a plainspoken god figure: he foresees and controls the histories of his characters (and, it is suggested, of all humanity), to the extent of authoring them-he orders them offstage in order to talk to the audience alone, much like an author interposes exits in his manuscript-which both playwright and god in fact do. If he is in some way a god-or at least a representative of God-he is the hands-off sort (much like the townsfolk themselves in this way) letting the pre-ordained course of fate take its path, not intruding except to momentarily freeze the action-without ever altering it-or to provide a deeper look at the events unfolding-without ever changing them.