Our Town

Our town act 1

what is the effect of minimal sets and props and unconventional interactions between the stage manager, the actors on stage, and the audience, including the posed members in the audience? For example, the title of the play is Our Town, rather than Grover's Corner. 

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The most remarkable thing about Our Town is how unremarkable its events are. There is no scenery, no props or costumes to ground the action in a real time or place-Grover's Corners might be anywhere, in any state of the Union. The Stage Manager tells us the day is May 7, 1901, but that doesn't matter much -national events are hardly mentioned (aside from the paperboy's coming death in World War I), technological advances have no bearing on the characters, and the only connection to real historical figures is an aside that "[William Jennings] Bryan once spoke there."

Yet this impression of complete unspecificity of time and place comes with an almost comical reverence for its factual specificity. The play is obsessed with statistics. We are told the latitude and longitude of Grover's Corners to the minute; a professor is introduced to inform the audience about the geological makeup of the area and several versions of the official population. The Stage Manager points out various features of the landscape and the town, gesturing at the bare walls. Yet this specificity serves, paradoxically, to further highlight the anonymity of Grover's Corners. There is no personality in numbers, however factual they are presented to be. Grover's Corners is thus a town concocted completely without a distinct cultural identity-it is bland to the point of (literal) invisibility, consisting only in human clichés and bare statistics, each equally barren of human color. Wilder purposefully de-personalizes the citizens of Grover's Corners in order to present them as blank slates.