Maskers Theatre Company
 
OUR TOWN
21 to 25 Oct 2014 - at The Maskers' Studio Theatre
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Our Town

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Through the windows

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Gossips

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Soda Parlour

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Cast and Crew

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Programme

Thorton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama of life in the fictitious village of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, is set in the early 1900s. Although an American classic, it has universal appeal because many of the themes running through it are familiar to people of all generations and nationalities. The play is about everyday life – it’s about life and school and love and baseball and birth and marriage and death and arguments at breakfast.

Synopsis

“No curtain. No scenery. No props” A minimalist theatrical style sets apart the 1938 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. The play is set in the fictitious town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire in the early 1900’s. The sparse and symbolic qualities of the set suggest Wilder’s intention to make Grover’s Corners represent all towns. Two next-door-neighbour families, the Gibbs and the Webbs, are the central characters in the play and it follows their lives between 1901 and 1913. Once again, the families symbolize ordinary people who could be any family. This is why Our Town has achieved such success world-wide as the main themes of life, love and loss are universal to all humans regardless of race and culture.
Unconventional meta-theatrical devices are utilized with a Stage Manager who breaks the fourth wall by directly addressing the audience as well as assuming control over the onstage action such as prompting actors and cueing scene changes.
Most critics agree that the play is a microcosm of the life cycle. Act 1 is called “The Daily Life” and begins with the news of a birth. It depicts a typical day in Grover’s corners with arguments at breakfast, getting children ready for school in time, housework, homework, husbands not listening to their wives, wives gossiping to their friends about how their husbands don’t listen……just an ordinary day.
Act II explores Love, and begins with preparations for a wedding. Although weddings are exciting and joyous events, they are also associated with fears and doubts and feelings of loss which Wilder depicts so beautifully.
Act III, focuses on the end of the life cycle and features a funeral. The theme of loss is prevalent but Wilder does not focus on the loss of the living but of the loss of the dead – what is ahead after death and what does it mean to have been alive?
As for who gets married and who dies ……. You’ll need to come and find out!

Reviews

"One of the best Maskers has ever done. You don't need fancy scenery and props when you've got really good actors. John Souter was riveting. I thoroughly enjoyed it." - an audience member.

Venue
The Author

Thornton Wilder was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1897; the second of five children. His father was a diplomat and Wilder spent his childhood travelling back and forth from the Far East. Both Wilder’s parents were passionate about literature, drama, and languages and instilled these passions into their children.
In 1915 Wilder graduated from high school in California. He graduated from Yale University in 1920 after serving in the Coast Artillery Corps during World War I. It was during his time at Yale University that he wrote his first full length play The Trumpet Shall Sound although this was not first produced until 1926.
Wilder received his final master’s degree in French Literature from Princeton University in 1926. He went on to teach French at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, lecture on comparative literature at the University of Chicago, serve as a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii and teach poetry at Harvard University. Wilder always considered himself to be a teacher first and foremost even after he’d achieved success as a writer.
His breakthrough novel was The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927) which examines the fate of five travellers who fall to their deaths from a bridge in 18th-century Peru. The book earned Wilder his first Pulitzer Prize. It has been dramatised for film several times, most recently in 2004.
Our Town earned Wilder his second Pulitzer, making him the only American author to win Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and drama. When the play was first produced on Broadway, Wilder took on the role of Stage Manager himself for two weeks.
Wilder served again in World War II and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force. After his discharge he completed his novel The Ides of March (1948), an historical novel about Julius Caesar, one of his most experimental works. This was followed by the play The Skin of Our Teeth (1943) which earned Wilder his third Pulitzer.
In 1954, Wilder revised one of his earlier plays The Merchant of Yonkers (1938) which had originally been unsuccessful. The result was The Matchmaker which was adapted for film in 1958 and then made into the Broadway musical Hello Dolly (1964) which won 10 Tony awards.
In addition to his Tony and Pulitzer awards, Wilder received numerous literary awards for his works, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Fiction (1952), the National Medal for Literature (1962), The Presidential Medal of Freedom (1963) and the National Book Committee’s Book Award (1965). His last two novels were The Eighth Day (1967) and Theophilus North which is considered to be largely autobiographical.
Thornton Wilder died in 1975, aged 78

The Director

Joanna Iacovou - Joanna has been a member of Masker’s Theatre Company since 2003. During this time she has appeared in several plays, her favourite roles having been Ruby Birtle in J. B. Priestley’s When we are Married and Rita in Willy Russell’s Educating Rita. More recently she appeared as Mrs Frank in Southampton University Players production of Anne Frank.
Joanna had her directorial debut in 2013 with Forward to the Right, a one-act play by Lily Ann Green which was taken to the Hanger Farm Arts Festival. This is her first full length play. She has found the change from a cast of two to a cast of fourteen quite a challenge!

Cast

Stage Manager is played by John Souter. John is taking the part of Stage Manager; John has acted with the Maskers for many years in Nuffield Theatre and outdoor productions, but this is only his second appearance in the Studio where he will be eyeball to eyeball with his audience!

Doc Gibbs is played by Jonathan Shepherd. This is Jonathan’s third Maskers’ production, having appeared in Pride and Prejudice and Anne Boleyn. Both of those were outdoor productions whereas this is his first opportunity to perform in the Maskers studio. Jonathan has also performed at the Nuffield Theatre with Southampton University Players, appearing in a range of plays. He had the chance to ‘warm up’ his American accent this summer playing George Wilson in The Great Gatsby.

Mrs Gibbs is played by Georgette Ellison. This is to be the first Maskers’ performance for Georgette. She has really enjoyed the rehearsal process and the welcome she has received from everyone
at Maskers.
Georgette really enjoys performing in spaces like the Maskers’ studio theatre. She performed here a year or so ago for one night, so is excited to doing a full run of Our Town.

George Gibbs is played by Christopher Gardener. This is Christopher’s first performance with Maskers. He has found the rehearsal process immensely enjoyable and is delighted to be working with such experienced and professional performers. Though the slightly foolish romantic teen is not a role he is used to, he has really got to know George Gibbs, whose outwardly immature gawkiness disguises a great innocence and love.

Rebecca Gibbs is played by Molly McDade. This is Molly’s debut performance for the Maskers but she has had experience performing previously in several Nuffield Youth Theatre productions, such as The Pilgrimage, Cymbeline and Feathers In The Snow. Being an only child, she based her performance of Rebecca on her friends who have siblings who bicker constantly - although this is her first time attempting an American accent!

Mr Webb is played by Carl Browning. This is Carl’s first show back in the studio since the Not the Maskers Christmas Show and this is a little more traditional than that. Although previously unfamiliar with Our Town he has enjoyed being a part of this wonderful and interesting piece of theatre, and hopes the audience have as much fun as we have had making it.

Mrs Webb is played by Kate Grundy. Being a mother of three children, Kate can relate to Mrs Webb and all the trials and tribulations of being a busy mum, albeit in a different century. Kate has been a Masker for over 20 years and more recently played Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the evil prison warden in Chair. I’m delighted to be a part of this wonderful play and I get to be mum to Wally, my real daughter, Millie.

Emily Webb is played by Katherine Evans. Our Town is Katherine's second play with the Maskers, following playing Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest in July. She is also regularly involved on the local musical and operatic scene, most recently directing and performing in Pocket Theatre's production of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.  She has just started a part-time Classics degree at Reading University which gives her space to pursue her interests in music and drama alongside her studies.

Wally Webb is played by Millie Grundy. Millie loves playing the role of little Wally Webb even if she does get to be bossed about by her real life mum Kate (Mrs Webb). This is Millie's second show with the Maskers. In her first show, she played the mini evil Captain Flint in Treasure Island as well as playing Henry the VIII in her school production of Henry and his Wives. She hopes to continue to be a part of more shows in the future.

Joe Crowell/Si Crowell is played by William Carrington. William has been a Masker all his life and has been in The Wind in the Willows as well as There’s Gold in Them There Hills. This is his first speaking part, however, and he is very much looking forward to it. Will is enjoying playing two brothers and finding it a bit of a challenge too!

Simon Stimson/Howie Newsome is played by William Baggs. William is looking forward to returning to the Maskers’ Studio having started there in 2012 with Can You Hear The Music. Subsequent roles have included Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream, James I in Anne Boleyn and Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest. He is looking forward to the challenges of not only playing two parts but also his first attempt at an American accent.

Mrs Soames/ Professor Willard is played by Marie McDade. Marie is playing both an eccentric Professor and the town gossip. Since joining Maskers two years ago Marie has played a demented secretary, committed suicide, been a gormless Fairy, an alcoholic swinger and a tart-with-a-heart – quite a range, but all batty!

Officer Warren/Joe Stoddard is played by Bruce Atkinson. Bruce has been a Masker for about 35 years and enjoys performing in the open air shows, firstly at Mottisfont and latterly at Hamptworth Lodge. This is his first Studio show for a while but he always enjoys the intimate atmosphere and the proximity to the audience.

Sam Craig is played by Donna Beddall.This is Donna's second play with the Maskers after performing as Anne’s Lady in Waiting in 2013's scorching summer open-air show Anne Boleyn. Other roles include playing Abigail WIlliams in Arthur Miller’s timeless classic The Crucible 'for her Performing Arts degree. After a short break, Donna is looking forward to the challenge of Our Town and bringing Sam(antha) Craig's character to light in a thought provoking final act!

Mr Carter is played by Adam Taussik. Adam is playing Mr Carter, who died of diphtheria in 1896 (shortly after George, the footman he played in The Importance of Being Earnest, found love in the English countryside). Adam has been in Maskers over 10 years, and played everything from the King of England to that lowly footman. When not in livery, he has another life in Student Services at the University of Southampton.

Extra and stage-hand is played by Robert Osborne. Rob has been a Masker for over three years both onstage and backstage. Our Town is his fifth Maskers’ show this year and third in an acting role after Sitting Pretty and Proof. He is pleased to be playing an American again and looks forward to the challenge of playing The Dead. 

   
Crew
Production Manager :
 Meri Mackney
Assistant Production Manager :
 Hannah Swieton
Stage Manager :
 Kathryn Salmon
Set Design :
 Adam Taussik
Art Work :
 Pete Burrows
Lighting Designer :
 David Cowley
Lighting Operator :
 David Cowley & Kathryn Salmon
Sound Designer :
 Mike Matthias
Sound Operator :
 Mike Matthias
Costumes :
 Gail Blues & Susan Wilson
Properties :
 Adam Taussik
Chaperones :
 Clare Groome & Elizabeth Harden
Original Music :
 Pete Burrows
Production Marketing :
 Ruth Kibble & team
Lighting Consultant :
 Clive Weeks
For the company
Technical Manager:- Jamie McCarthy;   Marketing Director:- Sarah Russell;   Marketing Team:- Angela Stansbridge, Ruth Kibble, Leah Barlow, James Norton, Clive Weeks, Greg Parr, Zannah Lawther;   Front of House Manager:- Chris Baker;   Front of House Display:- Hannah Swieton, Leah Barlow;   Box Office Manager:- Chris Baker;   Photography:- Clive Weeks;   Bar Manager:- Jan Spiers