Our Town is coming to our town this summer.
Thornton Wilder’s ‘meta-theatrical’ classic – exploring life, love and community – will be the inaugural presentation for Peninsula Productions’ newly-revamped ‘black box’ theatre space in White Rock’s Centennial Park, Aug. 9 to 24.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning 1938 drama tells the story of the fictional American small town of Grover’s Corners between the years 1901 and 1913 from the viewpoint of its citizens.
Through the humour and storytelling ability of Wilder, seemingly commonplace events soon build into a meditation on the very nature of what it means to be alive.
But, as director Rebecca Walters (also Peninsula associate artistic director) relates, although the show is about Grover’s Corners, it is actually set in the theatre in which it takes place – with a stage manager who directly addresses the audience and fills in some roles, and actors who play multiple roles with minimal props on a mostly bare stage.
It’s an ideal first show for the reworked Peninsula space, which lends itself to flexible and experimental productions that emphasize imaginative acting and stagecraft over traditional proscenium arch presentation.
“It starts with an empty stage,” Walters says in the press release for Our Town, “and the stage manager welcoming us and introducing us to the town.
“A few chairs, a couple of ladders, and eight very talented actors, each playing a number of roles, bring this story to life – it’s pretty magical.”
Helping create that magic in the upcoming production will be cast members Colleen Byberg, Hailey Conner, Ryan Kniel, Damion LeClair, Michelle Morris, David Underhill, Katie Voravong, and Elliot Wesley.
Walters says that even today – more than 80 years after its debut in a Princeton, New Jersey theatre – Our Town retains all of its power to engage an audience with universal truths of human experience.
“It’s such a wonderful script,” she says. “It’s funny, and clever, and incredibly moving.
The Peninsula Productions theatre is located in the park (14600 North Bluff Rd.) next to Centennial Arena. Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays.
Tickets can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com