“Our Town” is a special place. Clarke County High School theater instructor Christine Brewer has chosen the Thorton Wilder stage classic as this fall’s high school drama department production, in part, to honor small town life here in Clarke County, Virginia. That’s why prior to the play’s November performance Brewer is asking the community, both young and old, to focus their imaginations and cameras on creating that one special photograph that best captures our own small town of Berryville, Virginia.
“The photos should show the character and life of the town” Brewer said. “The focus should be on things like the buildings and architecture, the fairgrounds. We’d like to have photos that capture the general feeling of what it means to live in Berryville.”
Photos submitted for the competition will be exhibited in the Johnson Williams Middle school lobby prior to the performance of “Our Town” and will be judged by a panel of school staff and members of the local arts community.
Brewer selected “Our Town” because she wanted a challenging play that would be simple to produce but also involve a lot of students.
“It’s difficult to find a non-musical production that requires a large cast” Brewer said while eating lunch at the desk of her classroom earlier this week. “”I want to involve as many kids as possible in the performance.”
“Our Town” will be performed entirely by 28 sixth through twelfth grade student actors with the exception of cameo appearances by three Clarke County Public School administrators, Superintendent Michael Murphy, CCHS Principal John Werner and community theater director extraordinaire Andy Kiser.
“Our Town” is a three-act play by American playwright, Thorton Wilder. The story is about an average town’s citizens in the early twentieth century as depicted through their everyday lives. The three acts depict “daily life”, “love and marriage” and “death and eternity”. Wilder uses the actions of the Stage Manager to visually create the small town of Grover’s Corners for the audience.
Brewer describes “Our Town” as an unconventional work because Wilder intended it to be performed with very little scenery.
“Wilder wanted the message of the play to be front and center,” Brewer explained.
In CCHS’s upcoming performance, student Julia Shaffer will play the Stage Manager, a god-like character who knows the future and guides the audience through the play, taking questions from the audience. The Stage Manager describes the play’s locations because of the sparse scenery and makes key observations about the world the play creates.
“Our Town” tells the story of George Gibbs and Emily Webb, whose unspoken mutual affection as children blossoms into love, marriage, and death.
Brewer, who teaches two theater classes at CCHS, said that her department has historically produced a spring musical and an end-of-the-year one act play festival in May that serves as the student’s final exam. Brewer is hoping that a successful performance of “Our Town” will lead to the regular addition of a fall play in the school’s annual theatre production line-up.
Brewer, who also teaches Spanish, has been involved in theatre since college. “I’ve done everything that there is to do in theatre from directing the shows to cleaning the bathrooms,” Brewer laughed. She has been a teacher at CCHS since 2004 and taught for ten years in South Carolina before moving the Clarke County area.
“Our Town” is considered to be Wilder’s crowning work and Brewer thinks that people in Clarke County will identify with his portrayals of small time life.
“I like Wilder’s message in the play about the importance found in the simple things and details of life,” Brewer said. “It reminds us to appreciate every moment of every day because they are lost all too quickly.”
“Our Town” will be performed November 19th and 20th at 7;00 pm with a Sunday November 20th performance at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for students with CCPS employees admitted free of charge.
Photo submissions of Berryville are encouraged from anyone interested in participating in the competition. Contact Christine Brewer for more information at 540.955.6130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.