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Pulitzer-winning ‘Our Town’ to open on campus


“Our Town” is an unintentional tribute to the late Edward Albee, says director of School of Theatre & Dance Robert Shimko. | Courtesy of the School of Theatre and Dance

This October, the School of Theatre and Dance will present a classic play at UH’s Wortham Theatre.

“What makes (“Our Town”) a classic is it speaks to humanity in a very direct way,” said Philip Hays, a UH alumni and the play’s guest director.

Although written almost 80 years ago, the 1938 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama, “Our Town,” is still popular for its timeless, universal themes.

“All the little details of your life should be just as important as all the other things we put on stage,” Hays said. “It gives you a chance to look at them without having to worry about them, without having to be stuck inside your life. You can see life as a piece of art, as a beautiful thing.”

Written by Thornton Wilder, “Our Town” is set in a fictional U.S. town called Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire between 1901 and 1913. The play follows the Webb and Gibbs households and featured a narrator, the Stage Manager, who guided audience members through the story.

Hays said the play will have no props or sets. Performers will often mime objects instead of using real ones.

“For people who don’t know the play in particular, the first image is, ‘Where is all the stuff that’s usually in a theater?'” Hays said. “But hopefully as we paint the picture for them, their imagination starts to work, they can see the town and the people in it.”

The cast of “Our Town” is made up of students from the School of Theatre and Dance, ranging from freshmen to second-year graduate students.

“This has been a show that has impacted me greatly while working on it,” said second-year graduate Laura Menzie, who portrays Emily Webb in the show.

The play has provided the student performers with professional experience and emotional realization.

“(My family lives) in New York and working on this show has given me a greater awareness of how much they’ve shaped me into the person I am today,” Menzie said. “Being able to walk in Emily’s shoes had made me even more grateful for them.”

English sophomore Glorie Martinez expressed great interest in the play.

“I’ve read ‘Our Town’ before in high school and read it again in my current class,” Martinez said. “Reading it is nice, but it’s kind of detached, so I’d like to see how it’s brought to life and made to mean something.”

Robert Shimko, director of the School of Theatre and Dance, said the play gained new meaning by, unintentionally, being a tribute for Edward Albee, the Pulitzer-winning playwright who died two weeks ago.

“I think that it is remarkable that we are producing ‘Our Town’ at UH right now, not least because it was the favorite American play of Edward Albee,” Shimko said.

“Our Town” will be at UH’s Wortham Theatre Oct. 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 9 and 16 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online.

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