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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

‘Our Town’ puts everyday life on display


Small town life is artfully projected in “Our Town,” the most recognizable play by American playwright Thornton Wilder. 

The struggles and rewards of the play’s seemingly ordinary characters will be on display this weekend as Shelton State Community College’s theatre department puts on a production of the classic story.

“Our Town” tells the story of a relationship between two characters, George Gibbs and Emily Webb, within the fictional small town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. The play is unconventional in that its main character is the Stage Manager, a narrator who breaks theatre’s imaginary fourth wall, often directly interacting with the audience as well as the other characters. 

“On a larger scale, it is an examination of the ties that bind a small community together,” said Michael Carr, the play’s director and the theatre coordinator at Shelton State Community College. “Through the words and actions of the Stage Manager, he then takes the moments of everyday life and looks at them through a larger lens, the lens of time and the lens of history.”

Patrick McCaffrey, a sophomore studying at Shelton State, portrays George in the show. In Act I of the play, life carries on unremarkably as the milkman makes his deliveries and George and Emily, still children, skip off to school.

“George differs from me in a few ways, mostly in his interactions,” McCaffrey said. “He can be a bit awkward here and there, and although he is genuine, he also can have ulterior motives, such as when he is talking to Emily, who he does grow attracted to, but at first, he is just trying to get help for his homework.”

Throughout the course of the show, the plot gently thickens as characters grow and change. The Stage Manager leads the audience through both life and death. While the original “Our Town” script paints a picture of early 20th century life, the Shelton State production will take a slightly different approach. 

“I do believe that there are many things in this play that happen in this play that I have not been exposed to,” McCaffrey said. “These things include weddings and funerals happening, pretty much happening within an hour’s time, having to go between those emotions and feeling what the characters’ drives and motivations are. We are working in a blurred line and it is most definitely a turn of the century, but we try to have a modernist approach – such as some of us having tattoos, and myself having long hair and earrings.” 

Kaitlyn Day, a freshman majoring in theatre at Shelton State, plays Emily, a character at the center of much emotion and drama. 

“You basically see her whole life go by, falling in love and, eventually, her death, and you really get to see her grow and affect the people around her,” Day said. “I think the special part of the show is that you can relate to every character, but really for her, she goes into some pretty deep moments in this play that I had not really thought of before, so much so that you will probably see me cry on stage.”

The play’s title might suggest mundanity, but the cast hopes to create as much animation as possible within the small town story. 

“This is a skillful group of actors, and also the play is written in such a way that everybody can identify with many moments, whether you are young, old, or in between,” Carr said.  “We have tried hard to make it as inclusive a show as possible, with characters coming in from the aisles, and we have pushed the audience towards the stage. It is a fast moving play, and if you have a spare couple of hours, it is well worth the time to come see it.”

Day forecasts that audience members will experience a wide array of emotions as they follow the lives of Grover’s Corners’ tight-knit community.

“This play is literally as the title suggests,” Day said. “It is every town, our town. It is something that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions. There is laughter, pain, and it is just something beautiful that truly makes you focus on the meaning of life.”

“Our Town” will show at the Bean-Brown Theatre on Shelton State’s campus from tonight, Thursday, April 12, through Saturday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. More information about the show and tickets are available at 

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