Monday, October 16, 2006

Simpler Times...

In doing the play OUR TOWN, we thought we could put it on fast and cheap, as there is very limited scenery, and all the props are imaginary. The story itself is a plain and simple story of life in a gentler time, life in a small town in upstate New Hampshire, in 1901.

It starts out with a man called THE STAGE MANAGER, walking on stage and telling us to use our imagination and see the town as it is laid out, with the drug store over here, and the bank and post office over here, and the jail and the library over here. Then he takes us down stage, and asks us to imagine the Gibbs’ house and garden with Julia Gibbs’ heliotropes giving off their strong aroma. And then Editor Webb’s house with his wife’s garden just like Julia’s but with sunflowers instead.

The factory whistle blows, and the school bell rings and the kids all run to school before the 2nd bell. The Train whistle blows to let us know that the train is on time. The milkman comes through carrying his imaginary milk bottles, and leading his imaginary horse, 17 yr old Bessie, who wants to keep stopping at the Carter’s, even though they quit taking milk.

The Town Constable does his early morning walk through town, and his late night walk to assure all is well, the Newsboy delivers his imaginary papers, and the Doc delivers twins across the imaginary tracks to an imaginary family in Polish town.

THE costumes are real, the people are real, and before the 1st act is even underway, your mind has taken you there, and the props are all real, the French toast is real, and you can smell the heliotropes and Lilacs blooming. Life was simpler then, There was no Television, no electricity, no telephones, very very few fords, and lots and lots of LIFE!

I sit in the light booth every night running the light cues, while Judy runs all of the Sound cues. We bring that town to life. So much so in fact, that I really put myself right into the story. I start thinking back to when Life was so much simpler for me. Back when I played outside every day, rain or shine. We would play red light green light, until way after dark; we would play Simon Says, Red Rover, Red Rover send Sally right Over, and we would ride our bikes until the tires wore out!

We came in for Supper every night, and sometimes we could go back out to play, but mostly we would play games or listen to the radio until 8:00 which was bedtime. I am not going to tell you that we woke up every morning to a home cooked breakfast, not with our Mother! We would get our own cereal and get our selves off to the bus stop, where we would wait for the school bus to stop and load both high school and grade school children in for the ride into town.

The second act is all about falling in love and marrying, and during one scene Julia and Doc Gibbs are talking and Doc remembers his wedding day, when he saw Julia for the very first time in his life. Julia said it was awful for her too. Mrs. Webb, then tells about crying while thinking about Emily getting married and what she did not know yet, and how innocent they all were, and how awful it was to put our daughters through this ritual.

Imagine, not knowing what was going to happen on your wedding night, and imagine not even KNOWING your husband! Times really have changed, as now days, most couples have actually LIVED together for a few years before they married.

When I first came to Oak Harbor, the population was under 3000, and now it is closer to 45000! We had Parks, and schools and Churches and the Farmers co-op, and a bus station, and three cafes, and an ice cream parlor. We had a jewelry store, and a pawn shop, and two groceries and not much else. Today we have the typical electronic Menu up and down the high way, with both a K-mart and a Wal-mat, a Home- Depot and 4 big box grocery stores. Not to mention all the strip malls and businesses, and car lots! Times really have changed, and not always for the better.

I liked living in a small town where everyone knew everyone, and looked out for each other. There was not much in the way of crime, a few drunks and the local bad boys, that’s it.

The play ends in the Cemetery where life is chronicled on the tombstones, and the Dead all help each other cope with the newness of being no longer alive, and watching their loved ones grieve over them. They have no emotions, and look at the stars and wonder at the beauty of them. No more sorrow, no more joy, just stars. And memories.

You all need to see it!

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