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Our Town

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  25,770 ratings  ·  867 reviews
Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize–winning drama of life in the town of Grover 's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.

It is now reissued in this handsome hardcover edition, featuring a new Foreword by Donald Marg
Paperback, 181 pages
Published September 23rd 2003 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1938)
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Community Reviews

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American playwriting at its best. I think the most stunning thing is that this book manages to convey a deep sense of human tragedy without portraying people who rabidly abuse each other. This is also why many hack directors (not to mention high schools) have been able to produce the work as a saccharine fairytale, and the bad reputation of this play can certainly be attributed to these careless people. But you, my dear critical thinker--you should read this.
Goodbye, Grover’s Corners

I saw a really terrible movie this weekend called "Stardust". I thought that it would be terrific since the cast is star-studded and mostly because it was based on a novel by the very clever Neil Gaiman (who I am a big fan of, Sandman, American Gods, Good Omens & the "Brakiri Day of the Dead" episode of Babylon 5 for fans in the know). But alas, the movie sucked (although Deniro was funny. Yarg!!).

But the movie also stars Claire Daines who I used to be a big fan of i
Amber Tucker
Okay, first of all – because people will criticize me for it, and rightly so – I have not seen this play. I fully appreciate that plays are written in order to be viewed on stage, not on page, and that people who judge a play after merely reading it are probably the bane of a playwright's life. That said, I feel that if there's any play that's could be "seen" just as well in the mind of the reader, it's Our Town.. From the setting to the plot to the characters' actions, the entire thing is almo ...more
The Ghosts of Belfast review, Part IV
Part I
Part II
Part III

The Troubles, continued
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Apr 14, 2007 Lydia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: drama
A timeless masterpiece!This is absolutely my favorite play. It is timeless and universal, pertaining to anyone, anywhere. The story takes place in a small town at the turn of the century, in 1901, and takes place over the course of about fourteen years. The story line is extremely simplistic, but allows the reader to focus on the deeper themes that author, Thorton Wilder, is able to display. The play has three acts that each represent daily life, love and marriage, and death. Living people are p ...more
I have read this book too many times to count. It is amazingly ageless and speaks to each generation. I was priviledged to see Paul Newman open as the Stage Manager on opening night in Wesport,CT. I read quotes from it at my younger sister's funeral. I carries a lot of weight with me. Read the book before you ever see a high school production!
Jack Rhea

The hardest thing for someone to do is to appreciate the simplest details in life that would mean the most to you. After Thornton Wilder read Stein's novel The Making of Americans, he decided to write his award winning play Our Town. Our Town traces the childhood, marriage, and death of Emily Webb and George Gibbs and their families. Mr. Wilder uses the Stage Manager shares the examples of the universal meanings behind the ordinary lives that these people live in Grover's Corners, New Hampshire
Winner of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Occasionally a book comes along that makes me say, now this is why I read. Thornton Wilder was perfect when he wrote this and the result was perfection. "Our Town" struck every chord just right for me. I grew up near a small town on a farm and I recognized this town, and I recognized these people. Through the first two acts of this play I was loving it and thinking, this is the Americana that is fast disappearing, maybe already has. Then act 3 knocked
Adam K.
I must admit that I kind of checked in and out for the first half of this play, from the beginning through about midway through the second act. I had begun with the prejudice that this play was corny, a little too folksy to be taken seriously. This myth was perpetuated by remembering how it was performed on both Growing Pains and The Wonder Years when I was a kid. It seemed that if a television series about kids had to show those kids as teens acting out a play, might as well show them pretendin ...more
Melissa Rudder
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I am doing this play as a Productions Company at my high school right now with a very talented director, following a concept from director David Cromer, who has really been able to help me see the beauty in this play and the messages it sends. What I love about Our Town is the natural, real communication that is in it. The characters, especially in those one-on-one conversations, express such beautiful, real feelings to each other, and are honest in their words and reactions. Especially the scen ...more
Erik Simon
I saw an amazing production of this last night in the Village, and I would like to use this review to generate dialogue about this play for anyone who is interested. First, the production: black box theater, intimate, bare staging, bare set, except for the final scene of Emily's twelve-year-old birthday party. The role of Stage Manager was played as effectively as I've ever seen it played. The guy nailed it, just nailed it. In fact, the scenes that moved me most were not the love scene in the ma ...more
Wael Mahmoud
A beautiful and sad play.

The play is performed without a set and the actors mime their actions without the use of props, With a narration by a stage manager, All these elements make the play very interesting and challengeable to any director.

I always feel sad when writers talk about the ordinary every-day life, Don't kown exactly why?, In this play along with the ordinary lives of its characters, The third act with its funeral atmosphere made it almost a melancholy play.

Wilder's language in the
I honestly cannot remember ever having read Our Town before, and yet so much of it feels familiar--which may be the whole point. It's a lovely play, and I'd be interested to see it performed onstage.

Oddly enough, though, the thing that has stuck with me since reading the play about a week ago is the nonchalance about death. The Stage Manager tells us that Wally Webb, Emily's brother, died when his appendix burst on a camping trip, and I realized with a shock that when Emily died, Emily's parent
I surprise myself with ratings.

So this is Our Town. It is simplicity. It is a snapshot in time. It is a familiarity between audience and stage. I read in another review the most interesting part: it conveys a message without violence. And that is indeed something rare in American plays. Everything has its share of alcohol, of abuse, of the pursuit of the failed American dream - that gets boring. Other plays have an excess of stage props and directions [e.g. move URC, cue sound effect 8, dim ligh
This is the second time I've read this play and it was a different experience but still great. One of the most interesting things about this play to me is the contrast of a slow, rural town presented in a more modern way (at least it feels modern, even though the model is centuries old). It also paints such a vivid picture of the lives of these people while remaining universal and relatable.

If you read the edition pictured here, be sure to read in the back an article from the New York Times tha
I've been reading Thornton Wilder lately, and I noted at one point that he said about this play, "Lord! What I got myself in for. A theologico-metaphisico transcription for the Purgatorio with panels of American rural genre-stuff." My high school did the play many years ago, and I remember on the one hand being near tears at the end, and on the other being oh-so-superior to its sentimentality. I haven't seen it since, and I'm a great admirer of Dante, so I thought I'd better give it a try. It's ...more
When Wilder wrote this play, he had very minimal props and curtains in it, in order to remind the audience that the play was not reality. So instead of having physical visuals, he had a Stage Manager explain the invisible scenery to everyone. The beginning of this play, as well as a few paragraphs here and there, are solely monologue of the Stage Manager explaining what the town looks like (i. e. "The Presbyterian church is to the left, the Catholic Church is opposite it... Main Street runs righ ...more
Thorton Wilder's book "Our Town" is a must read that was published in 1938. It is set in New Hampshire, Grovers Corners which is an average size town that represents much that an average life in town would. The book is split up into three acts. Characters throughout the book are: George Gibbs, stage manager, emily webb, dr. gibbs, mrs. gibbs, mrs. soames, mr. webb, simon stimson, wally webb, rebacca gibbs, Joe crowell jr., howie newsome, professor willard, si cowell, sam craig, constable warren, ...more
Tanya Lolonis
We had to read this in high school (sophomore year, I believe), and I was so moved by "Our Town" that I scoured our school library for anything else he'd written. And I read it all, and thoroughly enjoyed. This remains my favorite, and his best, stripping away distractions to explore universal truths in small acts, simple words -- life, death, love. Very basic, very, very good. Even now, some (ahem) years later, I can still feel its emotional purity and force. I remember also learning about his ...more
"The soul, my dear, is eternal. Not the houses, not the names, not the money. The soul."

This play is simple to its core; plain plot, zero settings, ordinary life characters. It takes you to a town, that could be anytime, anywhere and tells you a story that has been told for thousand of years and probably will be for many more; the story of people. Everyday, real-life people, like me and you, like them one century ago.

It starts out rather dull and pointless but in the process it unwraps all tha
Favorite Lines:
I guess we're all hunting like everybody else for a way the diligent and sensible can rise to the top and the lazy and quarrelsome can sink to the bottom. Meanwhile, we do all we can to help those that can't help themselves and those that can we leave alone.

Everybody has a right to their own troubles.

You know how it is: you're 21 or 22 and you make some decisions; then whissh! you're seventy: you've been a lawyer for fifty years, and that white-haired lady at your side has eaten
A very good play. Though I have not seen the play performed, reading the script is still an effective way to experience it. Wilder was very thoughtful in arranging the script; it is all together extremely well-crafted. The characters and events seem so honest, the people so real. The play is a glimpse of life, and a commentary on living. It is emotional and tender, but with enough honesty and objectivity to avoid any feeling of tragedy. I could not help but think about my own family while readin ...more
I really do not know why this play is required reading in so many high schools. I think reading it this last time was the first time I fully appreciated the last act. Maybe a person has to read it so many times before they do? I recall reading it in high school and thinking:
1. This is totally weird!
2. Okay, already, we don't appreciate life - who has time to stand around appreciating things all the time?

This time I thought - wow, I should go hug some people and notice the little things today.
Alice Of Wonderland
Some play written by a dead guy. Guess what? Shakespeare is also a "dead guy" too, but at least, he has a better sense of writing a play than Thorton Wilder.

I'm not too interested in plays like Our Town. It's contemporary. Boring. Telling so much without telling something. (I'm more interested in other plays like The Midsummer Night's Dream, but at least, this one didn't make me want to kill myself like Romeo and Juliet). I guess I'm one of those people who really don't understand the "greatness
Ken Shindle
Our Town, Thornton Wilder's most famous play, explores small-town life in fictional Grover's Corners and serves as an obviously symbolic contemplation of human life; each of the play's three acts, then, represents a stage of growth and maturation: childhood, adulthood, and death. Wilder follows the Webb and Gibbs families, whose progeny fall in love and wed and die too young. The story plays out over just about 100 pages, reflective of the exceedingly minimalistic approach Wilder takes to his ta ...more
I didn't quite know how I was going to sum up my feelings about this book, but the last paragraph of the After-words section did it perfectly for me!
"She (Emily) learns that each life - though it appears to be a repetition among millions-can be felt to be inestimably precious. Though the realization of it is present to us seldom, briefly, and incommunicably. At that moment there are no walls, no chairs, no tables: all is inward. Our true life is the imagination and in the memory." - Thornton Wi
Jay Szpirs
Surprisingly strong and resonant, despite a slow start in Act I. The Stage Manager character plays a sophisticated game with the audience and the subtext between characters is palpable.

As the Stage Manager says in Act I, this story is a time-capsule - a monument to the way life was at the start of the 20th century. It succeeds in that regard and further - as a foreshadow of the absurdist and epic theatre styles to come (OK, Brecht was contemporary to Wilder but his work wouldn't reach the North
I remember seeing this play when I was in elementary school. Part of the attraction as a kid is hanging out in the balcony and being with your friends. Even so, at that young age, I remember being struck by the performance of the star of the show playing the stage manager. Even with the performers being high school kids it was easy to see how well written the source material must be.

One wonders how somebody who considers himself a reader of the great works could have read no Thornton Wilder. I
Victoria Stark
This is perhaps my favorite play of all time. It is a place that strips away the artificial exterior of everyday life and finds the common heart within every individual. Rich with beautiful characterization, simple plot development, and surprisingly abstract in design, it is a play detailing that even the most mundane aspects of life are as precious as the moments we cherish the most. It is a play that endures because it tells the story of humanity, and how life is nothing short of rewarding. Al ...more
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life, love,and death 2 4 Sep 23, 2014 05:10PM  
Can't we just look at each other? 1 15 Jun 19, 2014 03:51AM  
Our Town analysis, themes, trivia, audio, video 2 28 Mar 21, 2013 01:35PM  
Hollinger: 1 Spri...: Question Set #2 6 19 Jan 26, 2012 02:30PM  
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Thornton Niven Wilder was an American playwright and novelist. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, one for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and two for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and a National Book Award for his novel The Eighth Day.
For more see
More about Thornton Wilder...
The Bridge of San Luis Rey The Skin of Our Teeth Three Plays: Our Town/The Skin of Our Teeth/The Matchmaker The Eighth Day The Ides of March

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“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.” 96 likes
“EMILY: "Does anyone ever realize life while they live it...every, every minute?"

STAGE MANAGER: "No. Saints and poets maybe...they do some.”
More quotes…