Our Town Is A Play Like No Other

Alicia Donnelan

Alicia Donnelan

 

Part slice-of-life, part tone-poem, shyly spiritual.

I play the Stage Manager in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ production, a role like no other.

Well Paul Newman (whom I once had the privilege of playing for and meeting after the performance), and Spalding Grey, and Helen Hunt and numbers of distinguished others have played that Everyman, the Stage Manager. None of whom I am like. And yet we’re all actors.

And there is Dylan Thomas’s poetic masterpiece written in 1954, Under Milk Wood.

 

 

Do you know that poem by that good man of New England, Robert Frost, Trial by Existence?

Emiley Kiser and Joe Ferrarelli. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

Emiley Kiser and Joe Ferrarelli. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

And from a cliff-top is proclaimed

The gathering of the souls for birth,

The trial by existence named,

The obscuration upon earth.

 

 

 

But For sleight-of-the-eternal in the guise of the everyday, Our Town has it, I think.

 

Emiley Kiser, Joe Ferrarelli and the company. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

Emiley Kiser, Joe Ferrarelli and the company. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

What could be more quotidian than delivering milk or making breakfast or even getting married?

And what more metaphysical than:

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it, every, every moment?

– No, the saints and poets maybe. They do some.

 

Memory, Presence, the Ephemera that is theatre, the forward march of time …

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting …” — William Wordsworth

Or … “What’s that unforgettable line?” — Samuel Beckett

The company, opening tableau. Photo: Robin McGee

The company, opening tableau. Photo: Robin McGee

 

Kenneth Kay and Josh Stoughton. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

Kenneth Kay and Josh Stoughton. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

“Some say that the art of the theatre, born for and bound to the moment, must, like a soap bubble or nocturnal meteor, dazzle, then burst to leave no trace. Free yourself from this dark thought! The very fact that your art is a child of fragrance, of the spirit, of a mood, of personality and imagination, and not something of wood or stone, or even a thought fixed in black and white, but a sprite forever swinging free on beauty’s vine, the fact that it lacks tangible form, renders it immune to the gnawing of time’s worm. And that is what life truly means: to live in memory …. to rest in people’s minds free of the mildew and rust of age …. and this lot has been granted to you.” — Henrik Ibsen

 

Dan Leonard, Patti Gardner, Emiley Kiser. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

Dan Leonard, Patti Gardner, Emiley Kiser. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

 

“To live vividly in the memory of others seems to be a great thing. In terms of art, it always seems to me that there is something unique and electric about an artist connecting with an audience in live performance. The memory of these moments get parked in a different part of our mind. People speak of them with real reverence and clarity even many years after the applause has faded. To be remembered like that, in any aspect of life, is probably the nearest we have to time travel.”  Jonathan Pytell — pytell.com

 

 

“We all come here and we don’t know why. We all go in our turn and we don’t know where. And if you’re a bit better off, be thankful. And if you don’t get into trouble and make a fool of yourself, well be thankful for that, because you easily might.” — Henry Ormanroyd in When We Are Married by J B Priestly

The company at the funeral. Photo: Robin McGee

The company at the funeral. Photo: Robin McGee

Kudos to my fellow actors in our production like no other. Cast list here. It has been quite a ride. Company members have come and gone, rehearsals and performances have been fraught with incident. All borne with good humor and grace by that fine collection of human beings, the cast and crew of Our Town. Theatrical companies become families within three days. But in a company of this size we are a community.

The company. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

The company. Photo: Alicia Donnelan

“Backstage was chaos distilled into a very small space.” ― William Alexander, Goblin Secrets

Robin McGee

Robin McGee

Note to self: this is one where the less ACTING the better …

N.A.R. (No Acting Required)

— John Voight …

“The most exciting acting tends to happen in roles you never thought you could play.”

― John Lithgow …

“When you most succeed, you do so by seeming not to act at all.”

― Stella Adler, The Art of Acting

13 thoughts on “Our Town Is A Play Like No Other

  1. Beth

    That left me with a tear in my eye. What an honor, right? I loved particularly the quote by Jonathan Pytell. Thank you Colin!

    Reply
    1. MA

      Lo the great mysteries of life, mind and memory – ’rounded in a sleep’.
      Thank you for this most beautiful collection of insights esp the Ibsen.
      When I myself played Mother Gibbs in my school play in Melbourne aged 15, I was upset Emily’s line – ‘it all goes by so fast’ and I’ve been hanging on as best I can ever since! What a play and what a terrific overview you’ve given us.
      Thank you
      Marnie xx

      Reply
  2. Steven Ray

    Thank you Colin for this page….very nicely put together…
    I very much admire the look and style of the production…
    There is a good and strong spirit in the photographs.
    Would love to have seen it….
    Look forward to the next…
    All best,
    Steven Ray

    Reply
  3. Claire Blanchard

    Colin, This page is particularly beautiful and passionate. Your quotes are exceptional, and as someone else just said, “Moving!” Thank you for such a beautiful performance – the cast was truly remarkable. I am so very happy and privileged to have been able to attend! Kudos….to the quintessential/classic play of all time….and YOUR performance of it! Thanks again, Colin.

    Reply
  4. Bill Lafferty

    Sent from my iPad

    Begin forwarded message:

    > From: Sol Heit > Date: January 18, 2015 at 6:30:42 AM EST > To: “alimeylady@bellsouth.net” > Subject: Fw: Fwd: Good Friends > Reply-To: Sol Heit > > > > > > > > > ———- Forwarded message ———- > > > > > Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone > > >

    Reply
  5. Bill Lafferty

    Sent from my iPad

    Begin forwarded message:

    > From: Sol Heit > Date: May 23, 2015 at 4:39:50 PM EDT > To: “alimeylady@bellsouth.net” > Subject: Fw: Fwd: Asking for prayers > Reply-To: Sol Heit > > > > > > > > >

    Reply
  6. Terence Clarke

    Dear Colin, A very happy new year to you and Trish. I remember seeing the new year in with you in New York some years ago. We were high up in a condo and saw the fireworks in Central Park, rather tame in comparison with Sydney’s.

    I am spurred to write because of *Our Town*. I played George at university and I ‘teach’ it each year. It has a special p,ace in my affections. I hope you may have seen the production some years ago at the Barrow Street Theatre. I was awash before the end of Act I. The coup de théâtre near the end, when Emily goes back to her 12th birthday, bowled me over.

    I’m hoping to visit in March/April.

    With love to you both, Terry PS I think the woman who kindly rented her flat to me on my last visit may have been in the Barrow St production

    Reply

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