Thornton Wilder wants to leave us with an impression and views about everyday life by the end of Act 1. Even at the start of the play, Wilder sets the scene as very simplistic, which allows the audience to imagine and create their own personal version of the town. This makes the play much more relatable and interesting. The picture of life in Grovers Corners starts with the description of the town. The audience is told where everything is, what goes on where and during this time that we are still learning about the town, we are told what happens to some of the main characters. This is unique and rare as most plays are building up through the whole play to the ending, yet Wilder changed “Our Town,” and rather we are affected and learning the whole way during this play. This fantastic description of Grovers Corners sets the scene for the rest of the play, not only describing what you see but what you can’t, which is very effective in making this play as realistic as it is.
The first dialogue after this description is between two characters, one called Joe – a young boy delivering papers and Mr. Gibbs, a doctor. The simple conversation between the two started as Joe said, “Somebody been sick, Doc?” This is a widespread, simple conversation between both. It lets the audience slowly get used to the people of Grovers Corners and introduce us to their town with a normal conversation. In the Breakfast scene, when we are first taken to Mrs. Gibbs home, observing their morning routine is very important as it gives us insight into the lives and situations of not only the Gibbs family, but Wilder has purposely swapped in and out of the Gibbs family and Webb family, showing us how very close the routine of the families are and just how normal they are. This gives us a clear picture in our heads of what goes on so far in Grovers Corners.
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By the time we reach the wives chat, the audience feels very comfortable as the friendship of Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Gibbs appeals to them. As both women talk about their problems, difficulties, and worries, this shows the audience they are just like everyone else and can relate to the characters. While we are being told the routine of a day in Grovers Corners, a few characters make us feel there is something behind them that Wilder had intentionally done. We see this in George and Emily’s relationship. They are friends who have grown up together, and Wilder clarifies that their lives are going to interject somehow, and these suspicions start as soon as we hear the conversation between Emily and George. All during the first act, we see all stages of life, and as we already know, George and Emily get married. This is very effective as it gives us a better picture of the town as a whole rather than just a few characters but makes it seem very real and ordinary.
Near the closing of the day, when the Church choir gathers, and we are told of the women who met after, the close group of friends include Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Webb. They gossip and chat about Simon Stimson and his drinking problem. In the First Act, Wilder shows us all aspects of the town and doesn’t leave anything out. Wilders main impression he wanted to create was that the town was ordinary and dull, just like any other, and nothing special happened within Grovers Corners. Yet, in itself, it was important to the lives of those who lived there and the play brought across. Wilder helps create this impression by giving the audience a large amount of background knowledge on Grovers Corners. He tells the reader such things as the population, birth and mortality rates and geographical location. All of this is useful to the reader and gives a deeper impression of the town’s history and the people who lived and worked there. Wilder successfully wants us to understand that an ordinary town like Grovers Corners has importance to all people who have and who do live there.
Even though the reader might not take all these facts and figures in, the information provided about the town makes it seem very real. Also, the similarities of the people in Grovers Corners are very effective in creating a picture of life. Like the similarities of the Gibbs and Webb family and the similarity in their routine. The writer does this because the audience sees the similarities occurring repeatedly, and these are just a few of the subtle hints the author uses to show that Our Town is all about everyday life. Significantly, this play includes the audience in it. Wilder wants to bridge the barrier between the stage and the audience and make the play relatable to everyone in the audience. It gives the impression of being connected with Grovers Corners while explaining and the story of the lives told. It doesn’t follow the normal way of a play, and this makes it different. Wilder did this to make the audience see the point of this play, that everyday life was taken for granted by everyone.
The Stage Manager has high importance, and he can be seen as a narrator of the play, but not only does he introduce the play, but he gives us key information and details we need to know to grasp and understand Our Town fully. The Stage Manager also inputs his opinion at certain times into the play, which makes you think about it, and I think it’s Wilders way of showing the meaning of certain parts of the play. The Stage Manager is also used to create an impression of the life in Our Town that we don’t see. Another key point that Wilder used to create a picture of the life in Grovers Corners is the many references to time in the play. This is to emphasize the point of time passing in normal daily life, the constant routine and how quickly time goes during these times; the references make it clear to the audience what is happening when they see the process of daily life in Our Town.
When Professor Willard is introduced, it is very effective in showing the small normal life of Grovers Corners. He talks about the vastness of the history of Grovers Corners and how it has been developed over the years into what it has become. In conclusion, We get the impression of the lives of a representative group of people from Grovers Corners. We can connect, relate and empathize with the general family routine and relationships. Wilder makes it more than just a small town in America; he aims to show that it represents human lives and normal routine in everyone’s lives taken for granted.