Our Town: Appreciating Every Day

Theatre has always played an important role in my life. Since I was young, I wanted to be an actress. In high school, I was a total theatre nerd, attending several summer theatre institutes and participating in all of the shows at my school. Though I no longer find myself on stage, theatre still holds a special place in my heart. It has the ability to parallel the real world and teach us important moral lessons, so I still look to plays to inform me about various aspects of life.

One of my favorite plays and one that I make a point to read annually is Our Town by Thornton Wilder. It takes place in the small town Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, and spans the lives of its residents throughout a fourteen-year period. However, while many shows we watch or read today focus on great climactic events in their characters’ lives,Our Town differs in that nothing particularly monumental unfolds. Instead, it simply follows the day-to-day lives and routines of its characters through the main stages of life: Daily Life, Love and Marriage, and Death and Eternity (the names of the three acts of the show).

The first time I sat down and read Our Town, I was a high school senior weathering the college application process and had just been given and asked to perform Emily Webb’s final monologue. This speech is packed with feeling and meaning, so I decided to read the play in its entirety to derive a better sense of context. I had no idea how deeply the play would resonate with me.

Highlighting the ordinary daily activities of its characters, the play appears simplistic on the surface, but readers take away a powerful message with deeper analysis. The play teaches us to stop and to appreciate the little moments of life-- waking up, walking to school, talking to the milkman, and other "normal" activities we never take the time to notice.

This is a message that I find particularly poignant every year when I read the play. Too often in life, we get caught up in the whirlwind of events that are happening around us. Especially as a busy college student who plans out every second her day, it’s rare for me to have time to stop and fully appreciate the little moments spent with friends and family and even the mundane activities of day-to-day life. I know I can't be the only one; the world we live in today is continually in motion and prioritizes getting work done over taking a moment to relax and take in all that is going on around us. We never pause to fully grasp the beauty of our lives.

Art—and specifically theater—has the unique ability to make us ponder our own lives in contrast to those of the characters we watch and read about. This is what keeps me coming back to Wilder’s play year after year. Each time I read the play, I’m reminded of the wonderful life I lead and how much I take for granted every day. It’s the perfect reminder to step back and to truly realize all of the blessings in my chaotic life. So, even though life can be stressful and crazy and ever-changing, Our Town reminds us to slow down and take a moment to truly recognize the beauty in the little routines and rituals of life.