‘Our Town’ comes to Macomb

Doug Hoepker

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Thornton Wilder’s classic play “Our Town” will be performed in Simpkins Theatre Oct. 13 through 17 at 7:30 p.m.On the surface, “Our Town,” written as a play within a play, is a reminder of the myth of small-town Americana, a time when drugs could only be purchased from the drugstore and the flag was only burned by patriotic people after it accidentally touched the ground. This shallow appreciation is what has propelled the play into hundreds of high school auditoriums each year. However, looking deep within the play, which blends a traditional storytelling approach with tons of symbolism, one finds Wilder’s intense cry for America to wake up and appreciate life.

“The play calls on the whole cast to be more sensitive human beings both on the stage and in real life. Because it deals with such universal themes – of life, and how it’s too short – we need to stop and enjoy people we love and not take them for granted,” Simon Abou-Fadel, a third-year WIU graduate theatre student and “Our Town” cast member, said. This theme is played out through the lives of two families, the Gibbs and the Webbs.

The budding romance between a Gibb and a Webb builds throughout the play and by act three, lands in the audience’s laps, along with some serious issues that demand attention. Wilder forces the audience to grasp death as a means of obtaining a lust for life.

Abou-Fadel plays the role of stage manager, which he admits is the most difficult role he has tackled since he began acting his sophomore year of college. “I don’t want to call (the stage manager) a narrator, because he does more than that … I’m viewing him a lot like a preacher. He’s there to harvest the souls and to teach universal lessons about God, nature and the cosmos through these people that he loves so much,” Abou-Fadel said.

“He’s the spiritual guide for the audience and the characters.” According to Abou-Fadel, the experienced and talented cast is enjoying following the lead of director David (Young Hwan) Choi. Taking part in the play is having an overwhelming effect on the cast. “We’ve all joined together like a family. I can’t remember the last time I was so close to a cast,” Abou-Fadel said.

Abou-Fadel is also sure of another thing – WIU’s version of “Our Town” will go far beyond the imagination of a high school rendition to create an engaging experience for the audience. However, he also realizes that this play has a demanding script that forces the audience to be active thinkers.

“We need (the audience) to come in with an open mind, ready to accept the world of the play,” Abou-Fadel said. If you are up for the challenge then head out to Simpkins Theatre for an evening that will prove to be a growing experience. rb cw ps sf