Saturday, January 1, 2011

Three Plays by Thornton Wilder

Love this sooo much! I don't usually read plays, but I needed to read The Skin of Our Teeth for my American Lit class, and this anthology of three plays is what I got from the library. I'd read Our Town before, and decided to give it a second try, and I discovered that The Matchmaker is actually the play that the musical, Hello Dolly is based on. I loved reading all three. I'm a big Hello Dolly fan, so it was fun to read this play. Most of the best lines from the musical came straight from Thornton Wilder. Such a genius. Our Town is very touching and unexpected. Wilder had a very honest way of viewing the world, and Our Town was surprisingly spiritual. I loved this quote:

Stage Manager (p. 81): Now there are some things we all know, but we don't take'm out and look at'm very often. 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 ben 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.

Our Town is definitely a good "make you think" kind of play, but it's not heavy. It's light and funny at times and isn't always trying to hit you over the head with its message. Very good.

The Skin of Our Teeth is bizarre, but I thought it was hilarious. It has to be the strangest play I've ever heard about. For one thing, the play can't decide whether or not it takes place in the New Jersey of the 1950s, the ice age, or the time of Noah's Ark. It keeps jumping back and forth. The other thing that took me by surprise is a character named Sabina is constantly breaking out of character and addressing the audience, telling them how much she hates the play and how it doesn't make any sense. She'll suddenly break out of character and say things like, "Oh, let's skip this scene. It's awful," or, "I can't say that line; it'll hurt the feelings of a friend I have in the audience." But it's all part of the play. I had a good time reading this and digesting all the symbology and archetypes in it. Not for everybody, but I have to confess that I completely loved it.

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