Our Town wedding scene
It's a tricky business inviting our audiences to see that Grover's Corners, 1899, is also our town--because of course in many ways it's. Few of us get our milk delivered on our back porches any more, and I don't think anyone has a horse driven milk truck. We don't cook as much on wood stoves. Dogs don't sleep in the street. Michelle's is closed and it's not so easy to get strawberry phosphates after school. And so on. Our town does not sit on old pliocene granite and our population is no longer 2,642. Even so, there are some distinct parallels: we may not be quite 86% percent republican, but El Paso County is not that far away. We still have a whole lot of churches. Culture? Well, ma'am, you're right--there ain't much.
But these are not the details that matter. What matters is that the fundamental things still apply: just like they did in Babylon and in Grover's Corners. Most people eat breakfast, do homeoiwrk, eventually grow up and they get married. Why this last month alone I went to two weddings---my son's in Philadelphia, and our very own stage manager's right here in Colorado City. Perfectly lovely weddings, as Mrs. Soames says. They were good weddings, and as many of them are. and nearly always they make you cry. The wedding now playing nightly in Grover's Corners is a good wedding too. My favorite moments in the production are when the stage manager is telling us that "every time a child is born into the world it' sNature's attempt to make a perfect human being" and we see Rebecca Gibbs (Mallory Hybl) coming down the aisle to take her seat. She's 9 years old and a very plausible attempt at making a perfect human being so far as I can tell. And then, just afterwards, the Stage Manager is telling us not to forget the ancestors,millions of them, and we see Framer McCartney (Gordon Hinds) oming down the aisle taking his seat too. Gordon is 89 years old and this may well be his last show. He's not an ancestor yet, but he's getting there, and with his great age has come the deepest appreciation of the play of any cast member. Listen to how he appreciates looking at the stars at night later on in the cemetary: "yes sir, wonderful," he says. To my ears this is the most resonant line in the show.
But back to the wedding in our town. Here it is, snapped from my Iphone on Friday night.
There was some popular sentiment for staging the wedding further upstage--so we'd all be looking at the bride and groom, and the wedding party would have their backs to us, more or less the way it happens at real weddings. But I wanted to put the bride and groom in the center of the stage, surrounded by everyone, audience and cast alike. George and Emily r us. Their wedding is just about the same in our town as it was in Grover's Corners at the turn of the last century. The same words are being said. The same feelings of fear, grief and joy are spread around the room. The music is familiar. And the whole affair, almost completely predictable and very simple, is always moving. It's a sacrament--and even if, as the stage manager says, we don't know what that means exactly, we know a sacrament when we feel it. In our town.