Happy Birthday, ACT! ... coming home to Our Town
ACT’s 20th anniversary - Re-staging the debut play, Our Town
Our Town is back in our Charlottetown, playing for two weekends at the Carrefour. ACT (a community theatre) is presenting evening performances Thursday to Saturday, April 9, 10 and 11, a Sunday afternoon matinee on the 12th, and two more shows on Friday the 17th and Saturday April 18th. Paul Whelan is the director.
Our Town won Thornton Wilder the Pulitzer Prize. It is one of the most popular and beloved theatre pieces of all time: after three quarters of a century, it is still performed at least once a day somewhere in the world. The New York Post called it “beautiful and remarkable—one of the sagest, warmest and most deeply human scripts to have come out of our theatre ... a spiritual experience.”
PEI reviewer Sean McQuaid called it “the best piece of theatre I’ve seen in town this year.” That year was 1995, when Our Town was the very first production of ACT (a community theatre). McQuaid was prophetic: “With any luck,” he said, “Our Town is only the first of many ACT productions in our town.” And so it was: in the two decades since then, ACT has staged more than 50 productions—Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan, uproarious comedies, avant-garde, edgy drama, home-grown originals, blockbuster musicals. And now ACT is celebrating its 20th anniversary by remounting its debut show, Our Town.
Theatre-goers will find a hallway display of materials from the original 1995 production and ACT’s first season. David Sherren, the man who directed the first show, will be coming over to the Island for a performance. A gala reception will be held for members of the original company and for persons and organizations who have supported ACT through the years.
Our Town is a play that sets off the audience imagination. Sound and lighting effects, mime, the Stage Manager’s narration, and a minimal set with little more than some chairs and a couple of step-ladders: they make two family homes and a main street come alive ... with dynamically fluid shifts from present to past to future.
Thornton Wilder saw his play as “an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events of our daily life.” Our lives, in both their grand-event rituals and their daily humdrum routines, are really quite miraculous. As the young woman Emily comes to understand in her end-of-the-play wisdom, we never fully appreciate all we have until we lose it. “Oh earth,” she cries, “you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”
There are four ways to get Our Town tickets. They will be sold at the door, but in view of the special nature of this anniversary production, organizers believe there is a likelihood of sell-out. They are therefore providing three methods for advance purchase. The online box office is at www.actourtown.brownpapertickets.com; phone service is at 1-800-838-3006 ext1. And in-person cash sale will be available twice at the Charlottetown Farmers Market—from 9:30 to noon on Saturday March 28th and April 4th.
The Carrefour will be catering intermission refreshments for the performances. The Carrefour/Ecole François-Buote is reached via the Queen Elizabeth Hospital turn-off from the Charlottetown bypass.
For information: 628-6778, robthomson @ pei.sympatico.ca
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