Saturday, November 13, 2021

Eric Conway: Theatre Morgan presents Pulitizer Prize Winning Drama - OUR TOWN - this weekend ONLY!


Dr. Eric Conway writes:

Hello Morgan Fine and Performing Arts Community,

Last night, Theatre Morgan produced their first LIVE performance since the pandemic began, in Thorton Wilder’s 1938 Pulitzer Prize winning production of OUR TOWN.  Perhaps, because I have not attended a LIVE production since our pandemic began, I was especially connected with every word of this production - having not seen this show since my college years.  One theatre critic described this drama as “the greatest American play ever written!"

First, the elephant in the room, our COVID-19 pandemic!  Due to university policies, every performer and audience member wore a mask for the entirety of the evening.  All attendees were asked to give their names and contact information before entering the auditorium, just in case we needed to notify for COVID reasons.  Although not required by university policy, every attending person’s temperature was taken at the door, as an additional safety measure.  Finally, with a Turpin Lamb Theatre seating capacity of 271,  we were able to properly socially distance all audience members, with the exceptions of persons in the same family who sat together as a cohort.  This being said, once the play began, I did not think about the masks at all.  Despite the masks, the sound of the dialogue was still quite intelligible.  

This is a great production of OUR TOWN!  I was impressed that many of the principal actors in the show were freshmen - which bodes well for the future of Theatre Morgan!  All actors gave compelling performances - which was a credit to the director - Reginald Phoenix, Morgan Theatre faculty member.  

OUR TOWN was the perfect choice for a pandemic, when the direction from the playwright was for the stage to be bare, with a few select items present.  Actors were not to use props, but mime their actions instead.  The play took place between 1901-1913, therefore everyone on stage wore turn of the twentieth-century costumes.

The play is about life in a small fictional town in New Hampshire, Grover’s Corners, just over the Massachusetts State line.   This was a clever presentation of material where the main character, the Stage Manager, interacts with the audience directly throughout the production as an “emcee”.  Many questions about life and death are examined in the script.  At the end of the show, when Death is examined,  the playwright poses the question:  "Do we truly appreciate the simple joys of life, while we are living?"  Even though this was written nearly a century ago, this question is perhaps even more pertinent today than ever before!

This Theatre Morgan production was perhaps one of the best dramas that I have seen from this company in recent times!  There are only two more remaining productions of this show: this evening at 7:30 PM and tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 PM.   See attached a PDF of the playbill and pics from the opening-night production.

If you are able to attend, I believe you will truly be moved.  Don’t forget your masks!


Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.  Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.  -  Rumi. 
Eric Conway, D.M.A.
Fine and Performing Arts Department, Chair
Morgan State University

No comments: