The Time to Consider Your Life

A review on Hilo Community Players’ take on the classic play by Thornton Wilder, “Our Town”

An artist's rendition of a town with peopleA cartoon depicting a scene from the play “Our Town”

Staff Writer Holly S. Trowbridge
Photographs courtesy of Hilo Community Players Facebook page

The Hilo Community Players performed their version of the classic play, “Our Town,” by Thornton Wilder over three weekends from Feb. 9 until Feb. 23. The play is known for its minimalistic approach to set design and its lack of props.

“Everything is left to the imagination, and so the play was sold to the auditioning actors as a blank canvas and as an opportunity really to shine. It wasn’t so much my pantomiming, but especially the two moms, Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Webb, have very developed, elaborate routines for making breakfast, and taking the kettle off the stove,” said Brennan Low, who plays Howie Newsome in “Our Town,” as well as an IT Specialist for UH Hilo.

The original show opened on Broadway on Feb, 4, 1938, the same year that the group the Hilo Community Players was created. This year’s production paid homage to both of these anniversaries by way of the program handed out to all 40 of the audience members on Feb. 16, written by the play’s director, Randal McEndree.

The production takes place in a town called Grover's Corners in New Hampshire, and presents the topic of daily life and busyness as the characters strut across the stage. The show is set up with a stage manager who breaks the fourth wall as he describes the town in act one.

During the production, an original song called “Our Town, Our Home” composed by BJ Soriano plays. After the show drew to a close on Feb. 16, the cast put on a talk-story time. Each member of the cast pulled a chair into a semi-circle on the stage and sat down with their popcorn in hand.

During the discussion, one prominent idea represented was that of how death is portrayed in the play. “The third act of the play is set at the grave of one of the main characters,” said Low. Her reflection of her own passing and her dealings with other townspeople who have passed provides the example or core of the reflection that the audience may pick up themselves; in fact, the audience was welcome to participate in the last act, and half a dozen audience members every night would show up and pretend to be dead people.

Maybe it’s a little glum, but the time to consider your life after you are gone is while you’re alive because then you can do something about it.”

Low encourages anyone who has a passing interest in acting or theater to check out the Hilo Community Players, particularly their productions of Shakespeare in the park coming up during the summer of 2020. Low added, “What’s neat is that the Hilo Community Players is a great opportunity for a lot of UH Hilo students to get involved with something that is happening locally. It’s equal opportunity, so they’re not going to tell you, ‘no you can’t be in our play because you have no acting experience.’”