The Stissing Center is presenting a staged reading of the classic American play “Our Town” on Sunday, July 9. The event is a part of the larger Pine Plains bicentennial celebration that is taking place through various events all year long.
“Our Town” is a three-act play created and written by playwright Thornton Wilder in 1938. The play centers on the fictional American town of Grover’s Corners between 1901 and 1913, and focuses on embracing and appreciating the value of life through the everyday lives of its residents.
“It’s a portrait of a small town and the moral of the story is that the living people don’t appreciate life while they’re living it,” said Patrick Trettenero, the director of the production.
Patrick, who is also the co-chair of the bicentennial committee, said that the most important thing was stacking the cast with Pine Plains residents. “We didn’t bring in actors for this, the people who are in this reading are people who live here.”
This staged reading has been in the making for a rather long time. “I first had a conversation with Darrah Cloud about it two or three years ago,” Patrick said. “There are so many similarities between Grover’s Corners and Pine Plains, so it’s perfect for celebrating the bicentennial our way.”
Many similarities, indeed. Patrick noted that in Grover’s Corners there is constant talk about a local mountain, a handful of families who have been in the town for hundreds of years and who are still there, and talk about farming in a way that is celebratory of the lifestyle – sound familiar?
“Fun fact, the size of [Grover’s Corners] is almost the same as the population in Pine Plains!” Patrick said.
Additionally, Patrick noted the enduring popularity of the play. “ [”Our Town”] is such a popular classic that there’s a performance of it somewhere in the world every single day,” he said. Patrick also shared a quote from Act 1 of the play, spoken by the Stage Manager, “So, people a thousand years from now, this is the way we were in the provinces north of New York at the beginning of the twentieth century. This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying.”
“The narrator is god-like and is also the stage manager,” Patrick said. “He’s married to what’s going on, and in many cases, is kind of controlling what happens.”
Patrick has quite the theatrical background and is also currently a producer of the broadway musical “Here Lies Love,” which was written by David Byrne of the Talking Heads, and Fatboy Slim.
“I don’t get a chance to do much theater in Pine Plains, so this is a chance for me to stretch those muscles here at home, too,” Patrick said.
The staged reading of “Our Town” will take place at The Stissing Center on Sunday, July 9 at 3p.m. Tickets are on sale here, or call the box office at (518) 771-3339.