Many Roles Essay, Research Paper
The Stage Manager is a man of many roles. Usually a stage
manager is part of the non-acting staff and in complete charge of
the bodily aspects of the production. In Thornton Wilder?s Our
Town, the Stage Manager goes well beyond his usual function in a
play and undertakes a large role as a performer. In Our Town the
Stage Manager is a narrator, moderator, philosopher, and an actor.
Through these roles the Stage Manager is able to communicate the
theme of universality in the play.
The main role of the Stage Manager is that of narrator and
moderator. He keeps the play moving by capsule summations and
subtle hints about the future. "I?ve married over two-hundred
couples in my day. Do I believe in it? I don?t know? M?.marries
N?.millions of them. The cottage, the go-cart, the
Sunday-afternoon drives in the Ford, the first rheumatism, the
grandchildren, the second rheumatism, the deathbed, the reading
of the will-once in a thousand times it?s interesting"(699). Here the
Stage Manager is giving insight about George and Emily?s future.
He is hinting about their life and fate to come. "Goin? to be a great
engineer, Joe was. But the war broke out and he died in France. All
that education for nothing" (673). The incidents discussed about
are great events in George, Emily, and Joe?s lives. The Stage
Manage emphasizes that the short things in these people?s lives
are overlooked. There isn?t realization that it is the small parts of
their lives that make a difference.
His role as narrator differs from most narration. The Stage
Manager?s narration shows casualness. The casualness connects
the Stage Manager to the audience. "Presently the STAGE
MANAGER, hat on and pipe in mouth?he has finished setting
the stage and leaning against the right proscenium pillar
watches the late arrivals in the audience."(671) The informality is
evident since he smokes a pipe, wears a hat, and leans formally
against the proscenium pillar. He also greets and dismisses the
audience at the beginning and end of each act. The stage manager
interrupts daily conversation on the street. The Stage Manager
enters and leaves the dialog at will. He is also giving the foresight
of death in the play. His informality in dress, manners, and speech,
connects the theme, universality, of the production to the
audience. His actions make the audience feel that he is a part of the
audience. It is as though he is "one of the guys" or one with the
Philosophy was also another of the Stage Managers avocations.
His philosophies are about daily life, love and marriage and death.
"Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -every,
every minute?(708) Every, every detail in one?s life has an impact.
It effects life from that moment forward. Each detail impacts the
whole universe. "Only this one is straining away, straining away all
the time to make something of itself. The strain?s so bad that every
sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest"(709). This
philosophy on daily life is that every single detail matters and the
living overlook the small things. People strain over the big things
in life and do not take the time to enjoy the ordinary "small" events
in life. "Almost everybody in the world gets married-you know
what I mean? In our town there aren?t hardly any exceptions. Most
everybody in the world climbs into their graves married?People
were made to live two by two" (696). His philosophy on love and
marriage is traditional. He represents the feelings of a large
population that do not want to live the single life. This philosophy
on love and marriage is universal, pertaining to many people. The
Stage Manager takes this universal theory and relates it to one
couple, in one place, in one period of time. "Now there is some
things we all know, but we don?t take?m out and look at?m very
often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain?t houses
and it ain?t names, and it ain?t earth, and it ain?t even the
stars?everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal,
and that something has to do with human beings?You know as
well as I do that the dead don?t stay interested in us living people
for very long. Gradually, gradually, they lose hold of the
earth?and the ambitions they had?and the pleasures they
had?and the things they suffered?and the people they loved"
(701). The Stage Manager?s philosophy on death is unique. It is
more of a philosophy on life than of death because the dead feel
sorry for the living who cannot fully appreciate life. The living
cannot see that every detail matters. Every detail has a universal
effect. Our Town is based upon the Stage Manager?s philosophies.
The Stage Manager is part of the community itself. He is an actor.
He plays several minor roles throughout the play. The significance
of the Stage Manager taking on these roles is that anyone, any
insignificant person who one meets on the street is important. In
Act I, he plays a woman in the street whom George has
accidentally bumped into while chasing a baseball. As Mrs. Forest,
The Stage Manager says, "Go out and play in the fields, young
man. You got no business playing baseball on Main Street"(679).
Although it is the Stage Manager playing Mrs. Forest the
character still has an impact over George?s actions. In Act II, he
plays Mr. Morgan, the druggist and soda jerk. Mr. Morgan serves
George and Emily while George proposes to Emily. Such a small
role has a large impact. The Stage Manager plays this part
demonstrating that an insignificant person is involved in a large
event. The Stage Manager also assumes the part of the minister
who performs the marriage ceremony. In Act III he is Emily?s
contact between the living and the dead. He presents the theme.
The most minor person or episode makes an impression.
The Stage Manager shows that the scope of Our Town is wider
than just the daily events of several ordinary people in a small New
Hampshire town in the early 1900?s. "The name of the town is
Grover?s Corner?s, New Hampshire-just across the Massachusetts
line: latitude 42 degrees 40 minutes; longitude 70 degrees 37
minutes"(671). The play begins in a particular place on a particular
day at a precise moment. "There are the stars-doing their old, old
crisscross journeys in the sky?"(709) The play ends in space. Not
a particular place. Not a particular moment. "?we want to know
how all this began-this wedding, this plan to spend a lifetime
together. I?m awfully interested in how big things like that
begin"(961). "I?ve married over two-hundred couples in my day.
Do I believe in it? I don?t know? M?.marries N?.millions of
them"(699). The Stage Manager makes a general statement about
an aspect of human nature and here can relate it to George and
Emily. He presides at George and Emily?s wedding with the initial
comment about the whole question of marriage. He discusses other
aspects of weddings and refers to wedding customs in Rome. His
remarks transcend to a particular place, Grover?s Corners, of the
particular couple, George and Emily.
The Stage Manager puts Grover?s Corners in perspective with the
rest of the world and ultimately the universe itself. The Stage
Manager communicates the theme of universality through his
narration, moderation, philosophies, and acting. The implication
here is that there are many Grover?s Corners and countless
characters like those in the play, who have, are, and will continue
the cycles of daily life, love marriage, procreation, and eventually
death. The name of the play itself is indicative of its universality; it
is indeed our town and the human predicament which is its