The Stage Manager Is A Man Of

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




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