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Teachers and educators: Get the most out of your time in the classroom when you use this lesson plan for Thornton Wilder's classic play Our Town. This lesson plan will guide you through the many characters who inhabit Grover's Corner as well as offering assistance in presenting Wilder's themes regarding the meaning of life. Examples of guided discussion and study questions from this lesson plan include the following:
- What do you notice is different about Our Town as opposed to other plays you may be familiar with? Why do you think the author made these changes? The most obvious differences are the lack of much scenery or many props and the role of the stage manager as one who talks to the audience. We'll also see, as we progress, the lack of a real "plot" since the play is one simply describing ordinary life.
- What do Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Gibbs talk about after the children go off to school? They have an ordinary conversation about the weather and what each family is doing. The most important part of their conversation is about Mrs. Gibbs' being offered $350 for a piece of her furniture. This will come up again later at the end of the play when we find out that she did in fact sell the furniture and get the money, never went to Europe, and willed the money to Emily and George.
- What do George and Rebecca talk about just before they go to sleep? They talk about the moon. Rebecca thinks it is getting closer; George tells her that if it were, someone would tell them. Then, Rebecca tells George about a letter with a strangely written address.
- "Everybody has a right to their own troubles." Explain. Dr. and Mrs. Gibbs have to mind their own business and let the children live their own lives. Right or wrong, full of mistakes or not, people have the right to make their own decisions and a right to work through their lives as they see fit. In a sense, troubles could be seen in the context of this play as some of those little things people don't appreciate.
- Emily says, "I never realized before how troubled and how . . . how in the dark live persons are." Explain. People get so busy with their own thoughts, ambitions and problems that they don't take time to open themselves up to try to see, understand and appreciate everything in the world.
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