Describe the appearance and placement of the narrator at the outset of Our Town.Why does the film begin w/ this position?  How does it foreshadow the ending?

Expert Answers
mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The role calls for an older gentleman with a homespun wit. The stage directions say:

Presently the STAGE MANAGER, hat on and pipe in mouth enters and begins placing a table and three chairs down-stage left and a table and three chairs downstage right.

Our Town is metadrama.  It's a play about a play.  It's a blend of comedy and drama that is aware of itself.  It's about the past, present, and future.  About daily life, marriage, and death.  As such, who better to narrate than a kind of omniscient, omnipresent god, the Stage Manager?  He is not so much the star of the play, but an intermediary between the actors and the audience.  He starts on the outside, speaking to the audience, and moves into each act by playing minor roles, speaking to the actors.  He can freeze time, fast forward, or go back to when Emily was a little girl.  He helps us see and hear the dead.  In fact, as soon as characters are introduced in Act I, the Stage Manager will tell us how they will die, foreshadowing the theme of Act III.

So, the play is not a mystery or a tragedy or a comedy.  It's about the eternal human condition.  The Stage Manager knows us better than we know ourselves because he's seen the best mysteries, tragedies, and comedies in the best place to see them--the theater.  The theater is a utopia, the perfect vantage point from which to comment upon our brief lives that we too often take for granted.