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    • Matthew Segal ’24 and other cast enjoy rehearsal in the choir room.

    • The cast rehearses a scene in Act III.

“Goodbye World,” Hello Our Town

Grace Laliberte ’24 Arts Editor Jo Reymond ’26 Assistant Arts Editor
On October 19, 20, and 21 the Hopkins Drama Association performs the play Our Town, written by Thornton Wilder, at the Woodbridge Pool Club.
On October 19, 20, and 21 the Hopkins Drama Association performs the play Our Town, written by Thornton Wilder, at the Woodbridge Pool Club.  Director Hope Hartup relayed her wishes for audiences of the production: “I hope they connect with the stories that are being told, are thoughtful about the themes and messages, and I hope they appreciate all the hard work these young people have put into it and how passionate they are about trying to tell this story in the 21st Century.”

The play is an emotional story about human connection, and how life is often not appreciated while it is
experienced. Rose Robertson ’24, who plays lead Emily Webb, shared her feelings on the moral of the show: “Our Town has reminded me to cherish the most mundane of moments. A lifetime is really fleeting and it can be easy to feel like you’re checking boxes off on a list rather than really living, appreciating the people around you, or even feeling grateful for the familiarity of your daily routine.” Production Stage Manager Beyla Ridky ’24 shares this interpretation of the play: “[What] resonated with me most is the message of mortality and appreciation of life.” Silas Webb ’24, who plays George Gibbs, said, “At its core, the play tackles the ideas of love and growing up. I’ve always found there to be beauty in the simplicity and realism of Our Town.”

Throughout the rehearsal process, the actors have spent weeks delving into the experiences of their characters. Robertson said, “I play Emily from her preteen years to her mid-twenties, so I’m trying to subtly portray how she changes over that time.” Robertson explained the intensity of the play’s Third Act: “[Emily] has an emotional reckoning which has been a heavy moment to convey through my performance, but working in this character has been a defining process for me as an actor and I was honored to accept the challenge of portraying Emily honestly.” Similarly, Webb explained, “The more time I spend analyzing and exploring this character, the more I relate to him. He is overwhelmed by the pressures of adulthood and scared of growing up.” Webb added, “As a senior actively applying to colleges, I feel these same emotions daily. Playing George has resulted in lots of discoveries about who I am as a person, and I come to rehearsal every day grateful for the opportunity to take on such a fulfilling process.”

Subtle aspects of the play reinforce this theme of change over time. Ridky explained, “Each time we rehearse
Our Town, pieces click into place - the money from the furniture in act 1 becomes funds for a farm in act 3, the hymn at Emily’s wedding is the same as at her funeral, etc. it’s exciting! The ohhh I get it moments are some of my favorites.” With the ongoing renovation and expansion of Lovell, HDA’s performances have made a temporary switch to the Woodbridge Pool Club. Our Town is the second performance in this space, however, and the actors are feeling slightly more confident. Webb confirmed, “I feel more comfortable performing
in this space than I did last year.” Of course, there are still differences. Ridky shared that performing at the Pool Club is “still quite a procedure and [it’s] very disorienting to shift spaces.” However, Robertson pointed out that “a venue switch will certainly encourage spontaneity.” As Hartup comments, this change in the performance venue reflects themes within the show: “The idea is taking Wilder’s concept of metatheatricality and finding our own way to do it in our space.” She goes on to describe specific changes in the set: “This time we are hoping to move the first row of the audience forward, so that some of the action can happen in alleyways between the two rows of audience, again trying to be immersive and bring the audience in.” Despite challenges, Webb shared his excitement for performing in this space: “I am extremely grateful that we have a creative space to continue pushing our program in, and I can’t wait for opening night!”

Since Our Town is HDA’s first performance of the year, the cast and crew have expressed lots of anticipation
for the play. Ridky said, “[The] cast has so much energy and excitement and they make rehearsal so much fun. Everyone has come to Our Town willing and excited to work and play and it makes all the difference.” Robertson expanded on Ridky’s point: “It’s certainly different being in the cast as Seniors, and we’re welcoming the youngsters into HDA just like the previous Senior classes did for us. I think you’re likely to find the friendliest people on campus in HDA, and I’m so lucky to get to spend hours around all these living bundles of energy every day.” Hartup echoed this idea, saying, “The cast dynamic [...] is very connected to one another; I think they feel very supportive of each other.”

Ridky hopes that “the audience leaves with some of that same feeling of suspension [that the cast and crew
have seen in rehearsal] — that we’re never really going to appreciate all of life, but maybe art is how we try to.”
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