Thornton Wilder's seminal 1938 play Our Town is the story of a small New Hampshire community at the turn of the twentieth century. At first glance, it appears to be a simple three-act play about life, love, and death among a group of rural New England townsfolk. However, the play is actually a deep and complex meta-narrative about the characters in the play, the structure of the play itself, and the nature of theatre. The character known only as STAGE MANAGER guides us through the play, often breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing the audience. The play travels back and forth in time, leaping between the past, present, and future. Wilder specified in his stage directions that there is to be no set, no backdrops, no special effects, and no costumes.
Our Town is as much about making a play as it is about the story of the characters in it. The richness of the narrative comes entirely through dialog and the actors' portrayals of their characters. These compositions are enlargements of collages made from small sections of the script that represent key moments in each of the three acts. Each section was typeset and collaged by hand using various materials including glue, tape, and ink. The collages were then scanned and printed on oversize panels (2' x 10'), reminiscent of curtains behind the proscenium arch. The gestural, impulsive nature of collage is a response to the twists and turns of the narrative, and the analog nature of the early 1900s. Parallel to the way the characters evolve and reveal themselves in slivers over the course of the play, these compositions are visual metaphors providing a glimpse into the nature of the story.