The effects of Pantomiming in Our Town

In the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder, we are introduced to the small fictional town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. In this town we are introduced to two main families, the Webb’s and the Gibbs’ with other contributing characters throughout the three acts of the play. Like that of how typical life goes, we are shown the previous life of how the characters live, the future to what the characters grow into, and also what happens to the characters as they pass away. In this realistic and highly relatable play, the viewers experience a dramatic technique known as pantomiming.

At the opening of the play, the script reads that the stage is set with “no curtain” and “no scenery” (5). Immediately, from the first two lines, the audience, or if reading the script the reader, can infer that the act of pantomime is going to be a prevalent tactic in this play. The characters utilize little to no props or stage equipment and rely heavily on gestures or “pretending”  to express the meaning of what they are attempting to convey to the viewer or reader of the script. Thornton writes, giving stage directions to the reader “Howie Newsome, about thirty, in overalls, comes along Main Street from the left, walking beside an invisible horse and wagon carrying an imaginary rack with milk bottles.” (11). This is one of the first times in the play that we are exposed to a great deal of pantomiming. The effect that these acts of pantomiming has on the play itself is that it allows the viewers or readers to interpret the play in different ways and does not clearly explain each small detail to the audience.

In this play, the stage manager portrays the characters in ways that are extremely relatable. Our Town is well written and a play divided into three acts which exemplifies the main three stages of life which are youth, middle age, and death.

Works Cited

Thornton, Wilder. Our Town. 1938.

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