Our Town (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Our Town (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.3 26
by Thornton Wilder

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Drama / 17m, 7f, extras / Bare Stage

In an important publishing event, Samuel French, in cooperation with the Thornton Wilder estate is pleased to release the playwright's definitive version of Our Town. This edition of the play differs only slightly from previous acting editions, yet it presents the version of Our Town as Thornton Wilder wished it performed.


Drama / 17m, 7f, extras / Bare Stage

In an important publishing event, Samuel French, in cooperation with the Thornton Wilder estate is pleased to release the playwright's definitive version of Our Town. This edition of the play differs only slightly from previous acting editions, yet it presents the version of Our Town as Thornton Wilder wished it performed. Described by Edward Albee as "...the greatest American play ever written," the story follows the small town of Grover's Corners through three acts: "Daily Life," "Love and Marriage," and "Death and Eternity." Narrated by a stage manager and performed with minimal props and sets, audiences follow the Webb and Gibbs families as their children fall in love, marry, and eventually-in one of the most famous scenes in American theatre-die. Thornton Wilder's final word on how he wanted his play performed is an invaluable addition to the American stage and to the libraries of theatre lovers internationally.

"While all of Wilder's work is intelligent, non-synthetic and often moving, as well as funny, it is Our Town that makes the difference. It is probably the finest play ever written by an American."
- Edward Albee

"Thornton Wilder's masterpiece...An immortal tale of small town morality [and]...a classic of soft spoken theater."
- The New York Times

Editorial Reviews

Brooks Atkinson
Taking as his material three periods in the history of a placid New Hampshire twon, Mr. Wilder has transformed the simple events of human life into universal reverie. He has given familiar facts a deeply moving, philosophical perspective...Our Town is one of the finest achievements of the current stage.

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Read an Excerpt

Act I

No curtain.

No scenery.

The audience, arriving, sees an empty stage in half-light.

Presently the Stage Manager, hat on and pipe in mouth, enters and begins placing a table and three chairs downstage left, and a table and three chairs downstage right.

He also places a low bench at the corner of what will be the Webb house, left.

"Left" and "right" are from the point of view of the actor facing the audience. "Up" is toward the back wall.

As the house lights go down be has finished setting the stage and leaning against the right proscenium pillar watches the late arrivals in the audience.

When the auditorium is in complete darkness he speaks:

Stage Manager:

This play is called "Our Town." It was written by Thornton Wilder; produced and directed by A. . . . (or: produced by A .... ; directed by B .... ). In it you will see Miss C .... ; Miss D .... ; Miss E .... ; and Mr. F .... ; Mr. G .... ; Mr. H .... ; and many others. The name of the town is Grover's Corners, New Hampshire-just across the Massachusetts line: latitude 42 degrees 40 minutes; longitude 70 degrees 37 minutes. The First Act shows a day in our town. The day is May 7, 190 1. The time is just before dawn.

A rooster crows.
The sky is beginning to show some streaks of light over in the East there, behind our mount'in.

The morning star always gets wonderful bright the minute before it has to go, -- doesn't it?

He stares at it for a moment, then goes upstage.

Well, I'd better show you how our town lies. Up here --

That is: parallel with theback wall.

is Main Street. Way back there is the railway station; tracks go that way. Polish Town's across, the tracks, and some Canuck families.

Toward the left.

Over there is the Congregational Church; across the street's the Presbyterian.

Methodist and Unitarian are over there.

Baptist is down in the holla' by the river.

Catholic Church is over beyond the tracks.

Here's the Town Hall and Post Office combined; jail's in the basement.

Bryan once made a speech from these very steps here.

Along here's a row of stores. Hitching posts and horse blocks in front of them. First automobile's going to come along in about five years -- belonged to Banker Cartwright, our richest citizen ... lives in the big white house up on the hill.

Here's the grocery store and here's Mr. Morgan's drugstore. Most everybody in town manages to look into those two stores once a day.

Public School's over yonder. High School's still farther over. Quarter of nine mornings, noontimes, and three o'clock afternoons, the hull town can hear the yelling and screaming from those schoolyards.

He approaches the table and chairs downstage right.

This is our doctor's house, -- Doc Gibbs'. This is the back door.

Two arched trellises, covered with vines and flowers, are pushed out, one by each proscenium pillar.

There's some scenery for those who think they have to have scenery.

This is Mrs. Gibbs' garden. Corn ... peas ... beans ... hollyhocks ... heliotrope ... and a lot of burdock.

Crosses the stage.

In those days our newspaper come out twice a week-the Grover's Corners Sentinel -- and this is Editor Webb's house.

And this is Mrs. Webb's garden.

Just like Mrs. Gibbs', only it's got a lot of sunflowers, too.

He looks upward, center stage.

Right here . . . 's a big butternut tree.

He returns to his place by the right proscenium pillar and looks at the audience for a minute.

Nice town, y'know what I mean?

Nobody very remarkable ever come out of it, s'far as we know.

The earliest tombstones in the cemetery up there on the mountain say 1670-1680 -- they're Grovers and Cartwrights and Gibbses and Herseys -- same names as are around here now.

Well, as I said: it's about dawn.

The only lights on in town are in a cottage over by the tracks where a Polish mother's just had twins. And in the Joe Crowell house, where Joe Junior's getting up so as to deliver the paper. And in the depot, where Shorty Hawkins is gettin' ready to flag the 5:45 for Boston.

A train whistle is heard. The Stage Manager takes out his watch and nods.
Naturally, out in the country -- all around -- there've been fights on for some time, what with milkin's and so on. But town people sleep late.

So -- another day's begun.

There's Doc Gibbs comin' down Main Street now, comin' back from that baby case. And here's his wife comin' downstairs to get breakfast.

Mrs. Gibbs, a plump, pleasant woman in the middle thirties, comes 'downstairs" right. She pulls up an imaginary window shade in her kitchen and starts to make a fire in her stove.

Doc Gibbs died in 1930. The new hospital's named after him.

Mrs. Gibbs died first-long time ago, in fact. She went out to visit her daughter, Rebecca, who married an insurance man in Canton, Ohio, and died there -- pneumonia -- but her body was brought back here. She's up in the cemetery there now-in with a whole mess of Gibbses and Herseys -- she was Julia Hersey 'fore she married Doc Gibbs in the Congregational Church over there.

In our town we like to know the facts about everybody.

There's Mrs. Webb, coming downstairs to get her breakfast, too.

-- That's Doc Gibbs. Got that call at half past one this morning.

And there comes Joe Crowell, Jr., delivering Mr. Webb's Sentinel.

Dr. Gibbs has been coming along Main Street from the left. At the point where be would turn to approach his house, be stops, sets down his -- imaginary -- black bag, takes off his bat, and rubs his face with fatigue, using an enormous handkerchief.

Mrs. Webb, a thin, serious, crisp woman, has entered her kitchen, left, tying on an apron. She goes through the motions of putting wood into a stove, lighting it, and preparing breakfast.

Our Town. Copyright © by Thornton Wilder. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are saying about this

Brooks Atkinson
"Taking as his material three periods in the history of a placid New Hampshire town, Mr. Wilder has transmuted the simple events of human life into universal reverie. He has given familiar facts a deeply moving, philosophical perspective... Our Town is one of the finest achievements of the current stage."

Meet the Author

Thornton Wilder (1897–1975) was an accomplished novelist and playwright. His many honors include three Pulitzer Prizes, the National Book Award, the Gold Medal for Fiction of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Book Committee's Medal for Literature.

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Our Town 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For one I love to read but when a book is boring I stop reading.I also judge by the cover but this was a misgudgement of mine.This play was so interesting. There was no moment where i was bored or uninterested.This book includes a great theory of death read it and youll figure it out.Death is extremely important in this play so pay close attention and dont get distracted because things change in a heart beat.I love the way its a play within a play.I highly recomend this play if you are looking for great american literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This play has affected my life more than any other single piece of literature. I think that if you read it and see what it means, every day of your life can be more meaningful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I decided to read Our Town because my school was going to perform it. The time Skips areound a little but the play is awsome. I really got involved with the characters. It really made me think. I loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely incredible. If you really take the time to think about what is going on, this play has alot of meaning. I especially liked the last scene where Emily realizes her own death, what she has to deal with, and finally coming to terms with her final resting place. If you just think about the ending scene, it is really touching.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a truely great play. I recomend all watch or read it. The perspective it gives you will make you really pay attention to your life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
i enjoyed this play very much. it was a little confusing at some points but overall i think it was a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recentlly was a stage hand for this play at my high school. Even though I didn't cry during the third act, it was still very powerful. I'm glad I was a part of this play even though I wasn't acting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rilke wrote something like this: 'This is how we live our lives, as a man leaving his valley turns to survey all that he sees, so we live our lives, forever saying farewell.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Im a 10 grader at Orono High School. In my english class Im reading 'Our Town', and I think its a great play! I don't like reading that much, but this really is good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This play, like so many other fine works of literature, has gone generally underappreciated. Wilder's simplistic style helps to drive home the deeper meaning that so many of us overlook.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Our Town' by Throton Wilder is a great book and play that takes time to look at the simpler things in life that people often overlook in their daily hectic lives. 'Our Town' offers a refeshing and optimistic outlook on life, something that is truly needed in a society that cares only for materialistic goods and ambitions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
can u say boring?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book and the subsequent play and motion picture will probably carry more meaning with a mature audience than that of a young audience, especially in today's ultra-materialistic and hedonistic society. With a supreme nostalgic flair, it reflects on the lives of individuals in a very revealing way of human nature and while some may consider it 'unrealistic', I would have to say that it was extremely realistic for the time periods it covered. I found the book and the motion picture to be very emotionally moving and dramatically intense as it concerned the every day lives of decent, law-abiding human beings whose faith, sense of values, and reverence for life was revealed in many ways. It is unfortunate that many in today's society cannot see the tremendous value portrayed in this work. Thornton Wilder did a masterful job in this story of human endeavors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our Town is a very simplistic book. Very slow to start but has a great overall meaning and makes you fall in love with Emily Webb. My sister performed as Emily in a high school play and brought a whole new aspect to the play. If you are leary of reading the book...see the play!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the beginning was sorta boring and common. Then, once I got to the end I loved it. The theme is great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was going to be excellent. We started to read it in school but it was very boring and I lost interest in it. I didn't like how the book ended. I thought that it was a pointless ending. There were some quotes that really intrigued me though. One of the quotes were ¿Now there are some things we all know but we don¿t take¿m out and look at¿m very ofter. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain¿t houses and it ain¿t people.¿ Which was spoken by the stage manager. I thought that it really reflected life and I found it to be very interesting, but other than that the book wasn't all that good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our Town was on one hand a dream town, but on the other it was to unrealistic. Also the end was very odd, but also it was just the characters looking back on their lives. i just kind of lost interest when the dead were the main characters of the 3rd act.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The play was fantastic. Although I have read the book and watched the film, I like the play better. It was a great play to do my research project on and I would recoomend it to anyone. Especially skeptics like myself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
we read it in english, the themes and relationships between the characters are very interesting. the entire class really enjoyed this book
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story of George and Emily is one of the greatest tragedies ever written. It displays the concequenes of NOT seeing life for what it is. This weekend, we did the play at my school, and the end made me cry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I went into reading this play thinking it would be about a quiet, boring little New Hapshire town. I got the quiet part right. This is one of the best plays I have ever read. This is one of those books that I couldn't put down. I read it in one day. Though a quick and easy read, I loved it. Near the end it gets a little odd, but that's just an element of the storytelling. Read this play, see it, whatever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was good and that it gave a meaning to how some families lifestyles really are. He characterized everyone like someone he probably knew.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was really great i really enjoyed it... we did the play at school it was a great play..
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was good. It is obviously enough of a classic that the school board thought it would do for an AP English class to read an analyze. The characters were a little too innocent for me to believe though. But I guess that was just the time period. I found Mrs. Soaames delightful;. It was definitely a good read.