Welcome to ‘Our Town’



From left to rightAndrea Yagher ’20 and Ari Yaron ’18 run through lines. Students prepare to be in “Our Town,” a metatheatrical play with a minimalist set. The show will take place in early February.

Caty Szeto

Rehearsals are underway for the upcoming winter play “Our Town,” will take place Feb. 1-3 in Rugby Auditorium.
“Our Town” is a metatheatrical play that follows the storyline of a young couple, Emily and George, and their daily lives in the small town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire.
The play’s lead character, the Stage Manager, guides the audience as they watch the young couple grow up, get married and eventually pass away.
Students began the audition process in late October, where they participated in a ten minute interview with performing arts teacher and director of the play Ted Walch.
Walch resumed the casting process with a second round of auditions and meetings with the actors during the second week of November.
The final cast of 29 students gathered for their first rehearsal the following week.
This will be Walch’s fourth time putting on the play at Harvard-Westlake over his 53 years at the school. The last production was in 2010.
Walch made the decision to do the play again both out of his own personal affinity for the show as well as his belief that “Our Town” is a play that everyone should be exposed to.
“I think it speaks to such universal truths in such a simple and beautiful way, that every generation should know about it,” Walch said.
One aspect that Walch said he admires about the play is its ability to welcome the audience into the storyline in an easy and natural way.
“The play kind of sneaks up on you because it starts in just the most ordinary of ways.” Walch said. “This play is truly about the dailyness of life, about the ordinary pleasures of life, about the simple things in life.”
As a testimony to the play’s ability to speak to audiences, “Our Town” is the only play written by an American that has been produced somewhere every day since it was written 80 years ago, Walch said.
Another unique characteristic of the play is its metatheatrical nature, where the Stage Manager breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly during the play. Rather than acting as a character from the times of the main storyline, he acts more as a representative of the audience to actively invite them into the story.
The rehearsal process for the play began mid-November and has since been an extensive and intensive project, according to Walch.
Over the last month and a half, the actors followed a packed rehearsal schedule, working on both group scenes as well as individual moments. Walch estimates that by the time the show opens, the cast will have spent around 100 hours in rehearsal alone.
This process for “Our Town” has been particularly intense compared to past productions, due to the loss of time from the fires in December. With the closure of school for two days along with mid-year assessments and winter break, the cast has been away from the play for almost a month. However, Walch is not concerned as he feels that his cast is quite strong and can quickly get back on their feet.
“They’re on top of it,” he said. “So much so, that I’m giving them the semester break weekend off, where ordinarily would have rehearsed over that weekend.”
Also helping out with preparations for the show are two of Walch’s former students turned colleagues, one of them a Harvard-Westlake graduate.
Both are professional designers and have come to assist in the production’s set and light design.
“It’s just a confluence of events that made this all possible,” Walch said. “If you’ve seen this set that’s going up, it’s wonderful.”
‘Our Town’ is set to open the first week of February in Rugby Auditorium.
The show will run for three days from the first to the third.