XENIA — The Xenia Area Community Theater will begin its 2014-15 10th Anniversary season with Thornton Wilder’s timeless classic, “Our Town” at the Kettering Health Network Theater Sept. 5-14.
Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, which premiered in 1938, has been produced countless times from high school to professional stages, but perhaps never before utilizing a large, multimedia screen, portraits of local history and a bridging of the community with the play’s setting.
“What makes ‘Our Town’ so powerful is its universal themes of life and death; the miracles we dismiss as ‘ordinary life,’ ” says director Mike Taint. “There is nothing ordinary about life. By placing the action right here in Xenia, I hope we can really strike that message home.”
Taint got the idea of incorporating Xenia’s early days into the play while visiting Petersborough, NH, the town Wilder used as his “model” for Grover’s Corners.
“I was struck that the town wasn’t at all what I imagined from having done the play,” Taint said. “It was exactly like the small towns in Greene County: Xenia, Jamestown, Yellow Springs. You could literally lift the town up, plop it down into Ohio and it would fit right in.” So that is exactly what Taint did. He took Grover’s Corner’s and “plopped” it into Ohio.
The three-act play tells the story of an average town’s citizens in the early 1900’s and has always been performed without a set or the use of props. It follows daily life: love, marriage, death and dying, focusing on the households of two of Grover’s Corners families. Wilder was once quoted as saying, “Our claim, our hope, our despair are in the mind - not in things, not in scenery.” And although Taint’s vision is unique to the production, he has made sure Wilder’s message still comes through - as it has since 1938.
Patrons will get to see the scenes of Xenia of the early twentieth century onstage as Wilder’s story unfolds. The X*ACT Gallery will also feature an art contest featuring Scenes of Xenia at the same time.
An Opening Night GALA is scheduled for Friday, September 5 and will offer a wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres. Tickets for the GALA are $20. All other performances are $17 general admission, $12 for seniors and students and are available by calling X*ACT at 937-372-0516 or by visiting www.XeniaACT.org.