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April  13, 2011

Theater season culminates with Our Town performance

The Augustana College Department of Theatre Arts will ends its 2010-11 season with a production of Thornton Wilder's American classic, Our Town. The play will run two consecutive weekends beginning Friday, April 29 and ending on Sunday, May 8. All performances are in the Potter Theatre at the Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts (3701 7th Ave.)

            Our Town is set in the fictional town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, in the early 1900s and follows the everyday joys and trials of the town's citizens. The main character of the stage manager, who serves as the narrator, makes comments on the action and plays roles as needed within the town. The play was first performed in 1938 and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama that year.

            Jacqui Schmidt, a theatre arts and English writing major, is excited to play the role of the stage manager. The character is interesting because he-or she, in the case of Augustana's production-directly interacts with the audience and the characters onstage. "I sometimes have to present a male character," Schmidt said. "This allows a contemporary take on what the gender roles would have been during the early 1900s in a small town like Grover's Corners."

            Augustana's production gives some new twists to the timeless play. Whereas the stage manager is usually a contemporary of the play's characters, the Augustana stage manager will be observing the play from a modern perspective. "The narrator's commentary is not just nostalgic reflection," said Jeff Coussens, the play's director and the chair of the theatre arts department. "We ask the audience to look at the past through a contemporary lens."

            In keeping with the theatre season, Reflections, the production will invite the audience to reflect on how times change, yet how much remains the same. Simple lighting, minimal scenery and timeless costumes will emphasize this theme. Members of the 1989 cast of Our Town at Augustana also will return for the April 30 performance to discuss the changes in the production since they performed it more than 20 years ago.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29, Saturday, April 30, Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7; and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 1 and Sunday, May 8. Tickets are $11 for the general public and $9 for senior citizens (age 60+), students and children. For ticket information, please call (309) 794-7306 or visit

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833