On October 13 the curtain will open on a play not produced at Yuba College since the 1950s. This is the first time David Wheeler, veteran play director and teacher at the college, has directed “Our Town.”
The play by Thorton Wilder, which Wheeler calls a “classic American play,” was written in 1938 and is set in 1901. The play won a Pulitzer Prize the year it was published, reflecting a simpler time of 37 years past. Looking back on the year the play is set in, the viewer becomes aware that a whole century has passed, and almost all aspects of American life have changed.
“It’s interesting to look at how many things have changed,” said Wheeler, “but how many things are still the same.”
Wheeler is directing what he calls a “superior” and “very strong” cast of 32, composed of people he has previously worked with, taught in his theatre class and even some college faculty and staff.
No stranger to working with a large cast, Wheeler once worked as chorus stage manager at the San Francisco Opera, handling up to 200 people at once. “Our Town” is being performed this spring in conjunction with “The Laramie Project” by Moises Kaufman, a play concerning the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. Despite the grim subject, Wheeler said it’s not really about Shepard’s death, but rather an exploration of the town of Laramie.
“The Laramie Project” is a contrast to the period in which “Our Town” is set, but they both paint a portrait of a small town and the people within it, providing a look at the ideals of a nation a hundred years past, and how it has grown and diversified.
Opening October 12, the play will run October 13, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. On October 21 and 28, both Sundays, performances are scheduled at 2 p.m. General admission is seven dollars for every performance, four dollars for students and seniors, except for the performance on October 13, as it is part of the Cultural Events Series. All tickets for October 13 are seven dollars.
Tickets for “Our Town,” available since September 28, can be purchased at the Cashier’s office on campus, or on the night of the performance.
Considering the recent events unfolding he adds that this production seems appropriate. Yuba College is “for once doing a play that is optimistic and provides hope,” Wheeler said. “I can’t think of a better play to do.”