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a thousand years from now—this is the way we were in the provinces
north of New York at the beginning of the twentieth century.—This
is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in
our living and in our dying.
The Stage Manager makes this declaration
in the middle of Act I. He has just discussed how historical documents
tend not to reveal much about the real lives of ordinary people
and has mentioned that he wants to put a copy of Our Town into
the time capsule alongside several more famous texts. The play,
he says, will reveal to future readers facts about human life other
than the Treaty of Versailles. The Stage Manager’s position of authority
within the play allows him to speak philosophically and articulate
Wilder’s own ideas. This quotation in particular clarifies Wilder’s
general intent in writing this play. Many dramas, the Stage Manager
implies, deal with moments of heightened emotion or rare events,
and many historical resources relate esoteric incidents. Our
Town, however, addresses daily events and traditional,
recognizable ceremonies. We witness through the Gibbs and Webb families
the full spectrum of human existence, from birth to marriage to
parenthood to death. The Stage Manager’s direct address to future
readers, the “people a thousand years from now,” suggests his wish
that Our Town persist as a source of information
about the importance of appreciating the simpler details in life.