Even the play’s title—using the collective pronoun “[o]ur”—underscores the human desire for community. Many aspects of the play attest to the importance of community and companionship: the welcoming introduction from the Stage Manager; the audience participation, through the placement among the audience of actors within the audience who interact with those onstage; and the presence of numerous groups in the play, such as the choir, the wedding party, the funeral party, and the group of dead souls.

The Artificiality of the Theater

Wilder does not pretend that his play represents a slice of real life. The events that occur onstage could easily be moments in real lives—a milkman delivers milk, a family has a hurried weekday breakfast, two young people fall in love—but Wilder undermines this appearance of reality by filling the play with devices that emphasize the artificiality of theater. The Stage Manager is the most obvious of these devices, functioning as a sort of narrator or modernized Greek chorus who comments on the play’s action while simultaneously involving himself in it. The Stage Manager speaks directly to the audience and acknowledges our lack of familiarity with Grover’s Corners and its inhabitants. He also manipulates the passage of time, incorporating flashbacks that take us—and the characters—back in time to relive certain significant moments. These intentional disruptions of the play’s chronology prevent us from believing that what we see onstage could be real. Rather, the life we see on the stage becomes merely representative of real life, and is thus a fair target for Wilder’s metaphorical and symbolic manipulation. Wilder’s parallel positioning of the realm of the play and the real world implies a separation between the two. However, rather than distance the audience from the events on the stage, Wilder acknowledges the artificial nature of the stage and thus bridges the gap between the audience and the onstage events. This closeness between the audience and the story forces the audience to identify more fully with the characters and events.