Grade: all
Subject: Literature

#2106. Remake of Our Town

Literature, level: all
Posted Mon Jan 15 08:44:48 PST 2001 by Holly Dunlea (
Pembroke Academy, Pembroke, NH
Materials Required: creative, open minds
Activity Time: 1 month, work on this as time permits
Concepts Taught: understanding Wilder's style, effective playwriting and stage direction

My students read Our Town and discussed Wilder's style, society at that time, and compared it to other literary works we had studied. I gave my students a challenge: "Write you own Our Town play as a class. Create a setting with which you are all familiar, characters, problems and solutions. Write a script complete with staging, lighting, and sound directions. Make invitations, practice, and perform the play for an audience of at least 2 classes. 'Slackers' will be pulled from the project and required to write a play on their own. The class is also required to keep a calendar in order to stay on track and complete the project on time. This is a student wirtten and directed play."

After the ideas for the play were finalized, I taught the students about play-writing, staging, blocking, lighting and directing (one lesson). The class handled this assignment beautifully. They thoroughly understood Wilder's play and style by the end of the project. They learned about collaboration, cooperation, and they took pride in their writing. Invitations and programs were made. The audience laughed and sighed at various parts of the play confirming the success of the story line. My students said this project was hard (collaboration), but they loved doing it (pride). If you try this, give your students time to make mistakes. I tried not to comment during class discussions. My comments usually came at the end or beginning of a 1/2 hour session as a way of wrapping up or reminder of what they had planned to accomplish.

Assessment was done on a daily basis using an observational form I had from a workshop. It was required that students attend class on the day of the play. One student was going to be unable to, so he wrote his own play. One student was frequently absent, so she wrote her own play. Another student was slacking, and he wrote a play and made the invitations and program. I will be doing this again with other dramas.