By Elizabeth Howard
Why does Thornton Wilder’s Our Town — set in an “all-white, patriarchal, Protestant, semi-rural small town in New England” — fill theaters and engage audiences around the world more than 80 years on? That is the question Howard Sherman, theater manager and writer, explored in his 2021 book Another Day’s Begun: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in the 21st Century.
Why is Our Town being performed in November at the recently restored Colonial Theater in Laconia, New Hampshire? Bryan Halperin, the co-producer and director of the Colonial Theatre’s production of Our Town, running November 19 through 21, explains why he selected the play, his casting choices, the renovation of the Colonial, and the role the arts are playing in bringing the community of Laconia together.
In this episode of the Short Fuse Podcast, Halperin and Sherman talk about the enduring power of Our Town with host Elizabeth Howard.
Bryan Halperin is a co-founder and Producer of Powerhouse Theatre Collaborative, a new program of The Belknap Mill in Laconia, NH and the resident theater company of the Colonial Theatre in Laconia. Previously he was co-founder of The Winnipesaukee Playhouse. From 2004 through 2014 Halperin was Executive Director of the Playhouse. Besides his managerial duties he assisted the Artistic Director in the selection of the plays performed in the professional summer stock and winter community and youth theater productions. Halperin directed productions at all levels, acted in several community theater productions, and wrote several youth theater productions. He has written several plays and musicals, for both children and adults. Halperin’s play The Hairy Man won the 2019 Pestalozzi Prize at the Firehouse Center for the Arts, was a semi-finalist for the Premiere Play Festival in 2019, and in 2020 was a finalist at the JetFest. For three years he was the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Theatre Awards, and for the past eight years he has directed the local Middle/High School drama program. As a director Halperin has won 6 NH Theater Awards and been runner-up numerous other times.
Howard Sherman is the author of Another Day’s Begun: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in the 21st Century, published by Methuen Drama. He has been executive director of the American Theatre Wing and the O’Neill Theatre Center, managing director of Geva Theatre, general manager of Goodspeed Musicals, and public relations director of Hartford Stage. He is the US columnist for The Stage newspaper in London. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, American Theatre, Encore Monthly, and LitHub, among many others. @hesherman on Twitter, Facebook and Insta. www.hesherman.com
Elizabeth Howard is the host and the producer of the Short Fuse Podcast. For her, there are no barriers between her life, work, art, and writing. She seeks collaboration, flexibility, spontaneity and responsiveness in the projects she designs and completes. As the host of the Short Fuse podcast she draws individuals into lively and provocative conversations around the arts: dance, theater, literature, music, and film.
Alex Waters is a media producer and editor for the Short Fuse Podcast, a music producer, and Berklee College of Music student. He has written and produced music and edited for podcasts such as The Faith and Chai Podcast and Con Confianza. He produces his own, as well as writes music and records for independent artists such as The Living. Alex lives in Brooklyn. You can reach him with inquiries by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Short Fuse Podcast is produced by the Arts Fuse. Email: email@example.com
The Arts Fuse was established in June, 2007 as a curated, independent online arts magazine dedicated to publishing in-depth criticism, along with high quality previews, interviews, and commentaries. The publication’s over 60 freelance critics (many of them with decades of experience) cover dance, film, food, literature, music, television, theater, video games, and visual arts.