Friday, February 01, 2008

Thornton Wilder-ness Safari Day 1: Undiscovered Country

I will name 4 American 20th Century playwrights and I want you to not think about their work but think of their personal lives:

Tennessee Williams
Arthur Miller
Eugene O'Neill
Thornton Wilder

I bet with the exception of a few Wilder fanatics and theater history buffs, you stumbled when you got to the bottom of the list.

While the names of Williams, Miller and O'Neill immediately bring their biography to mind as quickly as the titles of their works, Wilder's life is less well known.

In her introduction to The Skin of Our Teeth playwright Paula Vogel makes the point that of arguably the 4 most important playwrights of the 20th Century only Wilder is not weighed down with the psycho-biographical baggage of the other three.

If you were to look at Wilder's most famous play, Our Town, one might assume that he grew up in a town not dissimilar to Grover's Corners, New Hampshire. If you assumed that you would be wrong.

So here is todays assignment: (Did I mention this was going to be interactive?)

Someone tell me in the comments section where Thornton Wilder was born.

Tell me what foreign country Wilder and his siblings spent a significant amount of time in while growing up.

And for you eager googlers tell me what role did Thornton Wilder's father ask him not to play while attending high school and why? Follow this link for the answer.

Monday we will examine Our Town.

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