Our Town – Director’s Notes

The Blog


September 27, 2022 | By Eli Cunningham

Our Town – Director’s Notes

For every Mainstage Season show, we ask the director to share their thoughts, inspirations, or research about the show. We include these notes in the playbill, but why wait to read until you’re sitting in the theatre? It’s a great way to get insight into the show before you see it!

Find tickets and more info here: Our Town

Director’s Notes by Robert Arleigh White


And thank you!

I am deeply grateful for the warm welcome you have extended to me – for the generosity you share with me daily – as I explore my new community and fall more deeply in love with my new town.

Among the many things that attracted me to this place, this theatre, and to the role of Artistic Director is the idea of community that is firmly held by Asheville Community Theatre. It’s an idea that compels ACT to strive earnestly to understand the broad and personal implications for celebrating everyone.

And this work – right here, right now – is important.

It is this idea of community – that our town and our stage should be a welcoming place for everyone – that inspired the thinking of a host of volunteers, theatricians, and stakeholders to explore artistically what each of us is trying to understand with more clarity as we attempt to emerge with more and greater confidence from the hidey-holes of our pandemic experience.

It is the commitment to the idea of community that yielded the roster of shows that we are proud to offer to you in this, our 76th season of play production. And it is why Thornton Wilder’s classic play, Our Town, was chosen to lead the string of community-minded productions that we offer to you in this new year.

Our Town is noted for its universality, its enduring classicism, and its aspiration to connect both broadly and personally. The community of Our Town players who you will meet tonight has worked with real intention, thoughtfulness, and creativity to tell this story in a new way.

By that, I mean we wondered together:

What if Our Town could look and feel like our town – the place where we all live and work and play – today? What if we showed each other how we see this town? What if we discovered each other in our process? What if we told this old story with some new voices? What might it feel like to do these things?

We agreed together, too.

Our first agreement was to take inspiration from Asheville – its places, its people, its vibe, and values and visions – as our town.

Our next agreement was to keep the language of the play intact. This is essential for discovering if our experiment has merit: that the play is universal enough to excite our interests and passions.

Another agreement was to keep Emily’s famous monolog at the end of the play – where she discovers and expresses gratitude for the lovely little moments that give meaning to her life – at the forefront of our thinking at all times. We took time to share things we are grateful for in our own lives and in our town at our rehearsals.

The process, as embraced by this company, has been awe-inspiring and humbling. The actors worked in new ways to understand this old American play. That they did so whole-heartedly is brave: it’s chancy and peculiar. It’s easy and hard. It’s weird and comfortable and fun and scary.

And it goes beyond the actors. Every single person who collaborated on this play has been intentional, artful, and full of grace. Everyone made space for everyone.

And that is what we all want for our town.

We are honored that you’ve chosen to be with us today. Perhaps you will take some comfort from your visit with a familiar story. Perhaps you will discover something new. This is what we want – to welcome you to Our Town.


Tickets for Our Town are available for purchase! Click here or stop by our Box Office, open Tuesdays-Fridays 10:00 pm – 4:00 pm. See you at the theatre!

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