As I was taking “Scout” my Border-Collie, Australian-Shepard- cross down to Greenough Park this morning for our daily saunter, I passed Eric Palmer putting some electrical supplies into his truck, I passed Amanda Pollard with her retriever coming out of the park, and I saw a young boy kneeling on the corner sidewalk tying his shoes next to a stack of books. I thought of OUR TOWN by Thornton Wilder, and how we all go about our daily lives regardless on national and international news, good or bad. I felt the profound sense of what it means to be an American at this time and place. I thought of this as Scout and I walked over bridges and across frost covered meadows watching the fog lift off Rattlesnake Creek. Upon leaving the park, ascending the hill towards home, I thought of another Thornton Wilder play: THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH, a haunting parable on the human condition. In it, the Antribus family progresses through history, apparently repeating the follies that human nature is prone to. At this particular time in our history we are reminded of human frailty, folly and the repetition of patterns in our own culture. We ask “are we progressing or not? Is the bright promise of America being fulfilled?” As we struggle to answer these questions we are reminded of the great playwrights like Wilder who seek to light our way.
It is in this spirit we look to The Montana Repertory Theatre’s 50th anniversary season and our GALA party coming up January 20th. We will be celebrating five decades of bringing quality theatre to our audiences, and for the past twenty-five years, nationally. Significant to this discussion is the nature of the plays. The Montana Rep produces plays from the great American tradition. These plays, by the very best American writers, from Thornton Wilder to Arthur Miller, to Tennessee Williams, to Neil Simon and William Inge and Harper Lee, are the very bread and butter of the company.
We have been telling America’s story: examining, studying, exposing and celebrating the American character in all its multi-faceted aspirations and imperfections. For as Wilder teaches us, we are a marvelous brood of very different types, characters, dreams and flaws, who keep going on, in the belief that we are a good, imperfect, mistake prone, often selfish and unseeing tribe, but in the end, bending to the best in us. This optimism is very important for us to be reminded of these days and why we are so delighted to be offering Neil Simon’s heartfelt paean to young love with our national touring production of BAREFOOT IN THE PARK.
The GALA opening to which you all invited is on January 20th , the very day the 45th president of The United States will be inaugurated. It is fitting therefor that we end that day with a celebration of all that brings us together as Americans, the common causes we all strive for as we move forward, however imperfectly, towards an America that celebrates life, love and each other.
Hope to see you all January 20th for BAREFOOT IN THE PARK and our big party.
The Montana Repertory Theatre