The Hippo


Jul 23, 2019








Thornton Wilder on the deck of The SS Britannic, returning to the United States, 1935. Photo used with permission from the Wilder Family LLC.

 Third International Thornton Wilder Conference 

When: Thursday, July 12, through Saturday, July 14
Where: Monadnock Center for History and Culture, 19 Grove St., Peterborough 
Cost: Free admission for up to three sessions per person. A pass to attend all sessions is $150. 
Sessions schedule 
Thursday, July 12
9 a.m.: Life of Wilder (“Louise Talma and Thornton Wilder: A Match Made at MacDowell;” “Dorothy and Professor Wilder: From University of Chicago Student to Lifelong Friend;” and “Wilder in the West”)  
10:15 a.m.: Our Town I (“Celebrating Our Town at 50: My Post Modern Production ... That Worked!;” “New Faces in Our Town: Building Community Through Participatory Theatre;” and “‘That’s What It Was to Be Alive:’ The Significant of Seconds in Thornton Wilder’s Theology”) 
11:15 a.m.: Novels I (“You, Me and God: An Address to the Read in The Bridge of San Luis Rey;” “New Audiences: Bringing Thornton Wilder Into New Spaces;” and “George Brush as an American Marxist in Heaven’s My Destination”) 
2 p.m.: A Virtual Tour of Yale’s Wilder Collection 
3:15 p.m.: The Skin of Our Teeth (“The Call of Cain: The Thematic and Structural Relationship Between Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth and Albee’s A Delicate Balance;” “George Antrobus: Genius in a Name;” and “The Evolution of Thornton Wilder’s Stage Manager: Sabina in The Skin of Our Teeth”)
4:15 p.m.: Wilder as a Scholar (“Wilder on Greek Tragedy;” “Thornton Wilder’s Study of Lope de Vega: New Materials;” and “Wilder’s Modernism, Tradition, and the Transfiguration of the Mundane”) 
8 p.m.; Christmas in July (reading of Wilder’s one-act play The Long Christmas Dinner, followed by a discussion, “Wilder and the One-Act Play”) 
Friday, July 13 
9 a.m.: Lesser-known Wilder (“Rivers Under the Earth: Wilder’s Psychoanalytic Primer for the Stage;” “Young Wilder’s Journals: The Case of Writing The Acolyte;” and “In Signing Not to Sign: A Budding Playwright at Work on A Doll’s House”)
10:15 a.m.: Our Town II (“Friedrich Nietzsche Explains Why Our Town Works;” “Who’s Depressed in Our Town?;” and “The Concept of Home in Our Town, Homecoming, and Other Plays”) 
11:15 a.m.: Whither Wilder (A discussion of some of the perennial questions that bedevil Wilder studies: Where does Wilder fit in? Does it matter?) 
12:30 p.m.: The State of the Wilder World 
8 p.m.: Peterborough Players present The Skin of Our Teeth 
Saturday, July 14 
9 a.m.: Teaching Our Town (“An American Town: Grover’s Corners in the 21st Century Classroom;” “Teaching Our Town in a New Hampshire High School;” and “Our Town in the Middle School Classroom”) 
10:15 a.m.: Novels II (“Reflexivity in Wilder’s Theophilus North;” “Teaching The Ides of March in the 21st Century;” “Wilder’s Brother Juniper: Tragic Hero or Merely a Tragic Life”)
11:15 a.m.: Wilder’s Film, Farce & One Acts (“Shadows of Doubt: Thornton Wilder and the Creation of Alfred Hitchcock’s American Gothic;” “The Matchmaker and Thornton Wilder’s Notion of the Farce;” and “Brightness is Seeing in a New Way: Thornton Wilder, John Dewey, Experience, and The Roots of American Avant-Garde”)
2 p.m.: Wilder Teaches Directing (presentation of five plays by Suffolk University students followed by discussion of directorial imagination contained in those plays) 
3:15 p.m.: Adapting Wilder (“From Playlet to Pocket Opera;” “It Kept Me In Martinis’: Reflections on a Musical Adaptation of Our Town for Live TV;” and “Theophilus North, the Play”)
4:30 p.m.: Acting Wilder (panel of professional actors in a long-term relationship with Wilder)

Together in “Our Town”
Thornton Wilder Conference comes to Peterborough


 By Angie Sykeny 
The Thornton Wilder Society has set its sights on Peterborough for the location of its third International Thornton Wilder Conference. 
For three days, Thursday, July 12, through Saturday, July 14, there will be presentations, roundtable conversations, panel discussions, readings and special events related to Wilder at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture. 
Wilder was an American playwright and novelist who lived from 1897 to 1975. He is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth and U.S. National Book Award-winning novel The Eighth Day. 
“Part of Wilder’s appeal is that his writing is universal,” Rosey Strub, manager of The Wilder Family, said. “He writes about larger themes, but has a unique way of zeroing in on tiny details and everyday life in a way that allows people living anywhere, of any age, to find significance.” 
Thirty-three presenters, including leading scholars and theater professionals from around the globe, will participate in the conference. 
Lecture and discussion topics will include Wilder’s plays and novels, personal life and scholarly work; Wilder’s legacy and place in today’s world; Wilder in theater and film; and teaching Wilder’s works to young people. 
Other conference highlights will include a reading of Wilder’s one-act play The Long Christmas Dinner, a virtual tour of the extensive Wilder Collection at Yale’s Beinecke Library and directorial demonstrations of five Wilder plays by Suffolk University students. 
Additionally, the Peterborough Players have coordinated their production of Wilder’s play The Skin of Our Teeth to coincide with the conference, with showtimes on Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. (tickets are $42 at 
“This year, as opposed to previous years, there are a lot more performative moments in the conference,” Strub said. “There’s a nice mix of scholarly presentations and panel discussions, with performances that add another layer to the dialogue.” 
Peterborough was chosen as the location for this year’s conference because of its connection to Wilder; Wilder held residencies at the prestigious MacDowell Colony, an artists’ colony in Peterborough, and did much of his writing there, including long sections of The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town. In 1960, the Colony gave him the inaugural Edward MacDowell Medal, an award that recognizes artists of all media who have made outstanding contributions to American culture and arts. 
It is widely speculated that Grover’s Corners, the fictional town in which Our Town is set, was inspired by Peterborough. 
“There are definitely landmarks referenced throughout the play like Mount Monadnock and Jaffrey and lots of areas around there that can lead one to draw that conclusion,” Strub said. “On the surface, it’s about Peterborough, but really, it’s about life, love, marriage and death. It’s a small town that becomes the world.”  

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