The Azusa Renaissance Theater Company and APU’s Department of Theater, Film, and Television came together this summer to produce Our Town, a three-act play written by Thornton Wilder. The cast not only included APU alumni and current students, but surrounding neighbors as well.
The Azusa Renaissance is a community cultural development project that encourages the expression of human creativity, cultivates community connection, and recognizes the importance of telling and hearing local stories. In 2006, APU Theater adopted the Azusa Renaissance, which is now seeking to combine APU students with community members of all ages, to enrich the area through a variety of theatrical experiences.
Working in community, the Azusa Renaissance allows people from various backgrounds to come together in spite of their differences. The process of preparing for the show shifts focus from self onto neighbor, and equips APU students with the skills and experience to work alongside people from other communities outside their own. “It’s fun to see them,” said Brittany Bond ’12, a theater arts major who participated in the production of Our Town. “We can learn as much from them as they do from us.”
Our Town profiles an average town’s citizens in everyday life, and is set in the early 20th century. It promotes the underlying message of living life to the fullest and realizing that every moment is precious. The cast successfully kept the 20th century vibe, while still creating connections with today’s culture to make it relevant to everyone watching.
Keeping true to the original set and limited props, the audience was transported to Grover’s Corner, the main town and setting of the whole play, giving them a way to be immersed in the scenes and feel the actors’ emotions. By having the characters mime objects instead of using props, the production fostered free-flowing imagination.
With the play’s diverse cast, the actors formed a bond through theater, providing the audience an enlightening example of a true sense of community that was real, not just acted. “It was inspiring to see all the members come together through a common interest,” said Brianne Martin ’13, an English major. “They were able to show me community and I was able to feel connected throughout the play.”
Our Town is a great example of APU’s community cornerstone. It enabled students to interact with the local community and build encouraging, caring, and Christ-centered relationships. With Azusa Renaissance and APU Theater working together, Our Town was a reminder to appreciate the connections made in life and to cherish each moment.