The Theatre School brings community with first production

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DePaul University has a new kid on the block, a massive 169,000 square foot building with pristine white walls and a glowing marquee to welcome its visitors from far and wide. Through the glass-paneled doors, students wander excitedly, their chatter carrying throughout the halls.

But as The Theatre School prepares to christen the new building with its first performance of the year, faculty, staff, students, and alumni alike seek to acknowledge the past and celebrate the present through Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.”

“Our Town,” a play very much rooted in celebrating the here and now, was an intentional choice on the part of the creative team working on the production.

“The play is a time capsule,” said Dexter Bullard, Artistic Director of The Theatre School Showcase. “We can move on, but we never forget.”

“Our Town” tells the story of Emily Webb, a woman who lives her whole life and at the end is given the chance to go back and look at what she missed. A major theme in the play is the importance of living in the moment, which is exactly what The Theatre School is hoping to do through this performance.

“This building is going to be here for hundreds of years,” said Damon Kiely, the director of the production. “This thing will outlast us. But here is this moment in time, that we can celebrate the town that is The Theatre School.”

The Theatre School’s production not only features current students, but faculty, staff, and alumni.

“People who have worked here for 25 years, are getting on stage for the first time,” said Kiely. In Act Three, the cast will be joined each night by special guest alumni, including W. Earl Brown, Gillian Anderson, Tom Amandes and John C. Reilly.

“We are a school very much tied to our alumni,” said Catherine Miller, the dramaturge for the production. “The connection to DePaul has always been there.”

In bringing back alumni, the production aims to further enforce the sense of community the faculty, staff, and students have fostered over the past 88 years since the founding in 1925.

Although “Our Town” has been performed more than 4,000 times in the past ten years, The Theatre School’s performance will certainly be all its own. From its days as the Goodman Theatre School all the way to opening night on the Fullerton stage, the community aspires to add to the legacy of its more than 85 years of dedication to the arts, both on and off stage.