Thornton Wilder celebrated on 125th anniversary of his birth

NEW YORK (AP) — Playwright and author Thornton Wilder is being honored in multiple ways during 2022, with new productions of his plays, the first-ever staging of an unfinished script and new editions of his works being published to mark the 125th anniversary of his birth.

Wilder (1897-1975) earned three Pulitzers during his career. The first was in 1928, for his novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” and the third was in 1942 for the play “The Skin of Our Teeth.” He is perhaps best known for the 1938 Pulitzer-winning play “Our Town,” about the preciousness of life’s everyday moments.

A highlight of the anniversary year will be the release of a new short documentary film, “Thornton Wilder: It’s Time,” on April 27 as part of an evening celebrating Wilder at Lincoln Center Theater, where his play “The Skin of Our Teeth” is being revived on Broadway this spring and opens April 25.

There are also “Our Town” revivals at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, ending March 26; Center REPertory at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, California, from April 15-May 7; Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., from May 12-June 11; and South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, California, from May 7-June 4.

Wilder's unfinished play “The Emporium” will be staged in June by the Alley Theatre in Houston, adapted by Kirk Lynn and directed by Rob Melrose, artistic director of the Alley Theatre. There is also an echo of Wilder's “The Long Christmas Dinner” in the new Noah Haidle play “Birthday Candles,” opening in April on Broadway.

International productions of his plays have been licensed in 2022 to theaters in Hungary, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Serbia, China, Romania, Greece, Hong Kong, Japan, Portugal and Spain.

Tappan Wilder, the late author’s nephew and literary executor, revealed that the anniversary will also include new editions of several plays, the recent new edition of “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” and the completion of the Thornton Wilder Library editions of all of Wilder’s novels and major plays.

Tappan Wilder hailed his uncle for "constantly experimenting with form" and for wrestling “with the questions of the cosmos, of what it means to be human.”

"With the celebration of the 125th anniversary of his birth, we’re putting him back together. It’s a moment to celebrate the depth and breadth of his work, as well as his legacy — his influence on the writers of today.”

On May 3, The Library of America will host the discussion “Our Town For Our Time: How Thornton Wilder's Play Speaks to a Changing America and Around the Globe.” The yearlong tribute will conclude Jan. 22, 2023, with Our Town Stage Manager's Day, honoring those who've played the Stage Manager in the play or are actual stage managers.


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