Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|OTOUR TOWN A Famous American Play in an Infamous American Town|
Actors: Catherine Borek, Karen Greene, Ebony Starr Norwood-Brown, Archie Posada, Armia Robinson
Director: Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Against all odds, the first theatrical production in over 20 years at Dominguez High School is going to be Thornton Wilder's American classic "Our Town." The kids at this Compton school are about to experience more than a ... more »
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You'll laugh, you'll cry -- you'll be changed by this movie
M. C. Crammer | Decatur, GA USA | 01/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THis documentary (and I hate to use that word, as it sounds so dreary) is set in a high school in a particularly awful Southern California community -- Compton. The only good thing about the school is the basketball team (one of the players goes directly to the Chicago Bulls after graduation) and the students tend to get pregnant (the girls) or get shot (the boys). A couple of idealistic teachers decide that it's time to try putting on a play -- something that hasn't happened in ages (if at all) at this high school. They pick Our Town, which is perhaps an odd choice given how middle America Our Town is, and how -- diverse -- the students at Dominguez H.S. in Compton are (Hispanic and African American). The students think a play sounds like fun but then they think they don't like the play and what if no-one comes to see them, etc. The teachers have trouble with students coming to rehearsal and memorizing their lines. The high school has no stage (great gym, however).
I won't tell you how the play turns out -- I was concerned myself the closer they got to opening day and couldn't imagine what it was like for the teachers.
I wish movies like this were more widely distributed. For one thing, getting to know the student actors in this movie helped you see the real diversity in Compton -- how different but real each student was, how in some ways the stereotype was true (violence is a big problem in Compton and the students aren't self-disciplined and bring quite a lot of baggage to class) and yet they have potential, talent, and their own stories to tell.
I highly recommend this movie."
Our Town, Compton, California
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 09/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Catherine Borek, a teacher at the Dominguez High School in Compton, California, an area of Los Angeles County known for its gangs and drive-by shootings, had the inspired and daring idea to have her class perform Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." Borek re-created the play to reflect the environment of the students, and in directing the production, she sometimes uses "tough love" to push them to their limits, urging them to learn their lines, and express themselves in a way that is foreign to them. Also directing them is teacher Karen Greene, and with no budget and little time, they put the show on in the cafeteria, in makeshift costumes, and fortunately, "Our Town" requires no more than some chairs and a table for scenery.
We get to see some the home life of the teens, but most of the film centers on their preparation for the play, and their enthusiasm for the project grows as the performance date draws near. The film ends with portions of the performance, and it is funny, touching, and wonderful to see the kids doing so well, in a play that one would think would be hard to transpose to present day Southern California. As a reference, clips from the 1977 television production starring Hal Holbrook and Robby Benson are used, during the preparatory footage.
Scott Hamilton Kennedy directed this documentary, and the students, though not famous yet, deserve mention. It stars Ebony Norwood-Brown as The Stage Manager, Archie Posada as George Gibbs, Armia Robinson as Emily Webb, and others in the cast include Jackie Oliver, Christopher Patterson, and José Perez. One hopes that having succeeded in this challenge, these students will continue to excel in more plays, and other areas of their lives. This was the first play presented by the Dominguez High School in 21 years, and Ms. Borek should be lauded for her courage and vision. Perhaps with this documentary as inspiration, more inner city schools will attempt to do this marvelous play, which is the most performed play in American theater history, and now has been proved to adapt well to its surroundings. Total running time is 76 minutes.
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 06/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The documentary "OT: Our Town" is a must for theatre education. It shows how the process of putting on a play instills teamwork, professionalism and discipline. Everyone in the group is so dependent on the success of each individual that it really is an excellent experience that students can use in many walks of life. This documentary is particularly fulfilling set in Compton, California at Dominguez High. Not having put on a play for 20 years, the teachers had to fight an uphill battle without funding to be able to stage Thornton Wilder's show. Some of the charm of the documentary comes from watching how the largely Black & Hispanic cast adapt the show to be meaningful in their world. One scene where a cast member talks about all the people they know who have been killed and then relates that to the death at Grovers Corner tugs at your heartstrings. Watching the students stage that kiss between George & Emily is hilarious and charming. This film is excellent because it shows how relevant theatre can be. Enjoy!"
OT: Our Town-- A great story for today's students
Richard Carlander | LA, CA United States | 01/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you love the play Our Town, if you're a teacher who has taught Our Town and tried to get your students to see the power, the relevancy and the charm of this American classic, OT: Our Town is a story you will want to watch and share with your students. I had my kids read the play and then I showed them this movie. One of the kids put it this way: "That movie actually wasn't boring!" High praise indeed from a high school junior these days, and if you too are in the classroom you know exactly what I mean. This is a wonderful documentary, very touching and relevant and filled with human truth. And it shows just how timeless the message of Our Town is!"