Study Guide

Our Town Setting

By Thornton Wilder


Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire

Our Town is set in the fictional town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire (population: 2,642). Key scenes take place at the Gibbs and Webb houses, a drugstore counter, and the town cemetery. But wait! Is it really taking place in Grover’s Corners? Remember that this entire play is being "controlled" by the Stage Manager, as if he’s standing in front of a giant movie screen and hitting "stop," "go," "rewind," and "fast forward." Our Town is a play about this Stage Manager guy showing us a bunch of scenes from a fictional town named Grover’s Corners.

So…make the jump with us, please…Our Town actually takes place in the present day. The Stage Manager exists in the present, even as the scenes he shows us exist in the early 1900’s. Our Town thus always remains contemporary and relevant.

Moreover, the citizens of Grover’s Corners have an awareness of scale that manifests itself several times during the play. This awareness is both historical (the Stage Manager constantly alludes to old Greek and Roman civilizations) and spatially (the letter address that includes the Universe and the Mind of God, and Mrs. Gibbs’ dreams of traveling to Paris). This allows audiences to anchor Grover’s Corners in relation to the rest of the world.