Interview: Carol Dunne, Northern Stage Artistic Director on Our Town

It is an incredible privilege to reexamine and re-imagine this American classic as we open the doors to the beautiful Barrette Center for the Arts. We have an incredible company of 26 actors and musicians coming together to retell this story in a way that will change us all. Our production allows for surprise, is filled with music, and will feel absolutely appropriate to the 21st century. It is really an Our Town for our town!
— Carol Dunne, Artistic Director, Northern Stage

What kind of theatre excites you? Theater that changes peoples' lives, that makes them see the world in a new way.

What was your first encounter with this play? In grammar school.  I saw a high school production and wanted to play Emily when I grew up.

Why Wilder? Why now? Because our world is too fast.  Wilder's words are so timely.  The play is a miracle in its honesty, in its laser focus on the human experience.  If Wilder felt people did not take the time to look at each other when the play was written, what would he say now?  Our audiences are hungry for a contemplative and hopeful theater experience.  Our Town is food for the mind and heart.   [soliloquy id="22623"]   Since Our Town opened on Broadway in 1938, Grover’s Corners has been an international address. How do you see this play and your production in context of the cosmos? Our production speaks to 2015 and the need for community as the very notion of community is altered irrevocably by the internet and technology.  We honor Wilder's brilliant construct while adding some modern gestures that subtly lead our audiences to the realization that Our Town is as potent not as ever before.

CAROL DUNNE (Director) is excited to lead Northern Stage for her third season as Artistic Director. She brings a wealth of experience from her former position as Producing Artistic Director of the New London Barn Playhouse and as an award winning Senior Lecturer at Dartmouth College. At Northern Stage, Carol has directed the acclaimed productions of Into the Woods, Good People, White Christmas, The Importance of Being Earnest, and most recently Songs for a New World, in which she also performed.  Under Carol’s leadership, Northern Stage has successfully launched a new works festival whose first play, Orwell in America, will transfer Off-Broadway in the Fall of 2016. She directed an industry reading of the musical A Legendary Romance in London’s West End in the Spring of 2015. Carol has also forged an official partnership with Dartmouth College, offering a groundbreaking collaborative program called Shakespeare in the Schools to enhance the lives of area schoolchildren, and created an Experiential Term for Dartmouth theater students. Under Carol and Managing Director Eric Bunge’s leadership, the Campaign for Northern Stage was launched, and the theater’s new home, the $7.5 million dollar Barrette Center for the Arts, was built on time and under budget. At Dartmouth College, Carol introduced musical theater into the curriculum and has directed Hair, The Rocky Horror Show, Eurydice, Hairspray, and Angels in America. In 2010 she received the Distinguished Lecturer Award from the College. Carol has worked professionally as an actress and director at the Tony Award-winning Cleveland Play House (as a member of the company for ten years), The Great Lakes Theater Festival, and here at Northern Stage where she appeared in productions of Cats (Grizabella), Dancing At Lughnasa (Agnes), Private Lives (Amanda), and Lend Me A Tenor (Diana.) Other awards and honors include the New Hampshire Professional Theater Award for Best Director of a Musical for Pirates of Penzance. Carol lives in Etna with husband Peter Hackett and children Ellie and Jamie.