The idea that history repeats itself is a tale as old as time, but no play says it more eloquently than the Pulitzer Prize winning play, “The Skin of Our Teeth”, written by Thornton Wilder. The play opened on Broadway back in 1942, but it never lost its flair due to its ability to connect to whatever the world is going through at the time. How is this possible you ask? How did a playwright tap into the exact formula that generations decades later could still connect to? The answer is simple. Not only did he NOT stick to a typical template (unless seeing dinosaurs and wooly mammoths run across the stage is a staple of family centered dramedies that I didn’t know about), but Thornton Wilder wrote the play following the events of Pearl Harbor. By tapping into such a historical moment for the world, the chaos of the story is always rooted in a reality that at any moment, the rug can get pulled out from under us. Even if the rug is a different design or style and was purchased at a different store.
“The Skin of Our Teeth” is the tale of the Antrobus family, as they go through the typical situations of any family, but on more of a heightened scale…such as getting through the Ice Age together, or gathering animals aboard Noah’s ark. As the events of history are recreated for this family to endure, the idea that people can get through tough times because they are tough rings true.
The story includes elements of farce and satire, yet no matter how over-the-top the story gets, the heart of it is always relatable in the sense that when the world is going through hard times, the situation as a whole can feel ridiculous. It is ridiculous that we live in a world where two people who are in love can be shut down by certain groups of people because they are the same sex. It is ridiculous that we go to war to solve our problems. It is ridiculous that children own cellphones and it is ridiculous that ‘snap chat’ is a thing. At the end of the day, some version of every problem has been recycled and spit back out since the beginning of time. What matters most is how we deal with the present. And the best way to do that, is by seeing a live reading of “The Skin of Our Teeth” on April 20th presented by American Bard Theatre Co.
- Erika Jenko
Skin of Our Teeth...The Tale of Our Time
We live in a world of growth. We live in a world of progress. We find ourselves in a world where online newspapers can only bring in readers if they have worthy enough click bait, and we find ourselves in a world where Kim Kardashian and her rump are written about as two separate entities. We also find ourselves in a world where human rights are being challenged for multiple groups of people. We find ourselves in a world where we are questioning authority and trying to dig to the heart of the problem. We find ourselves in a world of peaceful marches, questions being raised and people speaking out. Our world is changing rapidly, yet very basic hurdles that we thought we have leaped over aka human rights are being questioned and thrown into the spotlight.
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