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OT:OUR TOWN. A Famous American Play in an Infamous American Town (2005)

Catherine Borek , Karen Greene , Scott Hamilton Kennedy  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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OT:OUR TOWN. A Famous American Play in an Infamous American Town + Our Town (Widescreen Edition) + Thornton Wilder's Our Town, Two Historic Productions on Two DVD
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Product Details

  • Actors: Catherine Borek, Karen Greene, Ebony Starr Norwood-Brown, Archie Posada, Armia Robinson
  • Directors: Scott Hamilton Kennedy
  • Writers: Thornton Wilder
  • Producers: Scott Hamilton Kennedy, Mark Pellington
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Film Movement
  • DVD Release Date: January 1, 2005
  • Run Time: 76 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006GVPXO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,540 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "OT:OUR TOWN. A Famous American Play in an Infamous American Town" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

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 culture clash, as they embark on a rich journey and discover the educational and social value of theater. OT: our town tells the story of human spirit and its strength against the cliches attempting to hold them down. Where Wilder wrote about little Grover's Corners, this documentary exemplifies how Our Town is every town, Our Town is Compton. Winner - Best Documentary - Los Angeles FF. Winner - Palm Springs Int'l Festival. Nominated - Best Documentary - Independent Spirit Awards. Official Selection - Toronto, South by Southwest and Tribeca Film Festivals.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
(13)
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
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.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Our Town, Compton, California September 25, 2005
Format:DVD
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Teamwork June 7, 2006
Format:DVD
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!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OT: Our Town-- A great story for today's students January 28, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This is an amazing and inspirational documentary. Two teachers at Dominguez High School in Compton, California take on the daunting task of producing the first play there in over twenty years despite no budget, no stage (they finally improvise one in the school cafeteria) and little support from the administration. The play they choose is Thornton Wilder's OUR TOWN set in a small New Hampshire town early in the twentieth century. What could a play set in staid New England almost a century ago have to say to African American and Hispanic teenagers living in a city known for its crime and poverty? At first the students' answer would have been "nothing " but the skilled teachers (Catherine Borek and Karen Greene) guide them to the universality in the dramatic text and help them creatively relate it to their present experience. Interviews and home visits with some of the cast members add to our understanding of the Compton community and the truth that "people are people" no matter where, when or how we live our journey through eternity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I saw this video available on Amazon and I thought I would buy it...
I want to teach Our Town to my inner city students in LA. I saw this video available on Amazon and I thought I would buy it and watch it. I really liked it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Wilma
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoy it with my class
It's a bit dated now, but I still enjoy showing it to my 11th graders after we watch Our Town. We talk about the ways Our Town can be modified for today and talk about how this... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Marykatherine Meyer
5.0 out of 5 stars My class was skeptical and then really loved it by the end
We viewed this in my Freshman Composition class after reading the play Our Town by Thorton Wilder. We were all very skeptical about the documentary but it showed the class how even... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Salvatore Talluto
5.0 out of 5 stars O.T. was inspirational and real. Better than the original.
Loved this documentary. It was real. Good focus on character development and the hard work involved in pulling off a production - in the school cafeteria no less - and in the... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Elisabeth Hargrove
4.0 out of 5 stars Importance of Art In Education
Dominguez High, in infamous Compton, CA, has not produced a play in over twenty years. With no money and no stage, two teachers and twenty-four students attempt to produce Thornton... Read more
Published on July 31, 2011 by Bryan A. Pfleeger
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Belief
OT:Our Town presents an oasis of hope in a desert of despair. The teacher and students who take part in the theater production we, the audience, get to observe will connect with... Read more
Published on May 23, 2010 by william I. Am
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and inspirational!
This doc knocked my socks off! If anything could make you believe in the universally transformative power of art, this might be it. Read more
Published on April 1, 2008 by Nathan T. Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars Kids + hope + the power of one person = amazing!
Two aspects of this movie really struck me. One is that kids are kids, whether they're in a wealthy suburb or Compton (though their different circumstances _do_ affect them... Read more
Published on May 27, 2007 by David Gertler
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