ripe frenzy family guide

Questions to think about while you watch the play

  • How does an audience fuel a performance? What if that performance is a shooting instead of a play?

  • Why did the playwright choose the play “Our Town” as a framework for “Ripe Frenzy”?

  • Why does the audience never see Zoe’s son? How is he represented during the play?

Mass Shootings and the aftermath

“ this play, I’m interrogating the way that media reinforces the notoriety of mass shooters, the way that we as a country take in this news and how that cycle can pave the way for the next shooter to come along.”
— Jennifer Barclay

The NEA has gathered resources to help adults talk with young people about the tragedy of school shootings.

Our Town by Thornton Wilder

Barclay wrote most of “Ripe Frenzy” at the MacDowell Colony, the famed artists’ retreat in Peterborough, N.H., the town upon which Wilder modeled the fictional setting of Grover’s Corners. “I was writing my play just a few cabins over from where Thornton Wilder wrote ‘Our Town,’” Barclay says. His play “depicted the supposedly quintessential American town at the time. And my play is looking at the mass shooting epidemic as being a new norm in America, using ‘Our Town’ as a framework to look at questions about that new normal.”
— Boston Globe

Some things to know about “OUR TOWN”

  • a play written by Thornton wilder in 1938 about a fictional New Hampshire town known as “Grover’s Corners.”

  • Wilder wrote most of the play while at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough. So most people assume that Grover’s Corners is really Peterborough.

  • Written during the heyday of theatrical realism, the play’s use of minimal props and set, and the character of the Stage Manager addressing the audience, and meta-theatrical play within a play concept, was revolutionary.

  • It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1938 and has had several runs on Broadway and won a Tony award in 1989 for Best Revival .

The Stage Manager's monologue at the start of the 1989 Lincoln Center Theater production of Our Town, starring Spalding Gray as the stage manager.