Thornton Wilder had firsthand experience of China in the early 1910s when his father was appointed American consul in Shanghai and he was sent to a school run by British missionaries in Chefoo. Drawing on his personal experience of China, Wilder in his unpublished undergraduate writings returned again and again to the setting of "a certain treaty port on the Yang-tze Kiang river." He was inspired in 1930 by a New York performance by Mei Lan-fang, a legendary Chinese actor to transpose the Chinese "property man" into the stage manager and stress the minimalist setting of Chinese theater in Our Town.
Formal photograph of Thornton Wilder's father, Amos Parker Wilder, with Wu Ting Fang, Hong Kong envoy to the United States. Washington D.C., 4 April 1908.
Publicity photograph of Thornton Wilder pantomiming scenery while performing the role of the Stage Manager in Our Town. Wellesley, MA, 1950.
The Twentieth Century: American Modernists:
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