From the Eagle:

A professor from a small town plays a smalltown professor in a play aware of its audience.

That local man is George T. “Sam” Crane, a Williams College professor now on stage in “Our Town,” a classic 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning work by Thornton Wilder that Crane considers an anthropological study of “big questions of finding eternal in the every day.”

The play opened yesterday on the Main Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and runs through Aug. 8.

The story looks at the love of George Gibbs and Emily Webb, from their births to Emily’s death in childbirthand is based in a fictional New England town not unlike Williamstown.

A member of the Williams College political science department for 21 years, Crane did not always envision a teaching career specializing in ancient Chinese thought. He acted in plays in high school and college, even showing interest in acting school.

“But it faded out of my life,” he said. For 30 years. Then associates recommended that he try out for an upcoming Williamstown Theatre Festival play.

Martin also searched for someone from the Berkshires to fulfill a small yet crucial role: Professor Willard, the town historian described in the play’s stage directions as “a little dried-up man.” “It was suggested that I look around locally for talent,” Martin said, “which I thought would be unlikely to find.” He could not have hoped for better than Crane, he said.

“Sam is charming but so defined the part,” Martin said. “We’re lucky to have him. Sam’s so happy to be on the stage that it is infectious.” Crane does not identify with the role besides his profession. He has taken the role in “Our Town” to experience life in someone else’s shoes.

“I’m hoping to take advantage of it, because I’m interested and drawn in,” he said. “I feel like an anthropologist invited into this community of actors to observe them.”

“It’s not just talent. They are professionals, aware of their craft. It’s incredible that they can do so much with a pause or inflection,” he said. In contrast to the pompous Professor Willard, Crane has been humbled by the company he’s been keeping. ” I’m learning being around incredible, marvelous people,” he said. “I have modest expectations, but I’m enjoying my moment and having a great time.”

Has anyone seen the play? Tell us about it!

Congratulations to Sam, perhaps the Williams faculty member who has been reading EphBlog for the longest time.

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