One Stoplight Town: The Relevance of Change in Our Lives

One Stoplight Town: The Relevance of Change in Our Lives

“‘Why are we bothering to put up a stoplight? They’re not going to stop. Just let them pass us by!’” It’s a line spoken by Barb, an outspoken store owner, as she watches the installation of the new town stoplight.

But Trish, the town handy-woman thoughtfully responds, “‘Like time is passing us by?’”

One Stoplight Town, the Old Lyme Player’s Fall Play, written by playwright Tracy Wells, is a series of interconnected vignettes portraying the passage of time in a small town (not unlike Old Lyme). Beginning with the installment of a stoplight, One Stoplight Town tells the stories of the townspeople and their significant struggles in a town that might otherwise be regarded as insignificant. As the years go by, audiences watch the townspeople grow and change, such as the young couple Jim and Sally (portrayed by Ethan Hale and Isabelle O’Connor), or Casey (Isabella Presti), a girl who is just waiting for her moment. Some changes occur within the town itself, such as the new stoplight, or perhaps the opening of a new restaurant. Small though they are, these developments can sometimes lead to outrage and debate across town, showing just how polarizing change can be.

Old Lyme is no stranger to similar controversies. A few years ago, the town witnessed heated debates over topics surrounding affordable housing, declaring racism as a public health crisis, and physical changes to Hall’s Road. Even now, the conversation surrounding these topics can be fractious, proving changes in real life can be just as polarizing as they are in One Stoplight Town. And although the subjects of change in One Stoplight Town may seem minuscule by comparison, they are as relevant to the characters in the play as topics like affordable housing are to the people of Old Lyme. There are even moments of passionate protest in the play that, although comedic, show just how significant the advancements are in the small scope of the town.

But even as debates can turn sour, One Stoplight Town demonstrates the importance of community among such disagreements. The occasional clashes between characters, like Trish or Barb, no matter how intense, are always transcended by their friendship and respect for one another. Sometimes even a laugh or a smile is enough to diffuse the tension between them. One would hope that this same kind of respect might somehow ground the controversies of everyday life, helping to guide those who disagree.

Apart from the respect between characters, there is also a sense of stability amidst the changes that occur in One Stoplight Town. Despite new institutions and perhaps unfamiliar faces, One Stoplight Town reminds us that some things never change. Years go by, yet the friendships among the townspeople remain, as do the old businesses and restaurants in the town. As Tracy Wells points out, people value the newer and more exciting aspects of their lives just as much as they do the more familiar ones. Perhaps change would not be such a scary thing if we could keep that in mind.

So as the Old Lyme Players prepare to bring One Stoplight Town to the stage on October 28th and 29th, we must think of the relevance that this play has on our daily lives and how it might help us to be more accepting of change. Just because new things can be unfamiliar, it does not mean they will take away the things we have always loved. It could be argued that One Stoplight Town does not just portray the passage of time, but also the journey that comes from learning to accept changes through time. Come support the Old Lyme Players as they work through questions that continue to trouble and inspire us today.  Performances will begin at 7 pm on the 28th and the 29th of October.