Compton, California carries a reputation for gangs, gangsta rap and violence, but a few years ago, a high school there staged a production of Our Town, Thornton Wilder's play set in a New England village in 1904. It's a drama-class chestnut that people tend to think of as sweet old-fashioned Americana, even though the entire third act is told from the perspective of the dead. Eric Molinsky has the story of the students in Compton who discovered that Our Town was their town.

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