OPEN AUDITIONS FOR THE LAST FERRYMAN
An original Opera House Arts' musical celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge
Auditions will be held Monday, March 10 and Friday, March 14, by composer Paul Sullivan and director Judith Jerome, for all community chorus roles for the premier of OHA's new musical, The Last Ferryman.
The Last Ferryman is a new, original popera being written based on community members' real stories and memories of how the bridge came to be, and how it has changed our communities, with music by Grammy Award-winner Sullivan.
Auditions will be held from 4:30 - 6 p.m. each day. Interested participants are asked to call Opera House Arts and schedule an audition time.
The Bridge Project: 75 years of Spanning the Reach
Opera House Arts commissions new musical, year-long education program, parade to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge
Prior to 1939, Deer Isle-Stonington were isolated fishing communities facing the sea. On June 19, 1939, the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge was completed and dedicated, connecting Little Deer Isle with the mainland. How did the building of this bridge change life on Deer Isle, and in the surrounding mainland communities? In this 75th anniversary year, Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House (OHA) is exploring that question in creative ways with students and adult community members on both sides of the bridge, and is hosting two community meetings the week of March 3 for ways additional organizations and individuals can participate in this project.
On Tuesday, March 4 at 3:30 p.m., a meeting will be held for all those individuals wishing to participate with OHA’s new musical, The Last Ferryman, commissioned from Grammy winning composer Paul Sullivan. At this meeting, director Judith Jerome and artistic director Linda Nelson will outline the project, talk about casting, and dream together with attendees about how the new performance might work.
On Friday, March 7 at 2:30 p.m. OHA will host a community meeting for all groups and individuals interested in participating in a 75th anniversary Bridge celebration event at the bridge on Saturday, June 21. This community event will be organized around a parade across the bridge, and can include whatever celebratory events groups wish to host at Bridge End Park at the parade’s finale. Current collaborators on this event include the Bridge End Citizens Initiative, the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society, and the Deer Isle-Stonington Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School and the Reach Performing Arts Center. All collaborators, existing and new, are asked to attend this organizational planning meeting.
Both meetings will be held in the Stonington Opera House. Please R.S.V.P. to Linda Nelson at email@example.com, particularly if you are unable to attend but would like to participate.
The Last Ferryman will be given its world premiere at the Opera House August 14-22, 2014. This new musical, like OHA’s previous Dear Fish and Burt Dow performances, is based on historic research and oral histories about the creation of the bridge, materials gathered specifically for this project from community elders by students and adults. The musical is set on Charlie Scott’s ferry—the way to get across the Reach from Deer Isle prior to 1939—and features as characters Charlie, the last ferryman; Frank McGuire, to whom the bridge is dedicated; Raymond Scott, the treasurer of the original bridge initiative; and other historic community members. Individuals can participate in The Last Ferryman in multiple ways: as actors, singers, and dramaturgs: people with whom to think through the design elements, set, costumes--and events that might happen around the musical. OHA is also seeking additional objects and images to be used for the design and implementation of the musical’s set. Art Rotch, a native Mainer who is now the Producing Artistic Director for Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, is the scenic designer for the project. Rotch previously designed Women and the Sea and As You Like It for OHA, both in 2006. He is seeking additional historic images of the causeway before it was developed, and more general contextual photos from the 1930s: the towns, stores and merchants, goods, cars, steamboats, fishing boats, yachts on the Reach, ice on the Reach or the Harbor. Also people: Frank McGuire and his wife; Ralph Barter; Ray Small; families in general; the toll takers, passengers on the ferry or steamboats; farmers, the ferryman, bridge engineers, construction workers. Also objects from the era--or you may have other ideas of how to feed the design and story ideas! Photos can be sent electronically via email to firstname.lastname@example.org; dropped off at the Opera House box office on Main Street; or brought to the meeting on Tuesday, March 4.
An important, year-long component of The Bridge Project is a Local Stories project currently underway at the Deer Isle-Stonington and Sedgwick Elementary Schools. Third and fourth grade classes are researching local history, and will create a permanent mural and a performance based on that research. Students are guided by classroom teachers Judy Rhodes, Tasha Brown and Sharon Longley in collaboration with OHA-sponsored visiting artists Laurie Downey and Gretchen Berg and island historians Tinker Crouch and Connie Wiberg in this multi-disciplinary, integrated arts project. Students have been interviewing local elders who have grown up, lived and worked in Sedgwick and Deer Isle and are sharing their firsthand experiences and memories. Connie Wiberg, Bill Haviland, Sylvia Wardwell, Clair Grindle and Allie Webb have all shared their stories with students and The Bridge Project. Students heard stories of circus animals coming to Deer Isle by ferry; the terrors of crossing the “dancing bridge” (pre-cables); and romances made possible by the bridge. The classes have also taken a field trip to the bridge and Bridge End Park, where they asked questions of engineer Ken Sweeney and Deer Isle resident Loring Kydd. Students are keeping a visual project journals, including both writing and drawings, based on the stories they hear and see.
During a residency with the visiting artist team beginning May 22, students will paint the mural and develop a performance piece based on these drawings and themes from their research. On May 30, the third and fourth grade students will unveil the murals, created with visual artist Laurie Downey, in a celebratory event open to the community along with a performance based on their research directed by theater artist Gretchen Berg. The murals will be hung as permanent installations in the hallways of both schools.
“The Bridge Project” is one of an ongoing series of Local Stories projects in Maine elementary schools. For more information on the Project, see www.lauriedowney.net/schoolmurals. This project is part of Opera House Arts’ arts integrated teaching and learning partnership with its local schools, and is supported in part by grants from the Maine Arts Commission, the Island Education Foundation, and the Quimby Family Foundation.
For additional information about any portion of OHA’s The Bridge Project, including the community meetings, the new musical, or the educational project, please contact Opera House Arts at email@example.com, or 207-367-2788.
OPERA HOUSE ARTS ANNOUNCES 15TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON FEATURING ORIGINAL PRODUCTIONS ON THE THEME OF TRANSFORMATION AND CHANGE
Special season will also celebrate retirement of founding Artistic Director Judith Jerome
Opera House Arts (OHA) is pleased to announce major programs and dates for its 15th anniversary season, including two original theatrical productions in summer 2014. The upcoming season will also celebrate the work and honor the retirement of founding Artistic Director Judith Jerome on November 1, 2014. The theme of OHA’s 2014 season—which is also the 75th anniversary of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge, connecting the Stonington Opera House’s home to the mainland—is Transformation and Change, reflecting both the large cultural change represented by the bridge opening, as well as the structural change of the Opera House in Jerome’s retirement.
The season will be anchored by two original theatrical productions. Beginning July 3, OHA will unveil a special Shakespeare in Stonington production featuring a new play by OHA affiliated artist Melody Bates. Titled R&J&Z (Romeo & Juliet & Zombies), the production was developed over two years of artist residencies in the community and school, in repertory with an original production of the Bard’s masterwork, Romeo and Juliet.
On August 14, OHA will premiere The Last Ferryman, directed by Jerome, a new “popera” commissioned by OHA from Grammy Award winner Paul Sullivan to tell the story of the creation and impact of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge. Like R&J&Z, The Last Ferryman is the culmination of year-long school and community research and participation. The opening of the bridge, connecting Stonington and the extended community to the mainland, represented an enormous cultural change.
“These programs are fitting ways to celebrate Judith’s retirement,” said Richard Howe, chairman of the Opera House Arts’ Board of Directors. “They highlight the originality, creativity, and community engagement at the heart of OHA’s mission and the program she has helped to develop so strongly over 15 very busy years.”
The opening of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge 75 years ago, on June 19, 1939, was a moment of huge cultural change for Deer Isle and its primary economic center, Stonington. Dependent until then on the kindnesses of weather and ferry service, islanders access to the mainland, including to critical medical services, was often blocked by time (the ferry stopped running at 6 p.m.) or temperature (Eggemoggin Reach froze over several winters in the period just before the bridge opened, making crossing dangerous or impossible). Through its year long The Bridge Project/The Last Ferryman, a close collaboration with the schools both on the island and across the bridge in Sedgwick as well as with the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society, OHA seeks to give community members, participants, and audiences a chance to study, understand, and discuss major community change, and the ways communities deal with broad cultural shifts such as this.
Likewise, the development of Melody Bates’ original script, R&J&Z, which takes off from Act V of Romeo and Juliet and introduces the concept of traditional Haitian notions of zombie-ism to Shakespeare’s tragedy of star-crossed lovers, and is also deeply integrated with school and community while exploring a moment of significant cultural change. Romeo and Juliet are the new, young generation of Montagues and Capulets: and they don’t fit. Are they doomed to extinction, or does the metaphor, magic, and horror of R&J&Z open for us the possibility that their tale lives on in perpetuity, a gateway to a new world order? In collaboration with the Deer Isle-Stonington High School, both scripts are part of a year long “Shakespeare Immersion” program, sponsored by OHA, for students in grades 9-12, in which all island students are reading Romeo and Juliet and having multiple opportunities to see performances and films of it, as well as to participate in the development of R&J&Z.
OHA’s 15th anniversary season begins November 1, 2013, the start of its new fiscal year. In addition to the large original summer performances, it includes a very special Valentine’s Day concert by the Daponte String Quartet, Whirlwind Romance; in March, the premiere of a solo performance developed from Chapter 7 of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, also celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2014; in April the premiere of a one hour, educational cabaret version of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s Sweet Sixteen; and a concert version of West Side Story as OHA’s Annual Gala Benefit on July 7.
“I’m very proud of how much original programming we have in development this year,” said Jerome. “Commissioning and developing new performance relevant to our particular communities is at the heart of what we do, and we’ve more in the pipeline as we look toward 2015 and beyond.”
JUDITH JEROME is one of four founding members of Opera House Arts, founded in 1999 to restore the 1912 Stonington Opera House, on the National Register of Historic Places, to its central role as a community arts institution at the heart of Stonington’s Main Street and working waterfront. She shared Artistic Director duties with founding co-Artistic Director CAROL ESTEY through 2006. Jerome holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, for which she was awarded the Monroe Lippman Award for Distinguished Dissertation in 2007. She began her performance career in the bosom of her large storytelling Texas family, and then with the renowned Dallas Little Theater in 1956. She raised three daughters and performed in most of the theaters in Denver, CO in the two decades leading up to her move to New York in 1995, writing and performing much of her own material. She worked closely with the Colorado Council on the Arts, as a visiting artist in schools and communities, as a teaching artist with the Colorado Aesthetic Education Institute, and as a supervisor of artist’s residencies. In New York City she has performed at Dixon Place, HERE, Peculiar Works Projects, among others. She was managing editor of Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Studies from 1996-1999, and taught as an adjunct professor at NYU before helping to found Opera House Arts. At the Opera House, in addition to her role as Artistic Director, she is known for both her stage performances (Lace, a solo spoken word piece detailing island geneology; The Ferry Musicals: the Moose Boy; The Duck Variations) and direction (Women and the Sea; Last Gas).
While retiring from her administrative duties as Artistic Director, Jerome will continue with OHA as a member of its Board of Directors and on an annual consulting retainer to direct special projects. In response to Jerome’s retirement, OHA will restructure staffing along more traditional lines for a theater of its size, naming current Executive Director Linda Nelson as Producing Artistic Director and creating additional administrative staff lines reporting to Nelson for development, marketing, and artistic support.
Opera House Arts (OHA) is one of only a handful of year-round theaters in Maine to operate under an Actors Equity Small Professional Theater contract. OHA not only presents but commissions and produces new work from Maine artists. The Opera House, part of the Maine Performs network, has become a noted destination for performance in Maine. Showing movies nearly continuously since 1918, the Opera House converted to true digital cinema in March 2013 and is open 52 weeks a year with a full schedule of film and exciting original events unlike the schedule of any other theater in Maine.
“Shakespeare Immersion” Program in Deer Isle-Stonington Schools features first performance:
When Shakespeare’s Ladies Meet Schools, Opera House Arts, Reach Performing Arts Center collaborate to further learning goals
Who the heck is Tybalt? And why does he or any of Shakespeare matter to today’s students and communities? Opera House Arts (OHA), the Deer Isle-Stonington Schools, and the Reach Performing Arts Center are proud to announce the first student performance, When Shakespeare’s Ladies Meet, November 15-16, in a year-long collaborative education program around Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. An extension to school curricula of OHA’s popular Shakespeare in Stonington series, going into its 14th season in 2014, the collaboration also includes a high school-wide read of Romeo and Juliet, presentations and analyses of multiple performance and film versions of the play, two week-long artist residencies with actor and playwright Melody Bates, and additional opportunities for students to perform in original adaptations of Romeo and Juliet and a new, original work, R&J&Z (Romeo & Juliet & Zombies).
When Shakespeare’s Ladies Meet is a 1942 one-act by Charles George directed by Morgan Witham. The play will be performed by six high school students, Allison Cormier, Ally Eaton, Natalie Knowlton, Nicole Nolan, Veronica Pezaris, and Julie Bentley, on Friday at 7 pm and Saturday at 2 pm. Witham said the goal is for the students to be able to take the production to the Maine Theater Festival in March 2014, which would mark Deer Isle-Stonington’s first participation in this annual statewide festival.
“Performing in this play allows the students an in-depth opportunity to analyze the nuts and bolts of literary adaptation, a requirement of the Common Core reading standards,” said Witham. “For my actors it is really practical: how do they play up the strengths of the text, and address the weaknesses? The script incorporates Shakespearean quotes, so they are working with adaptation and heightened language, as well as with layers of history.”
When Shakespeare's Ladies Meet brings together six of the Bard’s most famous heroines, who use excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays to instruct Juliet, who has just fallen in love with Romeo, how to avoid the pitfalls of love.
As part of the “Shakespeare Immersion” program the Opera House screened for the high school student body, on November 7, the new film version of Romeo and Juliet adapted by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey). Additional events in the year-long program include:
December 2-6 and March 24-28: artist residencies in the schools by Melody Bates, author of the new adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, R&J&Z. Ms. Bates is most familiar to Maine audiences for her lead roles in Shakespeare in Stonington, including Cleopatra, Titania, and Lady Macbeth. She currently performs with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
Late March: Shakespeare and Company presentation of a traditional, shortened touring version of Romeo and Juliet at the Reach Performing Arts Center.
April 17-19: adaptation workshop for students around Juliet’s Sweet Sixteen, an original cabaret version of Romeo and Juliet in development by Opera House Arts.
July 3-20: original Actors Equity productions of Romeo and Juliet and R&J&Z, including student and community participation, Shakespeare in Stonington at the Stonington Opera House.
“Romeo and Juliet, one of the most classic tales of young love and transformation, is the perfect play in which to immerse high school students in learning all aspects of English language standards—language, themes, adaptations, critical thinking and comparative analyses,” said Robin Cust, Opera House Arts’ Educational Associate. “We’re proud to partner with the school and the Reach on this arts integrated learning program.”
The “Shakespeare Immersion” program is funded in part by the Maine Arts Commission SMART program. The Maine Arts Commission is a state agency that receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Tickets are available only at the door of the Reach Performing Arts Center in the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School and are $8 for adults, with island students admitted free. There will be a Talk Back with the cast and director after both shows.
Opera House Arts to pilot weekly transportation from Blue Hill to theater
New strategic plan responds to community feedback
Opera House Arts (OHA) is pleased to announce it will pilot a new, regular weekly transportation program from Blue Hill to the 1912 Stonington Opera House on Friday evenings, as well as for some additional special events, beginning November 8. OHA will run its six-passenger van in a round trip route every Friday night beginning at Parker Ridge and making stops at Tradewinds Marketplace and Eggemoggin Country Store to facilitate those patrons who would like to attend the theater’s unique movies and live programs but do not wish to make the drive to the island on their own.
The new program is part of OHA’s new three-year strategic plan, adopted by its Board of Directors in June 2013.
“Nighttime transportation to and from the Peninsula has become a real issue for many of our patrons, and they’ve told us so,” said OHA Director Linda Nelson. “We’ll test the market with this pilot program and see whether we can provide this service in a meaningful way to make a difference for enough theater goers.”
Advance reservations are required. A combined, round trip van and movie ticket is $15. To purchase your van and show ticket, or for more information, please call 207-367-2788