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SHAKESPEARE IN STONINGTON 2014: A CLASSIC ROMANCE & A WORLD PREMIERE

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In celebration of Opera House Arts’ (OHA) 15th Anniversary Season, OHA is thrilled to announce a very special, two production repertory program, including the world premiere of a new work, opening July 3 at the Stonington Opera House. OHA will offer a new production of the Bard’s best known classic, Romeo and Juliet, directed by HOLLY L. DERR; and the world premiere of R&J&Z (Romeo & Juliet & Zombies) by MELODY BATES, directed by JOAN JUBETT (director, Burt Dow, Deep Water Man). The same eight member, Actors Equity cast, plus multiple members of the community including five student interns, will perform both shows. The cast features Bangor High School graduate and New York City-based actor MATT HURLEY. The productions feature a magical scenic design by TOM LEE, lighting design by MIRANDA HARDY, and original sound design by MARK VAN HARE. The run includes two Community Reads of the play, one at the Blue Hill Wine Shop June 25 and one in downtown Stonington June 26, and two facilitated Talk Backs hosted by national cultural journalist ALICIA ANSTEAD and featuring Shakespeare scholar Yu Jin Ko of Wellesley College on July 18 and 19.

Romeo and Juliet was one of Shakespeare’s early and most popular plays, then and now. Alongside Hamlet, it is one of the most produced of the Bard’s works. It is based on an Italian tale, for which Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both verse and prose adaptations from the mid-16th century. A tragedy, Romeo and Juliet stands as an exemplar of Shakespeare’s ability to switch between comedy and tragedy to heighten tension, expand on minor characters, and use sub-plots to embellish his story. The play’s language is justifiably famed and is a focus of OHA’s production, at times ascribing different poetic forms to different characters, and even at times changing the form as the character develops. Romeo, for example, grows more adept at the sonnet as the play progresses.

“Remember how when you were a teenager, everything felt like the end of the world?” director Derr said of Romeo and Juliet. “For Romeo and Juliet, it really is. In the course of just four action-packed days, an old feud breaks out; a couple meets, falls in love, gets married, and dies; and an old world gives way to a new peace.”

Melody Bates’s R&J&Z, one part horror movie and one part Shakespeare with equal doses of humor, takes off from Act V of Romeo and Juliet and is written in the same iambic pentameter verse for which Shakespeare is acclaimed. The narrative asks, what if Romeo and Juliet, Western culture’s most famed star-crossed lovers, got a second chance? Set against the historical backdrop of Verona’s plague, R&J&Z throws old and new characters together over the course of an apocalyptic and action-packed 24 hours.

“Shakespeare was an omnivore,” said Bates. “He sampled from all the modern culture of his time, and his plays were written to entertain the working man as well as the ruling elites. Haitian zombie lore is an important part of our current cultural milieu for a reason: come to R&J&Z to discover why.”

HOLLY L. DERR is a writer, director, and professor of theater specializing in the Viewpoints & Composition, the performance of gender, and applied theater history. She holds an MFA in Directing from Columbia University and a BA in Theater from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was the founding Artistic Director of SKT Inc., and has served on the faculties of Marlboro College and Smith College; taught and directed at the American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University; The Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company Consortium; the California Institute of the Arts, and the University of California. She recently presented her original script, American Medea, at the Warner Loughlin Studios and Ensemble Studio Theater/LA. Holly is also a feminist media critic who writes about theater, film, television, video games and comics. Follow her @hld6oddblend and on her tumblr, Feminist Fandom. This is Derr’s first production at the Stonington Opera House.

MELODY BATES, who in addition to writing R&J&Z is starring as Juliet in that production, has been seen numerous times on the Opera House stage as Lady Macbeth, Titania, Cleopatra and more. She wrote R&J&Z thanks to a series of four residencies in Stonington, during which she also worked as a visiting teaching artist in English at Deer Isle-Stonington High School. She is a versatile and talented actress who works in stage and film in a wide array of genres. In 2012 she was nominated for four New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role. She appears regularly on the Metropolitan Opera stage, where she has played small acting roles in director Bartlett Sher’s last four productions, and has worked with other notable directors including Michael Grandage and Sir David McVicar. Her film credits include Alas the Nymphs, Public Hearing (2012), Le Comte Ory Live in HD (2011), A Tree A Rock A Cloud (2013), The Deafening Silence of a Very Bright Light (2010), Sum of the Parts (2008), and the short horror spoof Have You Seen Tom (2010). In NYC she has appeared at La MaMa E.T.C., PS 122, the Classic Stage Company, the Flea Theatre, and in Robert Woodruff’s Godard: distant and right (NYC and Paris). As a company member of Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant, Melody has also performed at Cleveland Public Theatre and the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. She teaches Shakespeare at a middle school in Brooklyn, NY, and holds an MFA in Acting from Columbia University. Bates is a member of OHA’s Artistic Advisory Board.

Show times and ticket prices vary, please consult THIS PAGE for details. Discounted packages are available for patrons buying tickets to Romeo and Juliet and R&J&Z together. Island Students Free to every Shakespeare performance. Ticket buyers wishing to attend a second performance may do so for half price, and are always welcome to come back for one of the post-show Talk Backs. The series is made possible in part by a very generous 12 years of underwriting by Ray and Judy McCaskey. R&J&Z is made possible in part by the generous underwriting of an anonymous donor.

Programs sell out and advance ticket purchases are strongly recommended.


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TWO NEW WORKS OF ART BY AREA RESIDENTS TO PREMIERE AT OPERA HOUSE ARTS

A new children’s book featuring the Opera House, a new film-in-development




Opera House Arts (OHA) takes great pride in announcing the premiere of two new works of art by area residents on Wednesday, July 16 and Thursday, July 17, as additions to its published calendar of events.

On Wednesday, July 16 at 6 p.m. as an added bonus before the appearance of the Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers in its Live for $5 Series, OHA will offer a pop-up reception / book launch for a new children’s book by Sedgwick painter Paul Trowbridge, with text by his daughter, fashion designer Marisol. Scipio Seagull is a full-length picture book adventure for all ages about a bird who wants to be an opera singer at the Stonington Opera House. Scipio is originally shunned for being different, but his unique talents eventually save his flock. All the action takes place in picturesque downtown Stonington, beautifully illustrated in Trowbridge’s original watercolors. The short pop-up reception will include a giant slide show of original images from the book, with a talk by its creators. Paul Trowbridge is represented by the Isalos Gallery.

On Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m. at its Burnt Cove Church facility OHA will feature filmmaker Peter Logue screening and discussing his new film in development, The Search for the White Rose. The White Rose was a student-led resistance movement in Nazi Germany at the University of Munich in 1942-43. They published and widely distributed six leaflets that called upon their nation to rise against the government by urging them to consider the “dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from eyes and the most horrible of crimes--crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure- reach the light of day.” Through the lens of an American university student, this documentary explores the legacy that was left behind by the members of the White Rose after they were caught and executed by the Gestapo. Mr. Logue is raising funds to return to Germany in the fall to share the film there. A trailer for the film is available at https://vimeo.com/80698620 and more on the film and film-maker at http://peterloguefilms.com/.

For more information on either event please call 367-2788


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Made in America: The Daponte String Quartet in Chamber at the Church

Old favorites blend with unique American offerings in this special appearance

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Opera House Arts (OHA) is proud to present the internationally-acclaimed DaPonte String Quartet in a special summer appearance in Chamber at the Church Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 7 p.m.. The concert, Made in America, will feature all American composers, from well known audience favorites such as Samuel Barber’s “Adagio” and George Gershwin’s “Lullaby” to masterful but infrequently heard contemporary American works including Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia,” Earl Stewart’s "Blues Fugues," and George Crumb’s stunning "Black Angels." This is the second concert in OHA’s seven concert Chamber at the Church series. Discounted tickets are available by purchasing a four concert Flex Pass subscription to the series HERE

The DaPonte String Quartet is currently celebrating its 22nd year in Maine. The ensemble was founded in Philadelphia and moved to Maine on a Rural Residency Grant established by the National Endowment for the Arts and Chamber Music America, and are committed to bringing the arts to rural Maine. They have performed in concert halls around the U.S., including Carnegie Hall; as well as in Europe and Canada. The mission of the DaPonte String Quartet is to connect audiences to composers by bringing to life the human context of each score’s creation. They perform over 40 concerts a year from Ogunquit to Fort Kent and Western Maine. The Quartet consists of Ferdinand Liva and Lydia Forbes, Violin; Myles Jordan, Cello; and Kirsten Monke, Viola.

A clip of the Quartet performing excerpts from the George Crumb and one Blues Fugue, during an appearance on WCSH Channel 6's show "207" can be previewed at WCSH's website by clicking HERE Advance tickets are recommended. Single tickets may also be available at the door the evening of the performance.


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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.


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