Not Your Kukla, Fran, and Ollie

Posted on October 21st, 2017 by Figures of Speech

Not Your Kukla, Fran, and Ollie
Tuesday, October 31 from 9:30-11:30 AM

FST Co-Founders, John and Carol, will demolish your preconceptions about the puppet theater and share their evolution from childhood buddies to international touring artists. Hear their story and experience their unique performance, which melds puppetry with dance, sculpture, poetry, and music in a theatrical form that defies categorization and celebrates the metaphorical power of puppets.

Each fall and spring, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Southern Maine presents SAGE, a series of Tuesday morning lectures that cover a wide array of topics of current interest. The speakers are recognized experts from the arts, government, non-profit, education, business, and civic communities in Maine.

The Wishcamper Center, Room 102
University of Southern Maine, Portland

$10 admission; $25 OLLI Membership required

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2017 Maine Arts Commission Grant Recipients

Posted on October 18th, 2017 by Figures of Speech

We are thrilled to announce that the Maine Arts Commission has awarded FST two grants for the coming year. (We’re also thrilled to announce that they still have enough funding to give grants!)

An Arts and Humanities Grant, issued jointly by the MAC and the Maine Humanities Council, will be used to support a tour of free performances of Four Quartets to libraries in Maine’s mid-coast region in 2018. There is still room for partnering libraries to join this tour. Please contact us if you would like more information.

MAC’s Arts Learning Grant will be used to support a community-wide educational residency in Eastport, Maine this winter in partnership with the Eastport Arts Center. FST artists will spend an intensive week with 7th & 8th grade students, adapting local tales into live shadow plays in the latest iteration of The Art of Memory: Stories from Eastport.  During the week, our artists will spend two additional hours with every K-6 student in the district and offer a master class for adults. Stories from Eastport will be performed live for the entire community on Friday!

Please join us in thanking the Maine Arts Commission and Maine Humanities Council for generously supporting our work this season.

Pontine Theatre presents Four Quartets

Posted on October 10th, 2017 by Figures of Speech

T.S. Eliot & John Farrell

Four Quartets
Friday, November 3 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, November 4 at 4:00 PM
Sunday, November 5 at 2:00 PM

ATTENTION POETRY LOVERS! Come see, hear, and feel the entirety of T.S. Eliot’s poetic masterpiece, Four Quartets, nearly a thousand lines of rapturous (and devilishly hard to memorize) poetry, recited live by FST’s Artistic Director John Farrell.

Presented by Pontine Theatre in collaboration with Newington Historical Society.

Newington Old Town Hall
336 Nimble Hill Road
Newington, NH 03801

Purchase Tickets Online

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Nightingale performance at Opera House Arts

Posted on July 24th, 2017 by Figures of Speech

Wednesday, July 26 at 7:00pm
Stonington, Maine

We’re thrilled to bring our performance of Nightingale to Stonington as part of Opera House Arts’ annual Live! for $5 series. Live for $5 consists of 6 hour-long, live performances held on Wednesdays throughout the summer designed so everyone, regardless of age, can enjoy live theatre.

Nightingale is an exotic, musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story of the Emperor who is moved by the song of a plain gray bird, until he receives the gift of a jeweled mechanical bird with which he becomes obsessed. The production gently stresses the importance of connection with Nature, and with the true essences of life.

The Stonington Opera House
1 Opera House Lane
Stonington ME 04681

$5 – Box Office opens at 6:30pm

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FST Wraps Filming on Holly Star

Posted on April 17th, 2017 by Figures of Speech

This winter, our entire team of affiliate puppeteers and designers were called upon when FST was contracted to create puppets and sets for Holly Star, a feature-length film being produced in Maine.
The project was the primary focus of our creative and administrative time for four months, and included the challenge of pioneering the common ground between the film and puppet worlds, ensuring that both FST and the film team could achieve our goals, and integrating the two forms’ strengths and aesthetics. In the end, we were able to bring into the fold three new puppeteers and a new set designer while participating in a creative project that opens us up to a massive new audience.

We have attached some behind-the-scenes photos from the film set in case you’re curious, and will be sure to pass along information about the final film when it is released.

John Farrell
Artistic Director


John Farrell on the set of Holly Star

John Farrell on the set of Holly Star


Laura Collard puppeteers Santa, watched by Dylan Rohman and Vanessa Romanoff

Laura Collard puppeteers Santa, watched by Dylan Rohman and Vanessa Romanoff


Puppet Set Designer John Sundling puts the final touches on Santa's Workshop

Puppet Set Designer John Sundling puts the final touches on Santa’s Workshop


Ian Bannon puppeteers Sloan

Ian Bannon puppeteers Sloan


Andy puppet moves a Christmas tree

Andy puppet moves a Christmas tree

FST Commissioned for Feature-Length Film

Posted on December 29th, 2016 by Figures of Speech

FST has been commissioned to create a series of puppets and sets for Holly Star, a feature-length film being produced in Maine this winter. The romantic comedy follows frustrated NYC puppeteer Sloan home to Maine for the holidays for some soul searching and a touch of love.

Pictured above is Santa, one of the eight characters featured in a series of puppet sequences.

Writer/Director Michael Nickles had originally written the role of Sloan as a stop-motion animator, but after seeing a demonstration of our Little Match Girl puppet, he re-worked the screenplay to make Sloan a puppeteer. Her childhood memories will be created in FST’s signature puppet style, with set elements shot separately and added with post-production magic. We can’t wait to start filming!

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FST awarded Creative Aging Grant by the Maine Arts Commission

Posted on September 19th, 2016 by Figures of Speech


The Maine Arts Commission has awarded Figures of Speech Theatre a Creative Aging Grant in the amount of $1,000 to support an inter-generational celebration of creativity, storytelling, and puppetry.

The project will be a collaboration between Freeport’s Figures of Speech Theatre and The Park Danforth and St. Brigid School in Portland.

From October through May, Figures of Speech Theatre Director of Education, Ian Bannon will facilitate shared storytelling sessions with assisted-living residents at The Park Danforth. Bannon, a certified TimeSlips facilitator, will use the model to create a fun, supportive atmosphere for risk taking.

TimeSlips is a collaborative storytelling format that was originally designed for people with memory impairments and other cognitive disabilities. TimeSlips provides an ideal way for people with cognitive challenges to communicate and share in a collective affirmation as creative individuals. Anne Basting, the founder of Timeslips, was named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow just this week!

In April, Ian will work with four-dozen elementary students from nearby St. Brigid School to devise large-scale shadow puppet adaptations of six stories generated by the residents of The Park Danforth. The students from St. Brigid School will benefit from a positive, cross-generational exchange designed around the issue of memory loss. At the same time, numerous common core objectives (in language arts, performance, visual arts, and speaking and listening) will be addressed as they devise their performances.

In May, the students will perform their adaptations for the original storytellers at The Park Danforth. Local musician and frequent Figures of Speech collaborator Dave Noyes will compose a lush, live score during rehearsals and in the final performance.

TimeSlips facilitators call the culminating event a “celebration” and it is intended to foster pride in the residents. The residents’ families in attendance often gain a newfound appreciation for what the residents are capable of as well as ideas for new ways in which to interact with them. The performances will be followed by an ice cream social…something people of all ages enjoy!

The Maine Arts Commission is an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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