“The Art of Memory” Screening at Stonington Opera House in Stonington, Maine

Posted on August 1st, 2016 by Figures of Speech


The Art of Memory: Stories from Maine’s Outer Islands
Thursday, September 8 at 8:00pm
Stonington Opera House in Stonington, Maine

The second mainland screening of The Art of Memory will be held in Stonington for those of you on the midcoast. We hope to see you there!


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“the little match girl passion” featured in HUMANITIES

Posted on July 11th, 2016 by Figures of Speech

Figures of Speech Theatre savored a moment of national attention this summer, when HUMANITIES, the quarterly magazine of the National Endowment of theHumanities, featured our production of the little match girl passion in a story celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize. Figures of Speech received a Pulitzer Prize Centennial Campfires Initiative grant, administered by the MaineHumanities Council, to support the final production phase of the little match girl passion, a theatrical setting of American composer David Lang’s Pulitzer-winning work of the same name.Grandmother_and_LMG

Our production takes Lang’s brilliant synthesis of Andersen and Bach and adds a layer of visual poetry to the piece, with a dance of projected shadows, puppet manipulation and masked performance. Rather than illustrating Andersen’s story or the Gospel story in a literal sense, the setting we created extends Lang’s work with imagery examining the spiritual and psychological worlds of the little match girl and her dead Grandmother.

For the world premiere at Bates College, four singers, under the musical direction of longtime FST collaborator Andrea Goodman, delivered Lang’s intricate vocal score with percussion.

After the premiere, John Farrell spoke with Amy Lifson, Assistant Editor at HUMANITIES about his experience directing and building the puppets and mask used in the little match girl passion. Lifson’s article (The Pulitzer Prize Turns 100), published in the Summer 2016 edition, called the show a “haunting, almost sacred tribute,” in which “a magical sense comes from the whole performance.”

We look forward to future opportunities to join you on this journey through the staggeringly beautiful world of Lang’s music.

“The Art of Memory” Screening at The Criterion in Bar Harbor, Maine

Posted on May 9th, 2016 by Figures of Speech

The Art of Memory: Stories from Maine’s Outer Islands
Friday, June 10 at 7:00pm
The Criterion in Bar Harbor, Maine

Over the past year-and-a-half, FST artists have partnered with the Island Institute to work with students from the one-room schoolhouse islands off the coast of Maine: Cliff, Isle au Haut, Islesford, Frenchboro, Matinicus, and Monhegan.

In the spring of 2015, Director of Education Ian Bannon taught the students documentary gathering techniques, which they used to find their favorite oral history from each island. This past fall, four FST artists returned to each island to spend two days filming shadow puppetry adaptations of each of the stories.

Doug & Harry Odom

This collaboration has culminated in a 35-minute shadow puppet film, The Art of Memory, which combines full-scale silhouettes, over-sized caricature masks, puppets, and a mesmerizing depth of field and textures. The film is driven by a beautiful score from FST affiliate artist Dave Noyes as well as narration from some of Portland’s best voiceover actors.

The Bar Harbor screening will be the first of three mainland screenings. The film will be followed by a short Behind the Scenes documentary and Q&A.

The show is appropriate for all ages, perhaps even more so for adults, who will appreciate the historical underpinnings of the stories as well as the engaging visuals and music!

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“The Art of Memory” Island Screenings Underway

Posted on April 28th, 2016 by Figures of Speech

Last night was the first island screening out here on Isle au Haut. We had about 30 or so folks show up for the potluck. The audience loved the movie and found plenty of laughs. It was described as engaging, multi-layered, and sculptural. The behind the scenes documentary tugged at heart strings. Everything you hope for.

Then Parker Waite stepped up and floored all of us.

He talked for 40 minutes about laying the powerline from Isle au Haut to Stonington, splicing the sections at sea along the seven-mile length, his thousands of hours diving on the ocean floor from Vinylhaven to MDI, about rescuing a leatherback turtle that circled his ship three times in gratitude…he was an amazing storyteller. He even brought a length of the cable with him. He said that laying that line was one of the things he’s most proud of in life and he was just delighted to get a chance to speak to people about it.

The islanders truly honored him for his work. Most of them had never heard the story before. Quotes bandied about afterwards ran something like, “That was the most historically informative event in my 30 years on the island.” Parker thanked me as he left.

Last night is what this project was about. Thank you for the stories!

Ian Bannon, Director of Education

Recording Voiceovers for “The Art of Memory”

Posted on March 9th, 2016 by Figures of Speech

Casey Turner

Casey Turner joined FST artists Ian Bannon and Dave Noyes in the studio to record voiceover narration for one of the stories in The FOSSE’s upcoming shadow puppet documentary, The Art of Memory. Little did she know that she’d land in the recording studio of Rustic Overtones, one of her favorite bands growing up. Rock on, Casey!


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Review for the World Premiere of “the little match girl passion”

Posted on January 19th, 2016 by Figures of Speech

Grandmother & Little Match Girl

The world premiere of the little match girl passion was welcomed with sold out performances despite a storm that knocked out power to 25,000 Mainers. We are completely overwhelmed with the response and so pleased to have shared this weekend with you!

If you did not have a chance to join us at the premiere, we invite you to read Megan Grumbling’s review of The Portland Phoenix: Figures of Puppetry: Combination of Influences Provides ‘Refined Essence of Life’.

Thank you to everyone who joined us on this journey.

World Premiere of “the little match girl passion”

Posted on November 12th, 2015 by Figures of Speech

Bunraku puppet of Little Match Girl
Video Still by Derek Kimball

World Premiere in January, 2016

Saturday, January 9 at 7:30pm
Sunday, January 10 at 7:30pm
Monday, January 11 at 7:30pm

Schaeffer Theatre at Bates College, Lewiston

Tickets are $15 for the general public; $10 for Bates College faculty & staff. Bates College students are eligible for free admission but reservations are suggested.

To find out more about the production please call Figures of Speech Theatre at (207) 865-6355 or visit www.figures.org/perform.html#littlematch.

Tickets may be purchased online through Brown Paper Tickets.

Photos from “the little match girl passion”

Posted on June 25th, 2015 by Figures of Speech

“the little match girl passion” had its first public showing at Bates College on June 19 and 20. Thanks to all who came to the workshop production and shared feedback with us. Pictured here are the Grandmother (Carol Farrell) and the Little Match Girl (Ian Bannon, Laura Collard and Dylan Rohman, puppeteers).


All photos by Phyllis Graber Jensen, Director of Photography and Video at Bates College.

the little match girl passion Workshop Performance

Posted on June 17th, 2015 by Figures of Speech

the little match girl passion


the little match girl passion


We invite you to our first public showing of this exquisite new work-in-progress, inspired by David Lang’s composition for four singers and percussion, in which the classic Hans Christian Andersen story of The Little Match Girl is paired with texts from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.


To Figures of Speech Theatre’s signature weave of actors and puppets, filmmaker Derek Kimball adds video imagery of dreamlike beauty. The resulting work is a visionary fusion of astonishing music and visual poetry, powered by mystery and metaphor.


Workshop Performances

Friday, June 19th at 7:00 PM

Saturday, June 20th at 7:00 PM


Schaeffer Theatre on the Bates College campus in Lewiston, Maine


Admission is free. All attendees will receive a two-for-one voucher to the world premiere performance in January 2016!


For more information, contact Figures of Speech Theatre:



Four Quartets in Concord, MA

Posted on May 30th, 2015 by Figures of Speech

“And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” —T.S. Eliot

FST’s John Farrell returns to his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts, for a noontime, July 15 recitation of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets at 51 Walden, Concord’s performing arts consortium. The Egg Rock String Quartet will introduce the recitation with a performance of Beethoven’s Heiliger Dankgesang, a piece Eliot loved.

The event honors Tama and Jiro Ishihara, longtime supporters of 51 Walden, who were John’s next door neighbors from 1954, when the neighborhood was built, to 1965, when John’s family moved to Holland.

Some 28 years later, John stopped by the old neighborhood and found Mr. Ishihara working in the backyard garden. John re-introduced himself and they immediately hit it off. Tama and Jiro became enthusiastic supporters of FST’s work, sponsoring a performance of Dragon’s Daughter at 51 Walden, and traveling to Maine to see She Who Loves and Anerca. John’s renewed friendship with Tama and Jiro lasted until the couple’s passing, in 2005 and 2012, respectively.

July 15, 2015, Wednesday, at 12:00 Noon

Suggested donation: $10
All proceeds from the performance will benefit 51 Walden.

51 Walden Street
Concord, MA

Directions: http://www.51walden.org/directions/