FST awarded Creative Aging Grant by the Maine Arts Commission

Posted on September 19th, 2016 by Figures of Speech

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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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“The Art of Memory” Screening at Mayo Street Arts in Portland, Maine

Posted on August 22nd, 2016 by Figures of Speech

The Art of Memory: Stories from Maine’s Outer Islands
Friday, September 23 at 7:00pm
Mayo Street Arts in Portland, Maine

The third and final mainland screening of The Art of Memory will be held at Mayo Street Arts, which has emerged as Southern Maine’s new home for puppetry.

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“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.