There was lots of work, many rehearsals (never enough) tough music, tight schedule, some kids living miles away, 10 to 18 year olds with adolescent energy and drama, details, details and more details, cold days, rainy days, colds, school conflicts, very limited funds…” writes You Can’t Sit Here co-producer and clarinetist Helen Swallow.
“In the beginning we needed a score and a text- a story for the opera, then we needed microphones for the singers, transportation to Machias with the set for the school shows there, help with set changes, stand lights, batteries and a conductor’s podium, make up and make up expertise, posters programs publicity, endless communications on and on…
“After coaching, arranging, and directing the first three operas, each taking place in a fantastic, distant or historical situation, Greg wanted to create an opera in which the audience and the actors would recognize themselves in their real world.

“Merging the orchestra with the voices seemed impossible but came together pretty quickly. Then the stage directions and acting and set considerations were ironed out. Lacking “stage hands” the actors pitched in. The school desks were too heavy to be lifted so our set changes were a bit noisy. The set and the props had to be simple and sturdy. We rehearsed together weekends for two months. The singers had private coaching at other times. 
The final week was a marathon. It started with the ”tech and dress” rehearsal in which everything is brought together for the first time- costumes, make up, lighting, sound and microphone, set and stage, scene changes. Then the run throughs, rehearsing the show from start to finish with lots of stops and starts.

We did this at the EAC and then after moving everything and regrouping in Machias, did it again. Then came three shows for 7 schools in that area. We returned to Eastport for 4 more school shows. At one show, for students from Sipayik school and Eastport Elementary, the cast was wildly applauded by their school mates in the audience. We enjoyed the last show for the public – it went by smoothly and the cast got their bows and applause and flowers and then a cast party with ice cream and cake and posters for each of them. They signed each other’s posters and added phone numbers as their parents gathered them up to go home.

Photo from a March rehearsal of ‘You Can’t Sit Here’ by Jude Kempe.

Appreciation is extended to the following individuals and groups. Read more about the production and find MANY photos here.
To the families and friends of cast members, who devoted many hours of their time getting the students to rehearsals and performances, assisting with makeup application, feeding the hungry herd, and more.
To those who provided provisions: Melissa Newcomb, Tessa Ftorek, the Waco Diner and Tammy Downes.
To those who helped carry heavy things: Cheyenne Robinson-Bauman, Matt Bauman, Susan Bowles, Phil Krajewski and Steve Schmitt.
To the helpers from the Eastport area theater community: Caitlyn Stellrecht, Ann Moody, Steve Grannis and Bernie Cecire.
And more thanks! To June Gregory, Barbara and Alan Kirchenstein, Meg Colbert, Fundy Bay Printing, Allison Ross, Porcupine Signs, Arles Skinner, Carol Dougherty, Pembroke School, Doug Guy and the Centre Street Congregational Church.

Production roles were as follows:
Director: Brian Schuth
Composer/conductor: Gregory Biss
Author: Catherine J.S. Lee
Producers: Helen Swallow, Sarah Dalton-Phillips
Set design/creation: Chris Grannis and Steve Grannis
Stage manager: Sarah Dalton-Phillips
Tech: Jude Kempe (sound), Dale Dougherty (lights)
Vocal coach: Eustacia Landrum
School coordination: Alison Brennan
Costumes: Molly Vignola
Makeup: Melissa Newcomb, Pam and Shae Barnes, Laura Brown, Tammy Downes, Alison Beers, Audrey Anderson, Molly Vignola, Emma Mallar, Lauren Koss
House managers: Meg Colbert, Carol Dougherty, Lauren Koss, Annette Mallar
Documentation: Carol Dougherty, Jude Kempe, Lauren Koss, Bernie Cecire
Poster: John Leavitt and Lauren Koss
Publicity: Lauren Koss
Poster Distribution: Mary Anderson, Lauren Koss, Helen Swallow, Rosalie Woodward

Violin: Nadine Biss
Cello: Ellen Krajewski
Viola: Sineidin O’Niall
Flute: June Gregory
Clarinet: Helen Swallow
Bass Clarinet: Brian Schuth
French Horn: Tom Wheeler
Percussion/Baritone Horn: Gene Nichols
Piano: Jane Lanctot

Liam: William E. Skinner, age 12
Lizette: Nora Brown, age 10
Audrey: Molly Faith Vignola, age 15
Mason: Wyatt Beers, age 13
Zinnia: Emma Mallar, age 12
Mother/Ms. Forbish: Audrey Andrews, age 18
Father: Lino Perez, age 17
Students: Darby-Ann Downes, age 10; Robin Leavitt, age 10; Torin Barnes, age 11.