Eastport Arts Center

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You Can’t Sit Here, an original opera for children

Friday, March 29 @ 7:00 pm

You Can’t Sit Here, an original children’s opera from Eastport Arts Center’s Music for Children project, will be presented for 5th through 8th grade students from 15 local schools at the end of this month, followed by an evening performance for the public, Friday, March 29 at 7 pm, at Eastport Arts Center. The characters are students at a small elementary school who experience loneliness, anger and frustration in reaction to bullying, isolation, loss of status and school mores. Gregory Biss composed the music to a story written by Catherine J.S. Lee, who also created the song lyrics. 

The piece, which from conflict reaches a solution and satisfying finale, was devised by its creators in hope of making a work to which actors and audiences could readily and personally relate. The Music for Children team’s previous projects took cast and audience out of everyday life, far from Washington County: first Peter and the Wolf (2014), Hansel and Gretel (2016) and then, with Brundibár (2018), to Czechoslovakia in wartime. You Can’t Sit Here takes place in the present, in the elementary school of a small seaside town in Maine.

One unifying factor of all of the Music for Children productions has been a multi-layered emotional and educational experience for attendees. Unlike the usual theatrical placement of musicians out of view, for these shows the orchestra is on the stage alongside the actors to allow attendees to see all of the instruments being played and to show the relation of the music to the action.

The actors, aged 10 to 18 and hailing from Charlotte, Eastport, Machiasport, Perry and Pembroke, are William E. Skinner, Molly Faith Vignola, Emma Mallar, Wyatt Beers, Nora Brown, Audrey Andrews, Lino Perez, Darby-Ann Downes, Robin Leavitt and Torin Barnes.

The musicians, conducted by Gregory Biss, are Nadine Biss, violin; Ellen Krajewski, cello; June Gregory, alto flute; Sineidin O’Niall, viola; Helen Swallow, clarinet; Brian Schuth, bass clarinet; Tom Wheeler, French horn; Gene Nichols and Artemis Dolan, percussion; and Jane Lanctot, piano.

The production team includes Brian Schuth, director; Sarah Dalton-Phillips and Helen Swallow, producers; Chris and Steve Grannis, set designers/producers; Eustacia Landrum, vocal coach; Jude Kempe and Dale Dougherty, sound and lights; Molly Vignola, costumes; Melissa Newcomb and Tammy Downes, makeup; and Sarah Dalton-Phillips, stage manager.

Students in grades 5-8 from Alexander, Calais, Charlotte, Cutler, East Machias, Eastport, Edmunds, Jonesboro, Jonesport, Lubec, Machiasport, Perry, Pembroke, Sipayik, and Whiting will attend daytime shows March 25-28, in Machias and Eastport. Homeschooling families are invited to attend one of these performances; please contact Helen Swallow, hswallow40@gmail.com, to reserve seats. 

All are welcome for the Friday, March 29 performance; tickets are $12, with attendees age 17 and under admitted free of charge. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Tickets are available here, or will be for sale starting 30 minutes prior to the show at the EAC box office.

You Can’t Sit Here is presented with support from the Maine Community Foundation.

Eastport Arts Center is at 36 Washington Street, Eastport, and at www.eastportartscenter.org, and is handicapped-accessible. EAC abides by the State of Maine CDC COVID guidelines, revisiting our policy monthly. At this time, the use of masks in our building is optional. 

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The work of Eastport Arts Center is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. The work of Eastport Arts Center is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.