Eastport Arts Center

where creativity and community meet

EAC Prepares for Visiting Star Ed Asner

While the surrounding community hastily prepares for winter, with final garden harvests, wood chores and weatherizing, the EAC has been a hive of another type of activity. In preparation for the advent of actor Ed Asner, who’ll appear with local cast members in a political comedy on October 12 and 13, EAC staff and community members are hard at work building ‘Heaven’ as a stage set, since Asner’s show casts the star as God himself. Meanwhile, four local performers are preparing for ‘Heaven-sent’ roles opposite the 8-time Emmy award-winning icon. The production will be put together at high speed, with Asner arriving with his producer and director on Friday for opening night on Saturday. 
“It is indeed a quick turn around,” said Liza Asner, Ed’s daughter, assistant and the show’s producer. “The local actors have been rehearsing by the time we get into town and then do table reads while the director works on programming light and sound cues with local theatre’s tech director.” The show, which has been staged so far this year in small towns in Tennessee, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania and California, and which heads to Eastport after concluding a run in Montana, is headed next to Mabou, Nova Scotia for an October 18 performance. Each venue meets the Asner team midway, creating their own iteration of the celestial set, costumes and by finding cast members. “I thought it would be great to feature local actors in the show,” said Liza. “It adds a local flavor … and has been well received by the communities we land in.” And to the oft-repeated question, ‘Why Eastport,’ Liza replied, “I had reached out hoping to add a show before Canada and Chris Grannis jumped on it!” 
Pausing from stagecraft work with her husband Steve Grannis, EAC Director Chris Grannis noted with her quick grin some of the many volunteers who’ve stepped up to aid the production: Bernie Cecire will assist with sound; Colby Stoker will run the light board; Sally DeCicco has been working on costumes; and set dressers/painters will include the Grannises plus Cathy Adelman, Jude Kempe, and Lauren Koss. EAC’s Island Institute Fellow Mark Macey will fill in ‘for God,’ reading Asner’s lines as part of practices with local cast members Jenie Smith, Peter Frewen, Ann Cornelison and Brian Giles.
“I have had a crush on Ed Asner for decades now,” confessed Cornelison, who’ll fill one of two nonspeaking roles as an angel who doubles as a stage hand. “To say that this opportunity is a dream come true would assume that it ever occurred to me that it was even remotely within the realm of possible dreams.” Cornelison, who divides her time between Eastport and the Texas Hill Country, has enjoyed a career of mostly comic roles with Stage East. “I admire his acting and his activism, and I hope I do not dissolve completely in his presence. I guess God has that affect on people.” 
The other angelic performer will be “The Reverend” Brian Giles, a stand-up comic, educator and off-grid homesteader. “I used to do theater but have found it is so time consuming that I cannot make it, my kids, my job, and my chores all fit on the same schedule,” explained Giles. “This was a unique opportunity to do theater in a dine and dash fashion! No month-long rehearsal schedule, just four days of fun! Also, I am a fan of Ed Asner mostly because he is the most Santa a Santa can be. I dig Santa a bunch.”
“Mr. Asner has long been a hero of mine, both as an actor and as a progressive thinker,” noted Jenie Smith, who will portray a conservative opposite husband Peter Frewen, who’ll play a liberal. “What a gas for me to play counter to my own political bent, and fun for Peter to not be his usual ‘grumpy man’ role. We’re memorizing like mad in hopes that we will not make fools of ourselves in front of Mr. Asner and the rest of his company!” Smith and Frewen, familiar faces for Washington County theater-goers have appeared frequently on the EAC stage in Stage East and Magnificent Liars productions, as well as in musical performances. “An opportunity to learn from [Asner] is … unreal and awesome,” continued Smith. “After the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ I was a ‘Lou Grant’ devotee, and his acting on that was a huge draw for me. Thereafter, his work for multiple causes towards making the world better has incurred my great admiration. We are grateful beyond measure for this opportunity.”
“This is a very interesting year ahead of us leadership wise. I think this show is wonderful, funny, topical and important,”
notes Liza. “It’s a way to open a conversation about that scary word, ‘politics’. Politics is in everything we do in life but the show is more about ethics, ethics that people refer to as politics, but are really ethics—instilled in us from youth.  And we will all feel differently about certain issues. We must come to an understanding that not everyone will agree on issues and the sooner we accept this, the more we will be willing to walk in each other’s shoes.”
Tickets for both performances are sold out at this writing. More information about programs of Eastport Arts Center, ‘where creativity and community meet’ may be found at eastportartscenter.org.

Eastport Gallery Hosted Pirate Jazz Jam

Eastport Gallery member Joan Lowden, “the bass lady,” led a group of musicians for a jazz jam on the gallery’s deck as part of August’s first Friday art walk and Eastport Pirate Festival’s opening day. Performers included familiar EAC faces Allan Gore, cajon, Alberta Hunter, guitar, Lauren Koss, vocals, percussion and kazoo, and Lee Suta, clarinet.

EAC Welcomes Mark Macey, Island Institute Fellow

EAC is thrilled to announce its selection by the Island Institute, a Rockland organization that works to sustain island and remote coastal communities of Maine, as host site for Island Fellow Mark Macey. The Island Fellow program places recent college graduates in communities for one to two years, with objectives to meet community-stated needs through project-based work; increase capacity for local management of cultural, natural, historical, economic and informational resources; and assist local research, planning, education and technology projects. 
Macey is EAC’s third Island Fellow; he was preceded by Tarah Waters and Naphtali Fields. He is a performance and theatre artist who works across disciplines. A graduate of Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre, he also holds a BA in Theatre Studies from the University of Utah. He is the founder and producer of Suckerpunch, a performance research collective whose productions range from multimedia installations to short films.
Macey’s tenure in Eastport will aim “to enliven theater arts in the area with Stage East and the EAC,” said EAC Director, Chris Grannis.
“The performing arts are where we come to share ideas and experiences and gain perspective,” noted Macey. “I believe in a theatre that not only entertains its community but offers it a place to see its hopes, concerns, and contentions played out. To me, theatre should be by, for, and about the community it serves.”

Summer Workshop Series Concludes with In-depth Ceramic Sculpture Experience

A weekend spent sculpting under the tutelage of Elizabeth Ostrander was a dream come true for the participants of this very popular August workshop. Inspired by Icelandic fairies, sea creatures, totem art, goddesses including Sedna the Eskimo goddess of the sea and others, each artist worked with paper clay to create a fully realized piece. Once these sculptures are completely dry, Ostrander will fire them in her kiln.

“I went to the workshop just a bit apprehensive about my ability to sculpt with clay,” said Mary Anderson, “but I was pretty sure Elizabeth would be a good teacher, and she was. She got me through the process of building up the clay base and encouraged be to have fun with the process. Taking her advice, I did let the clay lead me to make a really cartoonish and fun wild hare. I now have a better appreciation of what it takes to be a great sculptor like Elizabeth.”

Ostrander noted: “The first day everyone was learning how to ‘listen’ to their clay. By the second day everyone ‘heard,’ and what wonders were created—just fabulous work!
Stay tuned for more EAC workshop offerings coming up, or check out EAC education programs on our site.

Life Drawing Workshop Seeks Models

Models/performers are sought to pose for EAC’s Life Drawing Workshop. Each drawing session begins with a series of short poses, ending with an hour-long pose. Those interested in modeling need no previous experience, as the workshop facilitator will discuss with them what is needed in advance of the drawing session, and there is a generous fee for the two hours of modeling. Also, photography of the models is not permitted.
Those interested in modeling, or seeking more information about the drawing workshop should email Hopkins at anneshieldshopkins@gmail.com. Eastport Arts Center is at 36 Washington Street, Eastport, and is fully handicapped-accessible.

EAC, Stage East Featured in Podcast Series by Harvard Grad Quinn Rose

Setting the Stage is a four-part narrative podcast that tells the true story of the Stage East theater in Eastport. It features interviews with members of the Eastport community and Cornerstone Theater Company. The story begins in 1990, when a group of idealistic theater majors arrived in a sleepy fishing village with one lofty goal: to create a theater that could sustain itself in a rural, economically disadvantaged, and socially divided community. This is the story of Eastport, Maine, Cornerstone Theater Company, and the decades that followed.
Interviewees include: Jean Wilhelm, Joyce Weber, Barbara Smith, Jay Skriletz, Ann Skriletz, Brian Schuth, David Reiffel, Lynn Mitchell, Meg McGarvey, Chris Grannis, Lou Esposito, James Bundy, Alison Brennan and Greg Biss.
Listen online or download episodes at settingthestagepodcast.com.

Setting the Stage creator Quinn Rose (Quinn Sluzenski) was born and raised in Charlotte, Maine, and started attending EAC programs regularly when she joined Eastport Strings in elementary school. She played with the orchestra until her high school graduation in 2014, and came back to the EAC as a publicity intern in the summer of 2015. In the summer of 2018, Quinn wrote for the Quoddy Tides and interviewed a dozen members of the community to produce Setting the Stage.
Quinn graduated from Harvard College in 2018 with a degree in sociology and a minor in theater, dance, and media. She currently lives in Chicago, IL, where she works as a freelance podcast producer and editor, and spends a lot of time thinking about and watching theater. Learn more about Quinn’s work at aspiringrobot.com.

Youth Theater Group’s Wacky Spring Show Treated Audience to Lots of Laughs

Tension mounts in act two as Roy Duffy as Sir Bedevere outlines to King Arthur (Marion Look) a daring plan to attack the Castle Aaaargh, while Sir Lancelot (Kieran Weston), Sir Robin (Erin Harrell) and Patsy (Liam Rouleau) listen in. EAC’s Children’s Theater Workshop, with 15 young participants from Eastport, Perry, Pembroke, Trescott and St. Stephen, N.B., presented Of Kings and Coconuts, an adaptation of Monty Python’s The Search for the Holy Grail, to a delighted audience on April 20. Photo by Brandy Argir.

EAC’s Children’s Theater Workshop presented Of Kings and Coconuts, an adaptation of Monty Python’s The Search for the Holy Grail, to a delighted audience on April 20. The group, which had 15 participants who came from as far away as St. Stephen, NB, and Trescott, and from as nearby as ‘next door,’ worked on the show every Saturday but one since late January. Familiar to some but hilarious to all—as affirmed by attendee David Brass, who’d never seen the Monty Python original—the young performers’ renditions of “The Bridge of Death,” “The Knights of Ni,” “The Castle Aaargh,” the “Bring Out Your Dead” sketch and the peasant’s diatribe kept the audience laughing loudly and smiles on all faces.

Kieran Weston, calling “Bring out your dead!” (left) has humorous difficulty with Tucker Thompson and Ivy Owens: “I’m not dead yet!” Photo by Brandy Argir.
In this scene, Roy Duffy as Sir Bedevere, Marion Look as King Arthur and Rachel Bailey as Sir Galahad, with an entourage including Liam Rouleau, Zephyr Nickerson and Erin Harrell, are viciously taunted by the French Guard, played with gusto by Tucker Thompson. Photo by John Leavitt.

“We had lots of fun, and were proud of the work we did,” noted Director, Chris Grannis. “Our next project will have a shorter-term rehearsal commitment and will be part of EAC’s annual Moose Island Follies show. We are looking for a short skit—ideas welcomed. It could be a short spoof commercial, a poem acted out, or a piece of music.” Those interested in participating in CTW’s new project should email Chris, chris@eastportartscenter.org.
Children’s Theater Workshop is a free program supported in part by a generous donation from Michael Tucket.

Among the 15 participants in Children’s Theater Workshop’s Of Kings and Coconuts were Zephyr Nickerson (from left), Cadence Nickerson, Owen Leavitt, Rachel Bailey, Roy Duffy, Marion Look and Kali Wallender. Photo by Brandy Argir.

Special thanks are extended by the show’s director, Chris Grannis:
“To all of the parents who provided invaluable help to this production by raising amazing children, and driving them all over the place to support their interests. Also, thanks to:

Cathy Adelman who helped in many ways as a volunteer gatherer, seamstress, painter, etc.
Cash Adelman, 10, from Parsonsfield Maine, who helped paint set pieces.
Colby Stoker, sound effects director, who was willing to jump in during heck week.
Marissa Stoker who came willing to play, and constructed an amazing Knight of Ni helmet.
Pam Koenig who gave us a good head start with costuming.
Susan Lehnen who joined the fray and helped with set pieces.
Wren Fraser who was sorry to miss the production after attending rehearsals but flew south over school break week.
Susan Bailey who was at most rehearsals and was of great support by being ‘on book’ for the actors and also with her creative painting on set.
Peg Richardson who stepped up and made us a cake.
Steve Grannis who willingly (it seems; he may be a good actor) helps create whatever crazy idea I have.”

The after-party cake, featuring fearsome bunny, was made by Peg Richardson. Photo by Brandy Argir.

Participants included:
Rachel Bailey, 27, of Eastport: Sir Galahad and Reporter’s wife.
Roy Duffy, 14, of Perry: the Reporter, Sir Knight of Ni, Sir Bedevere and Brother Maynard.
Siobhan Duffy, 15, of Perry: the Narrator and God.
Erin Harrell, 8, of St. Stephen, NB: a Ni Person and Sir Robin.
Abby Leavitt, 15, of Trescott and Pembroke: Light Operator.
Owen Leavitt, 13, of Pembroke and Trescott: Old Man Soothsayer, Tim the Enchanter and the Bridgekeeper, and sound effects.
Marion Look, 13, of Eastport: King Arthur; also of invaluable help to the director and a helper with props and set.
Cadence Nickerson, 15, of Pembroke: Dennis the Serf, the Black Knight, and Roger the Shrubber, and sound effects.
Zephyr Nickerson, 9, of Pembroke: the English Guard and the Green Knight, and sound effects.
Ivy Owens, 8, of St. Stephen, NB: the Not Quite Dead Person, a Ni Person and the Fierce Bad Bunny, and sound effects.
Liam Rouleau, 7 of St. Stephen, NB: King Arthur’s Patsy and Brother, and boulder construction help.
Tucker Thompson,12, of Eastport: the Customer, French Guard and Tim 1.
Kali Wallender, 13, of Eastport: Mrs. Dennis and the Old Crone, sound effects and stage hand.
Kieran Weston, 13, of Eastport: the Dead Collector and Sir Lancelot.

Director Chris Grannis is shown doing some behind-the-scenes work on the castle, which occasionally is a menacing rock wall (above), and helping a performer on stage, as the set (including cardboard boulders and vegetation) comes together.

Sound effects: Colby Stoker
Set building & painting: Steve Grannis, Susan Bailey, Marion Look, Kieran Weston, Cash Adelman, Catherine Adelman, Lindy Weston, Susan Lehnen and Shelly Thompson.

Wool Felting Double Header Enmeshed Participants in a Fascinating Medium

Meg McGarvey selects colored roving as part of a workshop in wet-felted fiber beads. Photo by Brandy Argir

Participants in Audra Christie’s back-to-back wool felting workshops on April 27 and 28 immersed themselves in gloriously colored and textured wool roving and batting, hot sudsy water, and a special camaraderie as all engaged with the near-magical material in the transformation process of wet felting. The Saturday group learned to make spherical beads and the more complex sushi roll beads, similar to millefiori glass work. Necklaces, key fobs and earrings were then formed from the beads. Sunday’s group (which had six in attendance from the previous day) took on the lengthier task of creating a wet felted vessel, and spent nearly four hours in carefully building up the layers of malleable material, then shaping the resulting forms. Some attendees became so enamored of this process as a result of the felting immersion weekend that ongoing felt experiments are a new passion. Learn more about Audra Christie, a returning EAC instructor who taught us the art of Painting with Wool in May 2018 (needle-felting an image onto a wet-felted wool sheet) at her website, audrachristie.com. And watch for a wealth of summer workshops opportunities coming soon!

A felted wool vessel, product of a satisfying if laborious process, is shown filled with experimental felted cording made the day after the workshop by a participant who just can’t stop felting. Photo by Lauren Koss

For more information about EAC education and outreach programs, please visit our Education page or email Alison Brennan, Education & Outreach Director, at alison@eastportartscenter.org. EAC workshops are partially funded by the Maine Community Foundation’s Belvedere Handcrafts Grant; a sliding scale for fees is available by request.

Arts Campers Reached for the Stars

Eastport Arts Center’s April vacation week arts campers are shown with some of their outer space themed creations. Instructor Sara Myrick is at top left.

Rocket ships, UFOs, aliens, pastel space paintings and more added up to an action-packed Outer Space themed April Vacation Arts Camp April 16-18 at Eastport Arts Center. Thirteen children from Eastport, Robbinston, Pembroke, Edmunds, Parsonsfield, Bangor, Scarborough and as far away as Bolivia (South America) explored their ideas of extra-terrestrial life, intergalactic travel and heavenly bodies, using a wide variety of media.

The busy supplies table included a found object bin in which campers enjoyed rummaging for parts for their aliens and spaceships.

Instructor Sara Myrick ingeniously provided multiple project options each day for the arts campers so each could gravitate towards whichever art supplies and techniques they found most appealing, simultaneously assuring that attendees ranging from 6 to 13 years of age would all be engaged. In addition, she encouraged the young people to continue to experiment with her designs to come up with their own solutions, such as with a wee paper rocket built to be launched by the child’s burst of breath through a drinking straw.  

Sara Myrick demonstrates for April vacation week arts campers how to launch their paper rockets via a drinking straw. 

“I am continually amazed with the innovativeness of children,” said Myrick after the camp. “I can show them a simple idea and they find their own way of expanding on it. Arts camp attracts children who enjoy creating independently and who like to work together on projects. It’s been such a fun session.”

Myrick, who teaches K-12 art in the Eastport schools, will be one of the instructors for EAC’s Summer Workshop Series, which begins in June. The center’s next Arts Camp—with popular leaders Ann Cannizzaro and Willy Claflin—will take place in July, and feature a North Woods Adventures theme. For more information about EAC’s outreach and education programs, please visit our page or email Alison Brennan, alison@eastportartscenter.org.  EAC workshops are partially funded by the Maine Community Foundation’s Belvedere Handcrafts Grant; a sliding scale for fees is available by request.

Schuth Show a Spring Treat for EAC

Sam and Henry Schuth rehearse for their evening concert. Photo by Brandy Argir

Sam Schuth, a familiar face for Eastport music-goers of nearly two decades, arrived home for a visit, musical friends in tow, on April 12. His April 13 recital presented a pleasing array of flavors and styles, and the near-full house clearly appreciated his efforts. In addition to performing solo renditions of Bach’s Chaconne and Misty Mazzoli’s Dissolve, O My Heart, Sam brought Portland-based musicians Max Eddington, piano, and Kinnon Church, bass, to join him for a mesmerizing rendition of Haydn’s Gypsy Trio.

Sam Schuth treated the EAC audience to a recital on April 13. Photo by Brandy Argir.
After humorously serving as stage hands for the first portion of the show, Sam’s brothers, Henry and Frank Schuth got to jump in musically for a set of Schuth Faktori tunes, to the delight of audience members of all ages, but perhaps especially for those who ‘knew them back when.’
“While enjoying Sam Schuth’s concert last week the years just flew right by, back to when I watched three young boys, barely babies, play their instruments in Eastport Strings,” said Chris Grannis. “Suddenly, all worries left … How wonderful to see our children grow up to be such talented and generous adults.”

—EAC is pleased to announce that Sam will be back this summer as part of our Concert Series—on August 9! Stay tuned for details.—

« Older posts

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.