LEARNING FROM WORK The on-farm experience is key to the stories.
Last summer, four theater artists experienced a rather different kind of arts residency: They spent months on three local farms, planting, weeding, and talking with farm workers. Their time on the farms was the first stage in Of Farms and Fables, a larger, year-long project of Open Waters Theatre Arts. Of Farms and Fables draws on theater and storytelling to stimulate community dialogue about the future of Maine farms and farm workers, and will culminate in a run of fully produced performances — performed by both actors and farm workers — this October. In the meantime, the fruits of its most recent stage of development will be shared with the public next week, when local actors will present a reading of the first draft of its script.
The text comes from weekly meetings the core ensemble — actor Keith Anctil, playwright Cory Tamler, company manager Claire Guyer, and director Jennie Hahn — has had since their farm residencies, to identify questions that seemed relevant to their experiences, to farm workers, and to our broader community of consumers.
Hahn praises Tamler's first draft for how well it balances broad concerns — the role of family and tradition on farms, the effects of sudden change on farms and our food, the definition of "local" — with the visceral implications they have for the lives of individual people. Hahn gives an example of the project's concern with both the micro and the macro: "On the one hand, we might have a cow raised in Freeport, slaughtered in Aroostook Country, packaged in New Jersey, and sold in Portland, and ask — is it local? On the other hand, that cow is raised by a person with a particular, meaningful relationship to the cow and the land." Of Farms and Fables hopes to foster dialogue that recognizes both the big issues in farming and the individual people who make that work their lives.
The first draft of Of Farms and Fables will be read by ten local actors, including ensemble member Anctil, as well as Jane Ackermann, Brent Askari, Virginia Collins, Gus Febles, Mohammed Kebdani, Patricia Mew, Christopher Reiling, Jeffrey Roberts, and Bess Welden.
OF FARMS AND FABLESSTAGED READING | April 14 @ 7:30 pm | at SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St, Portland | free | farmsandfables.blogspot.com