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BANGOR – Bangor’s professional theatre company is getting ready to kick off the 2019-2020 season.

Penobscot Theatre Company is launching into its 46th season in just a couple of weeks. The company has been a mainstay of the region’s cultural scene since its very beginnings back in 1973 – nearly half-a-century ago – growing right along with myriad other aspects of the city’s vibrant evolution.

For year 46, Artistic Director Bari Newport and her team have put together another interesting, engaging season – one aimed at connecting with all manner of audiences.

“We pride ourselves on doing a wide variety of work,” Newport said. “And next season is a perfect example. The wide demographic that we reach, both geographically and in terms of interest level. ‘I like comedies.’ ‘I like to bring my family.’ ‘I like new work.’ ‘I like musicals.’ ‘I like historical pieces.’ ‘I like dramas.’ We truly reach a wide variety of different types of people and I want our season to reflect that.”

It is a wide-ranging season, to be sure – from musicals and dramas to farces and one-woman shows, this program has got them all. If the mission is to try to come up with something for everyone, it seems clear that this is mission accomplished.

“We've been really focused on being distinctive,” said Newport. “And I think that we are. I think that our work is very much our own. I think it’s vibrant and optimistic and colorful – energetic. We try to really dig in to every aspect.” 

Let’s take a closer look at PTC’s 2019-2020.

BANGOR – There’s another great slate of shows gracing the stage of the Gracie Theatre this season.

The Gracie Theatre – located on the campus of Husson University – will be presenting a wide range of entertainment over the course of this season, their eighth. Music and comedy and more will be offered up to arts lovers and cultural consumers of the region.

The Gracie has been a welcome part of the region’s creative scene for years now, one that has thrived over the past eight years, bringing a wonderful and diverse crop of performers to their Bangor stage every season. This year’s slate is no exception, featuring some fun new acts and a familiar face or two.

Jeri Misler, the managing director (and more!) of the Gracie, was kind enough to answer a few questions from The Maine Edge about the upcoming season and what it means to put a program like this together.

ORONO – It’s another big year for the CCA.

The Collins Center for the Arts is heading into its 34th season of exceptional arts programming on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono.

The CCA – formerly known as the Maine Center for the Arts – has been a vital hub for the performing arts in the region ever since the Bangor Symphony Orchestra christened its stage all the way back in 1986. The iconic building has played host to memorable acts large and small over the years, bringing a wonderful variety of arts and entertainment to our area.

The Collins Center is a foundational piece of the region’s cultural community; for over three decades, they have been a key part of the scene, offering quality programming at affordable prices year after year.

The 2019-2020 season is no exception, with a wonderful variety of music, theater and dance aimed at audiences of all ages. As per usual, the powers that be at the CCA have managed to ensure that there really is something for everyone. No surprise there – accessibility has always been a watchword for the organization.

Danny Williams, the CCA’s Executive Director, and Associate Director Karen Cole sat down with The Maine Edge to discuss some of the highlights of the upcoming season. Williams hit the ground running with a story about the performer officially opening the CCA season on Sept. 13, the legendary Chubby Checker.

As we prepare to hurtle headlong into the dog days of August, we should do our best to really embrace the opportunities for outdoor fun provided by the too-brief summer months. The clock is ticking – it’s time to really start leaning the fun in the sun portion of 2019. Even the cruelest of weather patterns will allow us a few days over the coming weeks in which to get out and enjoy what the season has to offer.

However, there’s only so much lounging one can do. There are only so many places to go for a swim. And sometimes, you’re looking for something fun that doesn’t involve taking a trip to the coast or to your favorite dipping spot.

That’s where lawn games come in.

Nothing says summertime quite like being out in your yard with a frosty beverage in your hand and the scent of the grill in your nostrils. If you can add an element of competition to that, how can you go wrong?

There are plenty of traditional games that many of us have played since we were kids and will likely bring back fond (or not-so-fond) memories of Julys gone by. However, there are also some more adult-oriented games that prove to be a lot of fun as well.

We’re going to take a look at a few personal favorites. We’ll revisit a couple of classics, but we’ll also bring some newer games to the table – some that you may have heard of before, others you may not have. And among these newer games, chances are good that you’ll find at least one that speaks to you in that so-special “crush your enemies and see them driven before you” summertime kind of way.

(As an aside, if there’s anyone out there with a set of vintage lawn darts that they’re looking to get rid of, by all means contact me. Nothing says summertime fun like potential grievous bodily harm and the looming specter of death. This is very real talk – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you’ve got a line on getting me my Jarts fix.)

“If we were living today like we did at 20, we would positively, undoubtedly be dead by now,” Robby Takac said when I asked the bassist and co-founding member of the Goo Goo Dolls about some of the changes he and band mate Johnny Rzeznik have experienced after more than three decades together.

Takac’s matter-of-fact response was a refreshingly honest reaction to a question about some of the myths and realities of life in 2019 for the mega-successful rockers, as their July 30 concert at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor with co-headiners Train and soul-singing opener Allen Stone draws near.

I got a lot of that honesty from Takac, as he explained why the Goo Goo Dolls today are - in some ways - the same band they were in the ‘80s, when they were cranking out punk records in Buffalo and opening shows for bands like Motorhead, Bad Brains and The Dead Milkmen.

BREWER – One of central Maine’s beloved cultural traditions is marking a milestone this summer.

Ten Bucks Theatre Company’s production of “Richard III” – running July 18-21 at Brewer’s Indian Trail Park, July 25-28 at the Orono Public Library Amphitheater and Aug. 1-4 at Fort Knox in Prospect – marks the company’s 15th outdoor production.

Since their first Shakespeare Under the Stars production – “Taming of the Shrew” in 2004 – Ten Bucks has produced a show almost every summer since, with 2008 being the lone exception.

Julie Lisnet is one of the co-founders of Ten Bucks Theatre Company and was there at the table when the decision was first made to set off on this Shakespearean journey.

(Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, I am also a co-founder of Ten Bucks Theatre and I was also part of the conversations that led down this path.)

“Hard to believe TBT will be 20 in 2020,” Lisnet said. “I’m getting old!

“So, it [Shakespeare Under the Stars] came about because in 2002, PTC shut down the Maine Shakespeare Festival. Most of us co-founding members – you, me, Catherine LeClair, Bob Libbey, Rebecca Cook, Ron Adams, Kenny Volock, Sharon Zolper – we had all been involved with Maine Shakespeare. After PTC shut it down and no Shakespeare was had in 2003, people started asking TBT to take up the mantle. So we did.”

What followed was the aforementioned “Taming of the Shrew” in Brewer’s Indian Trail Park and a long list of outdoor shows:

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (2005); “Macbeth” (2006; “As You Like It” (2007); “Twelfth Night” (2009); “Romeo and Juliet” (2010); “Hamlet” (2011); “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (2012); “The Tempest” (2013); “Julius Caesar” (2014); “Dracula,” the sole non-Shakespeare of the bunch (2015); “The Comedy of Errors” (2016); “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (2017); “Macbeth” (2018); and opening this weekend, “Richard III.”

Over the years, Ten Bucks has expanded into new venues. Early on, shows stayed put in Brewer, but subsequent productions have hit the road – the current run sees them play three venues in three weeks, starting at Indian Trail Park before spending a week at the Orono Public Library Amphitheater and then closing out the run with a week at Fort Knox in Prospect.

All of it done out of a love of Shakespeare and a passion for their craft. Scores of people coming together with a simple singular goal – to bring out the Bard.

In an effort to look back at this history, I spoke to six people who have been extensively involved with the outdoor productions of Ten Bucks. Joining Lisnet are Aimee Gerow, Katie Toole, Nathan Roach, Ben Layman and Adam Cousins. Each was invited to share thoughts and memories of their times on the outdoor stage. And share they did.

Talking science, storytelling and her new book “Archaeology from Space”

Dr. Sarah Parcak’s Twitter handle says it all - @indyfromspace. Yeah, that’s right – she’s a space archaeologist.

What’s that, you ask? Well, you’re about to get the chance to find out, thanks to the Bangor native’s new book “Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past.” Her work involves the use of satellite imagery to determine the presence (or absence) of archaeological sites that otherwise could only be discovered via traditional boots-on-the-ground methods.

Forget the fedora – we’re finding the past by way of the future!

Parcak’s fame in scientific circles has been steadily growing over the past decade or so. Things really blew up for her when she was awarded the million-dollar TED Prize in 2015. She appeared on “Late Night with Stephen Colbert,” bringing awareness of her work to a whole new level. She founded the website GlobalXPlorer, which allows users to do their own metaphorical digging, using satellite images to go on their own archaeological scavenger hunts from on high.

Let me repeat – she is a space archaeologist. It sounds like the sort of job that a precocious six-year-old would invent, something along the lines of “cowboy astronaut” or “baseball player president.” But make no mistake – she is real.

And she is SPECTACULAR.

Tuesday, 02 July 2019 22:28

MIFF marks 22 years of movie magic

Written by Allen Adams

WATERVILLE - One of the most beloved highlights of Maine's cinematic calendar is set to hit movie screens in Waterville soon.

The Maine International Film Festival is set to take place from July 12 through July 21. The festival - marking its 22nd year - will once again feature a vast array of films - nearly 100 in all. Comedies, dramas and documentaries, feature-length films and shorts, movies new and old from all over the world and from right in our backyards here in Maine.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019 15:46

Summer reading: Short fiction edition

Written by Allen Adams

For some, selecting their summer reading is one of the most important decisions of the season. Choosing what we’re going to read at the beach, at camp or even just on the porch or in a backyard hammock is a significant key to maximizing our simple pleasures quotient.

And so, once again, here are The Maine Edge’s annual summer reading recommendations.

In past years, this story has focused on a variety of different reading options. One summer, the target was suitable book series. Another tackled Maine authors exclusively. Still another allowed me to offer up my own personal recommended reading list. And last year, it was a look back at some of the books you might have missed over the past five years.

In keeping with that commitment to mixing things up, this year’s summer reads story is all about short fiction. The following collections run the gamut in terms of genre and span the breadth of this century and half of the last. Some of the titles and authors will be familiar, while others may have slipped under your radar, but all are capable of fulfilling your summer reading needs.

Happy reading!

It’s funny how something as ordinary as hearing a new song on the radio can send a person burrowing down a rabbit hole so rich with hidden trails and secret passageways, he’s still there decades later savoring every moment.

Phish is currently on a 26-date summer tour and will soon arrive in Bangor to play back-to-back shows at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 25 and 26.

Most every fan in attendance will have a different story about what brought them to Phish (insert Volkswagen Minibus joke here). Oh yeah, Phish fans have to put up with a lot of crap. It’s all good, man. We can take it.

The moment I received a message from The Maine Edge’s resident Super Genius assignment editor Allen Adams asking me to share the story of my path to Phish, I began compiling a list of details.

(Editor’s note: I’ve been looking for an excuse to have Mike go long on Phish for years; his passion for the band is palpable. With the band’s return to Bangor, I got what I wanted – and you all are getting something special.)

This is how I came to Phish and why I hope to never leave.

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