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BREWER – The winter of our discontent shall be made glorious summer, courtesy of Ten Bucks Theatre Company.

TBT’s latest installment of their Shakespeare Under the Stars series is “Richard III,” which played last weekend in Brewer’s Indian Trail Park. Subsequent performances will take place at the Orono Public Library’s amphitheater (July 25-28) and at Fort Knox in Prospect (Aug. 1-4).

Directed by Daniel Hanchrow, it’s the story of one person’s twisted plan to usurp the British throne and their willingness to indulge in whatever vicious acts, terrible deceptions and base betrayals necessary to achieve that single-minded aim. Featuring fluid casting, stripped-down production values and some bold aesthetic choices, it’s a production that is both unique in the annals of TBT’s history with the Bard and very much of a piece with some of the big swings of Shakespeare past.

Seriously – with women cast in men’s roles (in a reversal of the tradition of Shakespeare’s day) and a visual palette inspired by the ‘90s gangster oeuvre of filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Guy Richie, this is outdoor Shakespeare the likes of which you don’t often see.

Published in Buzz

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.

Published in Cover Story

Once again, summer’s arrival is upon us. The weather is warming up and the days are approaching their greatest length. People near and far are going to descend on our state’s beaches, mountains and forests; people are going to swim and hike and boat and generally experience the outdoors in a fashion that one can only achieve in Maine.

But there are other summertime perks, too.

For those who love live theater, there are loads of options. Companies near and far are bringing exciting work to stages all over the region; no matter where you might be, there’s a good chance that you’ve got some excellent theater happening nearby.

Some of these companies are stalwarts of the scene, having been around for decades. Others are relative newcomers, bringing a new energy to the proceedings. Bangor, Belfast, Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, Brooksville – they’ve all got something for you; Orono and Ellsworth and Stonington too.

It’s well worth your time to experience some of what our area’s summer stages have to offer. Here’s a look at just some of what’s to come.

Published in Cover Story

BANGOR – An unforgettable tale of pathos and pain, humor and heart, is gracing the Ten Bucks Theatre stage.

“The Elephant Man,” written by Bernard Pomerance and directed by Julie Arnold Lisnet, is running at the new Ten Bucks space located in the Bangor Mall. Performances of the show run through April 7.

It’s based on the true story of John Merrick, a man living in London in the Victorian Era who was afflicted with a malady that resulted in drastic deformation of his body. Despite bleak beginnings, Merrick eventually encountered a benefactor that allowed him to experience life beyond the limitations imposed upon him by his disorder.

It’s a tragic tale, to be sure, but one that also features moments of uplift and hope. Through keen curiosity and relentless gentleness, Merrick manages to find a home – a home where he is finally able to be spoken to, rather than gaped at.

Published in Style
Tuesday, 22 January 2019 20:31

Live theater at the mall?

BANGOR – An area theater company has moved into a new – and unconventional space in the Bangor Mall.

Ten Bucks Theatre Company will debut its new space – located in the former PacSun store – this weekend with a production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).” The production – a three-man romp through the Bard’s prolific output – is directed by Ben Layman and runs Jan. 25-27.

The performance on Saturday, Jan. 26 will be preceded with a gala celebration, with food, drink, a silent auction and a tour of the new space.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 12 December 2018 16:07

Celebrating a Christmas classic’s return

BANGOR – A beloved holiday classic returned to the Bangor stage recently.

Ten Bucks Theatre Company presented a staged reading of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” at the Bangor Arts Exchange December 7-9.

There’s no need for synopsis here; everyone is familiar with the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the spirits that helped turn him from a hard-hearted miser into a man with goodwill toward all his fellow man. It’s one of the most beloved Christmas stories in the literary canon.

As a rule, I don’t review performances such as this one, shows that are already fully in the rearview mirror before we go to print. But in this particular case, I'm making an exception. The reason?

Ken Stack.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 05 December 2018 14:48

Season’s greetings from area stages

If your holiday tradition involves taking in a show, you’re in luck – performances abound.

Area performing arts groups are bringing a wealth of holiday shows to local stages over the coming weeks. From longstanding traditions to fun new experiences to beloved classics, all manner of Yuletide fun will be treading the boards. No matter what kind of showgoing experience you’re looking for this season, you’ll be able to find it.

Published in Happenings

Ten Bucks Theatre Company is once more bringing the Bard to area stages with their annual Shakespeare Under the Stars production.

This summer sees them tackle the tragedy of “Macbeth.” Directed by Ben Layman, the show is set to pop up at four different locales over the course of its run. Their opening weekend took place in Brewer’s Indian Trail Park July 19-22, while they’ll be doing a one-off at the Newport Riverwalk on July 25, the day this edition hits the streets. From there, they’ll be at the amphitheater stage at the Orono Public Library July 26-29 before closing their run with a weekend at Fort Knox in Bucksport, performing Aug. 2-5.

Published in Style

Once again, summer’s arrival is upon us. The weather is warming up and the days are approaching their greatest length. People near and far are going to descend on our state’s beaches, mountains and forests; people are going to swim and hike and boat and generally experience the outdoors in a fashion that one can only achieve in Maine.

But there are other summertime perks, too.

For those who love live theater, there are loads of options. Companies near and far are bringing exciting work to stages all over the region; no matter where you might be, there’s a good chance that you’ve got some excellent theater happening nearby.

Some of these companies are stalwarts of the scene, having been around for decades. Others are relative newcomers, bringing a new energy to the proceedings. Bangor, Belfast, Bar Harbor – they’ve all got something for you; Orono and Ellsworth and Stonington too.

It’s well worth your time to experience some of what our area’s summer stages have to offer. Here’s a look at just some of what’s to come.

Published in Cover Story

EDDINGTON – Seven brand-new plays sprang to life on a stage in Eddington this weekend.

Published in Happenings
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