STORYTELLING PROGRAMS FOR ADULTS

THE MAN WHO KNEW THE EARTH WAS FLAT: A SALUTE TO PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEIR OWN MINDS

Drawing on local memories, old letters, diaries, and family legend, this program evokes a gathering of strong-willed characters from Maine. A self-proclaimed rural astronomer proves that the earth is flat and stationary; an overconfident farmer is outdone by his resourceful and determined pig; an array of old-time one-room schoolteachers find ingenious ways to curb their pupils' wayward spirits; a family eccentric harbors a dark secret; an entire community, destroyed by wildfire, is kept alive by the courage and generosity of neighbors. Clever and compassionate, moving and funny by turns, these stories honor the surprising, often quirky gifts of ordinary people. (60-110 minutes)

BURNED INTO MEMORY: THE STORY OF THE BROWNFIELD FIRE

In October of 1947, after a season of terrible drought, wildfires burned all over the state of Maine. The town of Brownfield was one of the worst areas: 80% of it, including all churches, schools, post offices, and other public buildings, was completely destroyed in the space of a few hours. Drawing on newspaper accounts, letters, and oral history interviews with survivors of the Fire, this program presents an extraordinary story of terror, courage, neighborly responsibility, recovery, and -- yes -- even humor. (50 minutes; optional discussion period afterwards)

PURITAN IN THE EXTREME: A MAINE FAMILY AFTER THE CIVIL WAR

Framed by music and slides of old photographs, this program brings to life the social and emotional worlds of country people in the last century. Moving and funny by turns, Radner's stories introduce local characters who made the best of their challenging lives in Western Maine a century ago and more: a family eccentric with a dark secret in his Denmark past, a reluctant bachelor who became the target of neighborhood satires, a courageous young Fryeburg woman who moved to the Military Asylum at Togus with her new husband after the Civil War and coped creatively with homesickness, maternal tragedies, and early widowhood. The performance makes a strong statement about the importance of family loyalties and connections. (65 minutes)

INVENTING THE GARDEN OF EDEN, AND OTHER RECOLLECTIONS

A program of tales about growing up, learning from nature, and remembering a beloved childhood world. A dangerous moment in the woods teaches limitations; a hilarious seventh-grade first “date” evoke the awkwardness of adolescent hope. “Up the Hill” gathers fond memories of an unforgettable privy and the life lessons it instilled. The final story offers a poignant portrait of oddly matched grandparents who, though they have passed away, are never truly lost. (70 minutes)

HOUSES OF MEMORY

"When I walk in memory through the houses of my history," says Jo Radner, "I go there not for architecture, but for ghosts." In this performance Radner travels back to memorable places -- a sheltered New York apartment under the Third Avenue El, a very proper Maine privy, the cellar of a Maine farmer's barn, and an old house that defeated conversation - celebrating, honoring, and, indeed, laughing at the lives they once harbored. (60-75 minutes)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"And then there was old Mabel Stone, up on Dugway. People said she was just too stubborn to run away. She had her little dog Woofie with her, and she had a plan: she was going to stay at her house and fight the fire with a broom, a bucket of water, and a snow rake...." - from Jo's story, "Burned Into Memory"