Who tells the story? Who is silenced? Who remembers? Who passes it on?
Mainers are experiencing the polarization seen all across the country. Our most evident shared connection is our love for Maine. MAINEUSA sees an opportunity to heal some of these rifts by acknowledging our shared history. So we are creating a moving, clear-eyed, accurate narrative of Maine’s human and ecological history, a history with much to be proud of and much to reflect on, especially considering the times we are living in right now.
A shared narrative has the power to change minds, hearts, lives. Theater has a marvelous ability to reach and connect people. To tell the long history, we are gathering stories from Mainers – through historical research, story circles and interviews with people who reflect the diversity of today’s Portland. One schism is between ‘generational’ Mainers and recently arrived Mainers, many of them refugees. Knowing that laughter is the best medicine, our performance will be funny, as well as sobering. A full size right whale puppet will remind us of the natural world’s power and fragility. To inspire our 400 audience members’ own creativity, they are taught and sing a song together. Most of the stories are told in English, Passamaquoddy and Acholi, but some are told by a Wabanaki drum, a snare drum and a slit drum, together creating rhythms and meaning that reflect new Maine’s potential and promise. A six piece live band is essential to the performance, anchoring the performance and setting a pace that lets us cover 10,000 years in 75 minutes.
The impact of global warming and exploitation continues to have dramatic impacts on life here. The Gulf of Maine is the fastest warming body of water on the planet and we have a growing list of endangered species – Atlantic Salmon, Right Whales, Ash Trees, Loggerhead Turtles, Saltmarsh Sparrows. Now more than ever, we need theater’s ability to engage our minds, hearts and spirits to be center stage – visible, popular, affordable.