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Entertainment Highlights: ‘Homespun’ Theater On the Farm

Barnard Theater Troupe Offers Food and a Challenging Play

  • Caption: L to R; Actors Allyson Boate (as Meg) and Ira Sargent (as Doc) conduct the first dress rehearsal of Fable Farm Theatre's production of "Crimes of the Heart" at The Clark Commons in Barnard, Vermont. The dinner theatre begins August 23rd. Visit www.fabletheatre.com to learn more.<br/><br/>Photo Credit: Seth Butler for Fable Farm Theatre.

    Caption: L to R; Actors Allyson Boate (as Meg) and Ira Sargent (as Doc) conduct the first dress rehearsal of Fable Farm Theatre's production of "Crimes of the Heart" at The Clark Commons in Barnard, Vermont. The dinner theatre begins August 23rd. Visit www.fabletheatre.com to learn more.

    Photo Credit: Seth Butler for Fable Farm Theatre.

  • Caption: L to R; Actors Allyson Boate (as Meg) and Ira Sargent (as Doc) conduct the first dress rehearsal of Fable Farm Theatre's production of "Crimes of the Heart" at The Clark Commons in Barnard, Vermont. The dinner theatre begins August 23rd. Visit www.fabletheatre.com to learn more.<br/><br/>Photo Credit: Seth Butler for Fable Farm Theatre.

When Barnard’s Fable Farm Theatre set out to choose a play for its second dinner theatre performance, it settled on a guiding word: “homespun.”

Troupe members weren’t sure exactly what it meant, said actor Andrew White, and knew the word would mean different things to different people. But they knew homespun was something they would feel if they read it.

They ended up choosing Crimes of the Heart, a Beth Henley play that won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for three Academy Awards when it was turned into a movie several years later.

“It’s very much a place-based play,” White said. “The culture really comes through.’’

Crimes of the Heart follows three sisters who reunite at their family home in Mississippi after one sister shoots her abusive husband. From there, longtime issues and conflicts begin to bubble over.

This is the second year that Fable Farm Theatre, which is part of the Fable Farm in Barnard, will be putting on a play following a dinner made from farm food. This year’s meal, White said, will be a southern-style seafood gumbo, with fish from Wood Mountain Fish in Boston, cooked in a cauldron over a fire and paired with produce from the farm.

After the meal, attendees will sit down in front of a pine board stage at the farm’s Clark Commons to watch a play that, while recommended for ages 12 and up, is still a bit emotionally challenging, White said.

“We wanted something that would push people’s emotional boundaries without getting too extreme and turning away anyone,” he said.

This year’s production is sponsored by the Vermont Land Trust, Twin Farms and the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School, White said.

Between last year’s play, Sea Marks, and this year’s Crimes of the Heart, the cast grew from two to six members. Three of this year’s cast members are part of a new “artist in residency” program. All are based out of New York City — much like White was, for five years, before moving to Vermont several years ago — and were chosen from a pool of about 600 applicants, White said. They’ll spend six months away from the city in a lifestyle marked as much by farm work as rehearsal.

White said there’s something “really powerful” about taking people out of cell phone reception, off the pavement and onto a farm, where they sit on hay bales around massive maple trees after eating a farm-cooked meal.

“I think it’s a reminder of where we come from, and really what nourishes us and supports us, which is the very ground we walk on,” he said. “And the community that we all depend on.”

Fable Farm Theatre will perform the play “Crimes of the Heart” at the Clark Commons at 1530 Royalton Turnpike in Barnard beginning Friday night. Shows are Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and Aug. 29, 30 and 31 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the show and dinner cost $25, and can be purchased from www.fabletheatre.com.

Best Bets

It’ll be a big weekend at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction. On Friday, starting at 8 p.m., local bands Mock Title and Carton will join Rough Francis on the museum stage. The Burlington-based Rough Francis is perhaps best known as the band formed by children of the proto-punk rock band Death. Death, which began in Detroit in the early 1970s, was the subject of last year’s well-received documentary A Band Called Death. Rough Francis played unearthed covers of Death recordings before writing its own music. A $10 to $20 donation is encouraged.

The next night, the venue will put on a show in advance of its Kickstarter campaign to purchase a new stage and make structural upgrades to the building (see today’s Art Notes for the full take). BUNNIES, Humphrey Blowdart, Sci-Fi Forest and the Grand Mandibles will play the show, which begins at 8 p.m. A donation of $2 to $20 is encouraged.

∎ Essayist and translator David Hinton and novelist and essayist Ernest Hebert will close out the three-week Strafford Town House Forum series tonight. Hinton last year released Hunger Mountain: A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape, a spiritual and philosophical work tied to his explorations of the titular Vermont mountain; Hebert last year came out with Never Back Down, a novel that takes place in 1950s Keene, N.H. He also teaches at Dartmouth College. The free conversation begins at 7 p.m., with a bring-your-own-food picnic outside an hour earlier.

Music

Boston’s Olmsted Ensemble, a four-person group that utilizes flute, violin, viola and cello, will perform on Saturday afternoon at the Union Church in Claremont. The ensemble will play pieces by Mozart, Arriaga and Charles Hommann. The show begins at 4 p.m. Donations are welcome. For more information, call 802-738-0022.

∎ Gerry Grimo & The East Bay Jazz Ensemble, a swing, jazz and blues group based in Windsor, will play on the Quechee Green tonight at 6:30 p.m. The show will wrap up Hartford’s Summer Concert Series, which featured shows on the green as well as at Lyman Point Park in White River Junction.

∎ Cats Under the Stars, a six-member tribute to the Jerry Garcia Band, will perform at the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction on Friday. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased from www.tupelohallvermont.com.

∎ The Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival at the Chandler Music Hall will finish this weekend with a pair of concerts. At 11 a.m. on Friday, the Island Time Steel Band will play a special children’s concert. And at 8 p.m. on Saturday, the ensemble will play works by Bartok, Berio, Piston and Bruch. A ticket form can be found at http://www.centralvtchambermusicfest.org/cvcmfticket.pdf.

∎ Barbershop quartet Fast Track will sing on the Woodstock Village Green today at noon, as part of the Pentagle Arts Council’s Brown Bag Concert series.

Theatre

Laughter on the 23rd Floor, a Neil Simon comedy, will continue for the next couple of weeks at the New London Barn Playhouse. Shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Tickets range from $18.50 to $33, and can be purchased from www.nlbarn.org.

∎ Bradford’s Old Church Theater will perform the World War II-set play, Mr. Roberts , through this weekend. The final shows will be on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Will-call tickets can be obtained by leaving a message at 802-222-3322 or emailing reservations@oldchurchtheater.org.

Bar and Club Circuit

Larry Dougher will be playing the blues Friday night at the Three Guys Basement BBQ in Hanover. Music starts at 7 p.m.

∎ David Greenfield will sing and play acoustic guitar at Lebanon’s Stone Arch Bakery & Cafe on Sunday. Music goes from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

∎ BorderStone, which specializes in covers of bands like the Eagles, Reckless Kelly and Gordon Lightfoot, will play at Jesse’s in Hanover Friday. Music starts at 5 p.m.

∎ Sharon-based blues trio The WoodShed Wailers will perform at West Lebanon’s Seven Barrel Brewery Friday, starting at 9 p.m.

∎ A group of musicians, most of whom have shown their chops at the Canoe Club in recent weeks, will play at the Hanover restaurant again this weekend. Tonight, Gillian Joy will take on the piano. On Friday, guitar duo Putnam & Pirozzoli will play a centuries-spanning set. On Saturday, Susan Gabriel will return to the club, and Randall Mullen will come for another performance on Sunday. In all cases, the music begins at 7 p.m.

∎ The Sullivan Davis Hanscom Band will return to Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern on Friday, starting at 9 p.m.

Open Mics

Salt hill Pub in Hanover runs an open mic, hosted by Chad Gibbs, on Mondays at 9 p.m.

∎ At Salt hill in Lebanon, Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host an open mic tonight starting at 8.

∎ Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock. It’s on Mondays, starting at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit hosts an open mic on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Wednesdays, beginning at 8 p.m.

∎ Gregory Brown hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242. Send Highlights notices to Highlights@vnews.com.