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Art Notes: Past plays are prologue for pastiche from ArtisTree

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    Actor Stephanie Morgan, of Woodstock, Vt., settles in for a nap while on an airplane flight during the rehearsal of "Upright & Locked," part of the six-act satire "Loose Canon," performed at ArtisTree's Grange Theater on Sept. 16-19, 2021, in Pomfret, Vt. The comedies satirize American consumerism in the style of canonical playwrights. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Geoff Hansen

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    Actors Beata Randall, of Hanover, N.H., left, and Doug Dame, of White River Junction, Vt., run their lines outside ArtisTree's Grange Theater in Pomfret, Vt., before a dress rehearsal of "Loose Canon" on Sept. 14, 2021. The play is the first of several to be performed in the theatre this fall, its first season since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down live performances in 2020. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

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    Actor Noor Taher, of Hanover, N.H., speaks about his love of the Tickle Me Elmo gift he received at a birthday party during the rehearsal of "The Elmae," part of the six-act satire "Loose Canon" performed at ArtisTree's Grange Theater on Sept. 16-19, 2021, in Pomfret, Vt. The comedies satirize American consumerism in the style of canonical playwrights. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Geoff Hansen

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    After receiving free tickets to attend a Major League Baseball game, actor Doug Dame, of White River Junction, Vt., complains about the cost of Cracker Jacks with actor Beata Randall, of Hanover, N.H., during the rehearsal of "Peanuts & Cracker Jack," part of the six-act satire "Loose Canon," performed at ArtisTree's Grange Theater on Sept. 16-19, 2021, in Pomfret, Vt. The comedies satirize American consumerism in the style of canonical playwrights. At left is Dame’s date for the game, actor Stephanie Morgan, of Woodstock, Vt. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/15/2021 9:22:55 PM
Modified: 9/15/2021 9:24:34 PM

A pastiche is a work made in a style that’s gone before, even the style of a particular writer or artist, a kind of homage.

In conversations about art, pastiche gets kind of a bad rap. It’s the kind of genre before which critics add “mere,” as if a pastiche is always less original than the work it honors.

Perhaps as a result, pastiche is seldom seen on Upper Valley stages, or anywhere, really.

ArtisTree Community Arts Center’s production of Loose Canon, a comedy that loops together several pastiches of theater greats, from Greek tragedy to Neil Simon, into a 90-minute critique of consumerism, presents an opportunity both to geek out on theater history and to laugh at the absurdity of modern life.

“The whole history-of-theater part of it really appeals to the theater nerd in me,” director Mary Gaetz said Wednesday.

Loose Canon opens Thursday evening, with performances through Sunday. It marks a reopening for ArtisTree, which has been building up a hybrid theater program — part-professional, part-amateur — over the past five years, since the opening of the renovated Grange Theatre.

Ashley Barrow, ArtisTree’s theater coordinator, said she asked Gaetz to come up with a funny show, and Barrow chose Loose Canon from two plays Gaetz presented.

“This is the first show since COVID shut us down in 2020,” Barrow said. ArtisTree has held some outdoor concerts and summer camps and classes, but no live theater.

Masks will be required, and the theater will be open at full capacity. For the next ArtisTree production, Honky Tonk Angels, a country-western jukebox musical, in October, vaccines will be required, too.

The more stringent vaccine requirement is the difference between a community show, like Loose Canon, which relies on local talent, and a show with professionals represented by Actors Equity, the New York-based union, which mandates both masks and vaccines for audiences.

ArtisTree presents performances with community actors and with union pros, including Honky Tonk Angels, and they complement each other.

“To me anyway, that’s the kind of theater company I want to support,” Gaetz said. The productions with Equity actors set a high bar, but audiences “also get to see our friends and family in the same space and with the same quality productions.”

The production of Loose Canon might be “amateur,” but Gaetz has undergraduate and master’s degrees in theater and moved to the Upper Valley to work in the education program at Northern Stage under Brooke Ciardelli and Jody Davidson.

Gaetz stayed in the Upper Valley after Northern Stage closed its education programs in 2010, letting her and Davidson go. She is now the manager of visitor services and business development at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich.

But theater is still essential to Gaetz, a 44-year-old Kansas native. She directs plays at Hanover High School, including a production last year during the pandemic that was filmed and broadcast over YouTube.

“The root of the word ‘amateur’ is ‘love.’ We do it because we love it,” said Gaetz, whose husband, Eric, is acting in Loose Canon.

In addition to directing shows, Gaetz also produces, mainly at North Country Community Theater, where she recently became president of the board.

The current production was possible because everyone involved has been vaccinated against the coronavirus and has been taking precautions, Gaetz said.

“We’ve all stayed healthy and happy,” she said.

ArtisTree would like to see the same in its audience.

“I hope people will take care of themselves and also come out and laugh,” Barrow said.

For tickets ($20-25) go to artistreevt.org.

A musician on the rise

Boston-based singer-songwriter Alisa Amador performs at the Feast and Field orchard in Barnard on Thursday evening. Amador has had a productive pandemic: a six-song EP, Narratives, emerges on Friday.

A co-production of Feast and Field Market and BarnArts Center for the Arts, the Thursday Feast and Field shows are ticketed, with a sliding scale of $5 to $20. To reserve, go to feastandfield.com, where you can also order up a meal in advance. Doors open at 5:30, the music starts at 6, the kitchen stays open until 8:30 and the bar until 9.

20 years of printmaking

AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon is holding a closing reception for “Two Rivers Printmaking Studio: 20 Years,” Friday evening from 5 to 7.

Founded by Ian Baldwin, who wanted to model the collaborative print studio after one he’d seen in Mexico, Two Rivers opened in the Tip Top Media Arts building in White River Junction in the spring of 2001, with printmaker Brian Cohen as the first director.

The studio continues to hold classes and workshops for printmakers of all levels, and exhibitions of work by the studio’s artist-members and visitors alike. Many of the studio’s artists will be present at AVA on Friday, and the reception is free and open to the public.

Halloween comes early

Theater producer Nathan Gardner, who is from the Sunapee area, is coming home to present a production called “Real Ghost Stories” at Newport Opera House at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The event, which is a benefit for the Newport Opera House Association, features Adam Berry, executive producer and host of Kindred Spirits, a Discovery+ and Travel Channel show that investigates the paranormal. Berry plans to tell personal stories of his spooky encounters making the show.

Tickets are $35 and are available at newportoperahouse.com.

Telluride at Dartmouth

The arrival in Hanover of six films from the Telluride Film Festival is, as the kids used to say, kind of a big deal. Upper Valley filmgoers get a chance to see Oscar-worthy films long before they show up at the multiplex, or Netflix.

I’m not going to go deep into the lineup except to note that it contains Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, a film by Andrea Arnold about “the emotional life of a cow” and a film in which Benedict Cumberbatch plays a Montana rancher.

More important, though, is that you might be able to get tickets at such a late date, something unheard of for the Telluride films, and watch on the massive screen in Spaulding without much of a crowd.

The films start Friday and run through Wednesday. Tickets are $15. The Hopkins Center is requiring masks and proof of vaccination. Go to hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.




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