The Spy Holiday Poem: Heron & Harp by Meredith Davies Hadaway

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The Spy continues our tradition in sharing the best of local poetry as our way to celebrate this holiday season. Once again, we turn to Chestertown’s very gifted Meredith Davies Hadaway for this special poem entitled Heron & Harp  which includes her performance on harp and photographs.

The Chestertown Spy editors, writers, and volunteers send our best Seasons Greetings and best wishes for a wonderful new year.

This video is approximately one minute in length

HERON & HARP

I drag my harp across the gapped

terrain of pier—a hundred feet with nothing

underfoot but slats of air and swirling tide—

 

and place the harp in front of me to play

“The Water Is Wide,” a sort of joke here,

where the channel is so narrow.

 

A few notes into the song: a squawk.

Flying low, a heron glides across

the river’s edge to land beside me.

 

Head tucked so he can stare me down

from his perch on a piling—

 

summoned by the strange cascade of frequencies—

or did he mistake the arching frame for another

large and gawky bird?

 

I keep the tune going, a slow air

we would call it, as the oscillations rise,

and then retreat, leaving

 

song and bird, the harp and me suspended

in a pulse, a wave, a measure

where the water is wide enough

to hold us all.

 

—from At the Narrows © Word Poetry, 2015

Meredith Davies Hadaway is the author of three poetry collections, including At the Narrows, winner of the 2015 Delmarva Book Prize for Creative Writing.

Mid-Shore Arts: A Soothsayer Counterpoint to Goya’s Darkness with Emily Lombardo

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When the Spy interviewed artist Emily Lombardo a few days before her opening of The Caprichos: Goya and Lombardo last month, it was surprising to see that the Academy Art Museum had also installed another collection of her work in its hallway.  The purpose seemed to serve as a fitting counterpoint to the sobering aspects of her three year project to match Goya’s stinging social commentary with her own disappointments with our contemporary times.

With The Soothsayers: 3D Works on Paper, Emily moves back to some of her early roots working with paper, printmaking, and her life long fascination with the classic fortune-telling tool, the enduring 8 Ball from her youth. And by calling the project The Soothsayers, she brings back a 14th-century term that means “truth” and/or “reality.”

The Spy spent a few minutes with Emily talking about The Soothsayers and the sense of maturity and time with that comes with this youthful clairvoyance device.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum and The Soothsayers: 3D Works on Paper please go here

Profiles in Philanthropy: The Garfield’s Playmakers Program and the Hedgelawn Foundation

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While the public and private schools in the area do their best to offer their students fun seasonal stage productions once or twice a year, it simply is not the same experience as committing five weeks, from 10 am to 3 pm, to create a major play.

That’s the contention of Tess Hogans, the theater manager for the Garfield Center for the Arts who also supervises the Playmakers program (along with Catherine Bushby) for young actors every summer. And for Tess, as she noted in her interview in the Spy’s Profiles in Philanthropy series with Judy Kohl of the Hedgelawn Foundation, it is this quality of  “time on task” that not only brings out an extraordinary confidence in young thespians, but allows for a diversity of age and multiculturalism that break down traditional bear enriches the process of acting itself.

As Playmakers starts its twelfth season in the summer of 2018, Tess highlights how such a relatively small program can have such immediate and gratifying results while Judy talks about being the Playmakers original sponsor and its significant return on investment.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information on the Garfield Center for the Arts Playmaker program or to make a donation, please go here

 

Holiday Programs at the Garfield Center

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Come spend the holidays at the Garfield Center for the Arts with two family friendly programs! On December 16th at 3:30pm bring a comfy pillow and blanket to snuggle and listen as Kent County Public Librarian Annie Woodall reads holiday stories for the annual Gather ‘Round! Cookies, cocoa and candy canes provided! Admission is FREE, with donations supporting the Kent County Public Library.

This is also the final weekend of the Garfield’s holiday show, Miracle on 34th Street. Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at 410-810- 2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown.

Mastering the Art of Gingerbread Cookie Decorating at KidSPOT

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Chef Stu Cawley demonstrates proper technique

Budding pastry chefs gathered at KidSPOT on December 3 for the annual Gingerbread Cookie Workshop.

Chef Stu Cawley demonstrated the proper technique using red, green and white icing and a variety of candies. The children then created their masterpieces with gingerbread cookies generously donated by Little Village Bakery.

This annual event is not possible without our sponsors: Evergrain Bread Company, Twigs and Teacups, and Yerkes Construction. It is presented by the Downtown Chestertown Association and hosted by RiverArts’ KidSPOT. Special thanks to Stu Cawley, Jayne and Paul Heckels.

Budding chef at work

 

“Miracle on 34th Street” a Holiday Treat

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“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.   Jim Landskroener, director and Mr. Bloomingdale, David Ryan as Kris Kringle, Allan Price as Mr. Macy.      Photo by Jeff Weber

“Miracle on 34th Street,” one of the classic films for the Christmas season, has been adapted as the Garfield Center’s annual holiday offering. Directed by Jim Landskroener, the play assembles a large cast to present this heart-warming story of how Santa can imbue even the most cynical among us with the true spirit of Christmas.

The 1947 movie on which the play is based won three academy awards, including “Best Original Story” by Valentine Davies and “Best Supporting Actor,” Edmund Gwynn, who plays Kris Kringle. And it was chosen in 2005 to become part of the Library of Congress National Film Registry as a “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” film.

“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.        Photo by Jane Jewell

The plot is the story of an elderly man who takes a job as a department store Santa Claus at Macy’s in New York City. But Kris Kringle, as he introduces himself, is not content to steer the children who come to see him toward the most profitable merchandise, as his supervisor instructs him. Rather, he does his best to see that they get what they really want — even if it means sending them to another store that carries the item at a lower price than Macy’s. This, of course, goes down very poorly with his supervisors, who warn him, and when he won’t cooperate, fire him.

But meanwhile, the owner of the store, learns that Macy’s is getting unusually favorable publicity because of the new Santa. He expresses his approval, leading the supervisors to reverse course and rehire him. But Kringle has aroused the enmity of Miss Sawyer, the store’s psychologist, who files a complaint that he has attacked her and tries to get him committed to an asylum. At this point, the play shifts to a courtroom scene, where Kringle is on trial for his mental competency. His attorney, Fred Gayley, decides to base his defense on the proposition that Kringle really is Santa Claus.

At the same time, there’s a warm love story running parallel to the Kris Kringle plot, with Fred Gayley trying to win over his neighbor Doris Walker, the Macy’s supervisor who hired Kringle. Fred has decided to let Kringle use his spare bedroom, so he sees a good deal of Doris after work hours. A disillusioned young divorcee, Doris is raising her daughter Susan not to believe in fairy tales or Santa Claus. But when Fred takes Susan to see Kris, her skepticism begins to waver. Eventually, the barriers begin to break down…

 

Kris Kringle is taken to BelleView and must now prove that he isn’t crazy – because he really is Santa! Photo by Jane Jewell

 

It’s a wonderful Christmas fantasy, with a nice love story woven into the plot, and a full quota of interesting characters. Director Jim Landskroener said before the Saturday performance that the script, written in the 1990s by Valentine Davies, was revised somewhat freely for the Garfield version, smoothing out some of the dialogue to feel more natural. Adapting a film script to live theater is always tricky; many things easily done on film are out of reach for even the most ambitious theatrical production, but Landskroener and crew have done a good job of making the story work on stage.

David Ryan as Kris Kringle     Photo by Jeff Weber

David Ryan is a delight as Kris Kringle, radiating warmth and good will. Ryan, pastor of Chestertown’s two Methodist churches, has become a valuable addition to the local theater scene, appearing at both the Garfield (“Mr. Roberts”) and Church Hill  (“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”)

Natalie Lane plays Doris Walker, the Macy’s manager who initially hires Kringle. She does a nice job showing the character’s transition from distrust of emotions and skepticism about Santa to acceptance. A member of the Kent County Library staff, she previously appeared in “My Fair Lady.”

Izzie Southworth, making her acting debut here, plays Doris’s daughter Susan, who learns to trust her imagination under Kris’s prompting. She makes the character’s different moods come across clearly — well done.

Zac Ryan, whose previous GCA credits include “Mr. Roberts” and Short Attention Span Theater, plays Fred Gayley, a young lawyer who is in love with Susan. He believes in Kris almost from the beginning, and does his best to make sure the old fellow isn’t mistreated either by Macy’s management or by the legal system. A good job in a prominent part.

“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.   Susie and Santa. Photo by Jane Jewell

Diane Landskroener, one of the most versatile actors in local theater, is wonderful as Sawyer, deploying an appropriately grating New York accent and using body language to create the character. She’s hilarious!

“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.  Mrs. Sawyer accuses Santa of attacking her as Doris looks on, startled.    Photo by Jane Jewell

Gil Rambach is convincing as Judge Harper, whose sense of justice is tempered by the need to get reelected.  June Hall takes the role of Halloran, the judge’s campaign manager, who is appalled that he is sitting on a case that could require him to rule against Santa. And Mike Heffron does a nice job as Mara, the prosecuting attorney who discovers that he’s got a tougher case on his hands than he thought. And James Diggs is well cast as Dr. Pierce, who knows Kris from the hospital he’s lived in for a number of years.

The Macy’s elves — played by Ben Anthony, Thomas Martinez, Ellie Morton and Shane Saunders — double as stagehands and carry much of the comic energy of the scenes they appear in. They are especially funny when they give a dead-pan demonstration of the history of elvish “pranks,” culminating in the ever popular pie-in-the-face.  Young audience members should especially enjoy these slapstick bits, while older theater-goers will be amused by their interplay with the Macy’s management as the elves try to defend Santa.

Mr. Macy and the staff envision the fabulous profits that will incur due to the great publicity and good will that their Santa is bringing to the store. “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.       Photo by Jane Jewell

The play’s pace is sometimes a little slow, largely because of the number of scene changes. This, of course, is one of the complications of translating something from film — where such changes can appear instantly and almost effortlessly — to the stage, where things have to be physically moved into place in view of the audience. Using the elves as stagehands is a clever solution, adding a bit of fun as the elves scamper and romp while they reset the stage for the next scene.  The lively Christmas music also adds to the holiday atmosphere.

The Garfield’s “Miracle on 34th Street” is a nice addition to a holiday season that has already hit high notes locally with the “Dickens of a Christmas” festival. It has the right mix of sentiment and comedy, delivered by a strong cast. Young theater-goers should find it engaging, and older audience members who know the movie are likely to find it a fresh re-interpretation of the story. Don’t miss it!

The show runs through Dec. 17. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m, and Sunday matinees begin at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for military and.seniors 65+, and $10 for students.

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 410-810- 2060.

“You can’t put Santa on trial!~” says Halloran, Judge Harper’s campaign manager.
“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.        Photo by Jane Jewell

Lawyer Mara, Clerk Finley, & Judge Harper
“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.        Photo by Jane Jewell

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Mid-Shore Arts: Artist Emily Lombardo Has a Three Year Chat with Goya at the AAM

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One of the first things that must be said in prefacing our Spy interview with artist Emily Lombardo is that her current exhibition, The Caprichos: Goya and Lombardo at the Academy Art Museum, is not complicated for the audience to comprehend.

Two artists, separated by some 300 years, offer similar and sobering images of their contemporary society’s failures. For Francisco Goya, his eighty etchings, which make up the original work known as Los Caprichos, reflected the terrors of the Spanish Inquisition and the moral bankruptcy of the Catholic Church among many other social illnesses of his time.

For Emily Lombardo, who, as a young art student in Boston would spend her afternoons at the Museum of Fine Art observing Goya’s work, Los Caprichos offered her an entirely new gateway to express her moral outrage at today’s injustices as well as, you guessed it, the moral bankruptcy of Catholic Church and its more recent sins related child sex abuse.

The challenge for the audience is to go beyond these often dark images and see how these two worlds both contrast and connect with each other in this remarkable exhibition organized by the AAM’s curator Anke Van Wagenberg.

The Spy caught up with Emily before the opening of The Caprichos: Goya and Lombardo to talk about this extraordinary undertaking (it took both artists three years to complete their work) and some suggestions for visitors and they observe these two worlds which fill the Museum’s two primary gallery spaces for the next few months.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information on The Caprichos: Goya and Lombardo please go here

 

Profiles in Philanthropy: Kent County’s Arts in Motion and the Hedgelawn Foundation

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In an age when news of million-dollar gifts to charities are now considered run of the mill, and billionaire philanthropists make their mark with large capital gifts, it is easy to forget that every day in this country much smaller acts of philanthropy can also create transformational change as well.

One example has been the Hedgelawn Foundation and their support of the Arts in Motion program, which is devoted to the development of Kent County public school student artists and their teachers. Through Hedgelawn’s support, Arts in Motion was able created the Easels and Arts project which now displays the work of our regional students at six primary locations in Kent County. To date, it is estimated that over 7,000 Kent County residents have viewed their work.

The Spy was interested in these small but mighty acts of philanthropy by Hedgelawn, so we sat down with Tom McHugh, the volunteer leader of Arts in Action, to hear first hand how the Foundation’s seed funding was critical as leverage for additional support to make Easels and Arts a reality. We also talked to Judy Kohl of Hedgelawn (which she founded with her husband, the late Ben Kohl) about why it decided to make this investment and how it coincides with the foundation’s mission.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Arts in Motion please go here.

Miracle on 34th Street Opens Dec. 1 at Garfield

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Veteran Director Jim Landskroener has assembled a cast of new and familiar local faces for the production of Miracle on 34 th Street, which opens during the Dickens of a Christmas weekend, Friday, December 1st at the Garfield Center for the Arts. This play version is adapted from the Twentieth Century Fox motion picture, and based on the novel by Valentine Davies. &quot.

“This is a tale that we want to believe in, that creates a world we seem to desperately desire, free of the blatant commercialism that surrounds us, where love and decency and generosity of spirit are their own rewards. What we want Christmas to be all about.” So writes the Santa Cruz Sentinel of this most heartwarming holiday
story.

By chance, Kris Kringle, an old man in a retirement home, gets a job working as Santa for Macy’s. Kris unleashes waves of good will with Macy's customers and the commercial world of New York City by referring parents to other stores to find exactly the toy their child has asked for. Seen as deluded and dangerous by Macy’s vocational counselor, who plots to have Kris shanghaied to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, Kris ends up in a court competency hearing. Especially at stake is one little girl's belief in Santa. In a dramatic decision, the court confirms Kris as the true Santa, allowing Susan and countless other children to experience the joy of childhood fantasy.

The cast in order of appearance on stage:
James Diggs – Dr. Pierce
David Ryan – Kris Kringle
June Hall – Bag Lady
Rich Person – Laura Crabtree
Shellhammer (Shelly) – Lori Wysong
Doris Walker – Natalie Lane
Susan Walker – Izzie Southworth
Fred Gayley – Zac Ryan
Drunk Santa – Tom Dorman
Macy – Allan Price
Sawyer – Diane Landskroener
Gimble – Special Cameo
Judge Harper – Gil Rambach
Finley – Tom Dorman
Mara – Mike Heffron
Halloran – June Hall
Duncan – Laura Crabtree
Mara, Jr. – Aaron Sensenig
Assorted Elves: Ben Anthony, Thomas Martinez, Ellie Morton, Shane Saunders
Children & Parents: Lia & Sarah Schut, Quentin & Phyllis Bergenholtz, Joe Diggs, Aaron Sensenig and Josie
Merton.

Take advantage of the Garfield’s recurring opening night discount; get $5 off when you wear your Garfield t-shirt! The show runs three weekends, from December 1 to 17. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m, and Sunday matinees begin at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for military and.seniors 65+, and $10 for students.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.GarfieldCenter.org or by calling the box office at 410-810- 2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown. This production is sponsored by Sutton Building & Remodeling, who recently installed the Garfield’s new movie screen.

Photo credits — Jeff Weber