Homage to Poet Mary Oliver: “When Death Comes”

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Editor’s Note: Poet Mary Oliver passed away this week at the age of 83 years old. Oliver was a special favorite of the Spy and we sadly mourn her passing. 

We asked one of the Spy’s other favorite poets, Sue Ellen Thompson, to suggest a fitting poem to honor Oliver, and she very quickly responded with Oliver’s classic, “When Death Comes.”

When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
                              
–Mary Oliver

8th Annual Members’ Show Opens the RiverArts Exhibit Season

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The annual RiverArts Members’ Show, which opened January 2, highlights the quality and diversity of our arts community. Curators Marti Hawkins and Linda Kramer encouraged artists to submit one or two of their favorite pieces of art in any medium.

The exhibit includes photography, paintings, pastels, ceramics, fiber art (wearable and decorative), paper, mixed media, glass and wood – including a baseball, mitt and guitar.  First Friday attendees cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award. “The Things He Sees…” by Ronn Akins garnered the most. Runners up were Annie Singer, “So Close,” and Kate McGraw for “Moonrise Over Big Woods Road.”  The Members’ Show will be on view through January 27.

The Things He Sees, Ronn Akins

The RiverArts gallery exhibits change monthly. Most shows are open to non-members as well as members. Two are juried and judged. One is judged.Upcoming exhibits are Variations on a Theme, Still Life and Portraiture, February and Drawing, March. April brings the annual juried Art of Stewardship exhibit, which includes both poetry and visual art. May’s theme is Visual Story Tellers, and June is our annual Juried Painting and Contemporary Craft.

The popular Eastern Shore Life exhibit will run the month of July. The August show is Judged Photography and Wood. Connections:  Work in a Series is scheduled for September.  October is reserved for our annual Studio Tour Artists Exhibit. The gallery will showcase Kent County Student Art work in early November, with the Holiday Show and Sale rounding out the year.

More information on all upcoming shows, including specific dates and artist submission information is available on the RiverArts website, http://chestertownriverarts.net, and click on exhibitions.

RiverArts Galleries & Gift Shop 315 High Street, Suite 106, Chestertown, MD  21620 – (in the breezeway).  Gallery hours are Tuesday – Friday, 11 AM to 5:30 PM, Saturday 10 AM to 5:30PM, Sunday 11 AM – 3 PM, First Fridays until 8 PM.

KidSPOT Creativity Center next door to the gallery. Arts Alive Education Center 200 High St., the Clay Studio, 204 High St.

Final Weekend of The Curate Shakespeare’s As You Like It

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The photo above was from the first weekend of The Curate Shakespeare’s As You Like It, our two weekend partnership with the Shore Shakespeare Company. Written by Don Nigro and directed by Earl Lewin, the final performances of this fast-paced play-within-a-play are this Friday, January 18th at 8pm, Saturday January 19th at 8pm and Sunday, January 20th at 3pm. Tickets are $15 general admission and can be purchased by calling 410-810-2060 or by emailing the box office at boxoffice@garfieldcenter.org

Watch on the Rhine Opens January 18 at Church Hill Theatre

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Lillian Hellman’s Watch on the Rhine, directed by Mary A. James, is Church Hill Theatre’s first 2019 show. The play is a vintage American drama, with several heroic characters, an attractive villain, charming children, and a few comic moments along the way. It’s also a “traditional” CHT production, with an elegantly furnished living room set and costumes that match the period. The production opens on Friday, January 18 and will run for three weekends.

But Watch on the Rhine is much more than a drawing room comedy—it is an eloquent defense of American democratic values and responsibilities. Although written shortly before the outbreak of WWII as an anti-Nazi statement, it still resonates strongly and has enjoyed a number of recent revivals. The original play won the 1941 Drama Critics’ Circle Award and was made into a film starring Bette Davis.

Watch on the Rhine takes place in 1940 at Fanny Farrelly’s estate near Washington, DC, where she and her lawyer son David eagerly await the arrival of his sister, Sara Muller, and her family. Sara, married to a German patriot, for twenty years has made a new life in Europe, far from her domineering mother.  Tensions arise when Fanny’s houseguests, a titled Romanian couple, meddle in family affairs. What is going on between the Countess and David Farrelly? And is the Count a Nazi—or just a cad? Matters are resolved during a long cocktail hour that reveals secrets and rips apart Fanny’s comfortably complacent life.

David Farelly (Howard Mesick) and his sister Sara Muller (Darlene Greer).

Jane Copple takes on the role of Fanny Farrelly, a cosmopolitan and well-connected matron who is perhaps too used to getting her own way.  Darlene Greer portrays Fanny’s daughter, Sara Muller, stronger than we first think. Robert McGrory plays Kurt Muller, a former engineer and anti-Nazi activist.  Lisa Wojehowski, Calla McCluskey, and Connor Christopher play their children, Joshua, Babette and Bodo. Complicating matters are Fanny’s houseguests, the sinisterly attractive Count Teck de Brancovis, played by Will Robinson, and his American-born wife Marthe, played by Genevieve Croker.  Howard Mesick portrays Fanny’s lawyer son David, a man who finds more backbone as his comfortable world changes. Sheila Austrian plays Fanny’s French housekeeper/companion Anise.

James, with substantial experience at St. Martin’s Community Theatre and the Colonial Players, is making her directorial debut at Church Hill Theatre. Her production team includes Producer Hester Sachse and Lighting Designer Doug Kaufmann. The set was designed by the director and Temple Worth and constructed by Carmen Grasso. Speedy Christopher will be helping backstage.

Watch on the Rhine will open on January 18, 2019 and run until February 3. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 pm and Sunday afternoons at 2 pm.  Special two-for-one ticket pricing is available for the opening night. Reservations can be made on line at churchhilltheatre.org or by calling (410) 556-6003.

Auditions for “A Flea in Her Ear” at CHT on January 15, 17, 19

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Georges Feydeau’s hilarious farce adapted by David Ives comes to the stage this spring at Church Hill Theatre. Directed by Toph Wallace, the play will run for three weekends from March 29 to April 14. Rehearsals will begin on January 24.

A Flea in Her Ear has a simple premise, Madame Chandebise suspects her husband of cheating, and with the help of her best friend sets out to entrap and catch him.  With comic roles for men and women, you want to be a part of this show!  Auditioners will be asked to do cold readings from the script.

Wallace is a member of the CHT board and last directed the 2017 Church Hill production of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution.  He has been on stage recently in the title role of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Garfield Center and as Pat in CHT’s 2018 production of The Hostage.

Auditions will be held:

January 15 & 17 at 6:30 in the CHT rehearsal space located at 502 Main Street in Church Hill

January 19 at 12:00 on the CHT main stage

The characters in A Flea in Her Ear are:

Raymonde Chandebise: (Female: late 20’s – late 30’s)
Victor Chandebise’s  suspicious wife who plots to catch her husband being unfaithful to her.
Victor Chandebise / Poche: (Male: mid 30’s – mid 40’s)
As Victor: Raymonde’s faithful, sometimes meek husband/ As Poche: An alcoholic porter at the Frisky Puss Hotel who is often confused for Victor.
Tournel: (Male: early to late 30’s)
A handsome and confident ladies-man who has his eyes set on Raymonde.
Lucienne: (Female: late 20’s to late 30’s)
Raymonde’s witty friend who aids the plot by writing a seductive letter to Victor.
Don Carlos Homenides de Histangua: (Male: mid 30’s to mid-40’s) You’ll want to play this guy just because of his name! Lucienne’s hot-blooded husband. Thrown into a fierce rage when he sees her letter.
Camille: (Male: late 20’s to mid-30’s)
Antoinette’s lover. Has a cleft palette and speaks without pronouncing any consonants throughout most of the show.
Antoinette: (Female: mid 20’s to mid-30’s)
The maid of the house. Married to Etienne, but having an affair with Camille
Etienne: (mid 30’s to mid-40’s)
The Chandebise’s valet. Thinks he controls his wife, but… is oblivious to her affair.

Dr.  Finache: (Male: late 40’s to early 60’s)
The family doctor who is a frequent patron of the Frisky Puss Hotel.
Ferraillon: (Male: early 40’s to early 50’s)
Owner of the Frisky Puss Hotel. An army colonel, he runs the inn like his troupe.
Olympia: (Female: late 40’s to late 50’s)
Ferraillon’s wife. A beauty queen in her youth who won’t let go of the past.
Eugenie: (Female: early 20’s to early 30’s)
A somewhat dimwitted and flirtatious chamber maid at the Frisky Puss Hotel.
Baptiste: (Female: early 50’s to mid-70’s)
Ferraillon’s elderly uncle. Used as the hotel’s “distraction” when lovers are caught.
Rugby: (Male: late 20’s to mid-40’s)
A drunken Englishman who is stood up at the hotel. Will take any woman he can get.

Contact the Church Hill Theatre at 410-556-6003 or execmanager@churchhilltheatre.org with any questions about the play, the roles, or the audition schedule.

The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” A Zany Spoof! Spy Review by Peter Heck

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Max Hagan, Kathy Jones, and Troy Strootman in The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center, Jan. 11 – 20, 2019        – Photo by Jane Jewell

What happens when a small amateur theater group tries to put on a version of Shakespeare’s As You Like It with only seven actors? That’s the premise of Don Nigro’s The Curate Shakespeare, opening Friday, Jan. 11 at the Garfield Center. If you’re one of those who read the play in high school and wondered why it was considered a comedy, this version may be what you’ve been waiting for.

Directed by Earl Lewin, and produced by the Shore Shakespeare Company, The Curate Shakespeare is in many ways a logical follow-up to the company’s production of As You Like It – featuring many of the same cast and crew– this past summer. As Lewin remarks in his director’s notes in the playbill, the producers see the play as “a lampoon of their own production.”

The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center – Photo by Jane Jewell

The play came about when a professional acting company commissioned Nigro to write a version of As You Like It that could be performed by seven actors. Nigro, who has written over 400 plays, several inspired in some way by Shakespeare’s works, took the challenge as an opportunity to riff on the original, combining the Bard’s work with his own satiric take. It’s sort of a “Murphy’s Law” version of Shakespeare’s play – whatever can go wrong, does, usually in the funniest possible way. Originally produced in Terre Haute, Indiana by Indiana State University Summerstock in 1976, it has gone on to become a cult classic. Lewin, whose original dramas (most recently Hitched)  have a nice blend of comedy and realism, is an ideal director for this high-spirited spoof of actors and community theater.

The play’s subtitle, “the record of one company’s attempt to perform the play by William Shakespeare,” is a good overview of what happens in the play. We see the actors, led by a rather dotty minister, bumble through a performance, complaining and fighting, blowing lines, mispronouncing characters’ names, and every now and then managing to deliver something like what the Bard intended. There’s considerable fun to be had with the props, the costumes and a lot of the stage business – and with snide comments on the actual play they’re trying to put on. 

The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center – Photo by Jane Jewell

In an introductory scene, we learn that the company is about to go onstage before an apparently empty house – one cast member questions whether it’s even worth trying to do the play, while the minister who leads the troupe says there may be someone out there in the dark theater. In addition to not knowing whether there’s anyone watching, they are way short of the number of actors the script calls for – one cast member has died, another hasn’t bothered to show up, another has lost the ability to remember her lines. The minister says they can make do by doubling up on the parts and switching a few roles. Reluctantly, the cast agrees that the show must go on – there may be somebody watching, after all.

The play more or less follows the actual plot of As You Like It, which plot is right there –behind and between all the shenanigans. The original story of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” involves a group of aristocrats caught up in political intrigue and lovers’ triangles, They flee to the forest of Arden, where they mingle with country folk, adopt various disguises, and end up with quarrels mended and lovers re-united. With its aristocrats, young lovers, country bumpkins, a jester, and a cross-dressing heroine, it is in many ways a prototypical Shakespearean comedy. There’s a succinct summary of the play at the back of the playbill, for those who want to follow the action. It’s enjoyable and helpful reading for audience members before the play or during intermission. 

L-R seated: Christine Kinlock, Avra Sullivan, standing: Chris Rogers, Max Hagan, seated: Troy Strootman seated) in The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center – Photo by Jane Jewell

Chris Rogers, one of the founders of Shore Shakespeare and a regular in Lewin’s original productions, plays the Curate — and “all the old men” in the play. The character’s unshakeable optimism is severely tested by all the major and minor disasters on- and off-stage, and Rogers makes the most of the comic potential of the part. 

Kathy Jones takes the role of Rosalind, who acts as a chorus – setting the scenes, playing and singing the play’s songs, and commenting on the play. It’s a great part, and Jones delivers a winning performance. Rosalind was originally supposed to play the lead character, also named Rosalind, but Rosalind just can’t remember her lines so another actress is brought in at the last minute to take the part.  Most recently seen as Audrey (the carnivorous plant) in Tred Avon’s Little Shop of Horrors, Jones is showing herself to be one of the most versatile performers in the region. She says in her playbill bio that she’s recently retired, giving her even more time for the theater — good news for local theater lovers!

Chris Rogers and Avra Sullivan, co-founders of Shore Shakespeare in 2012. Rogers plays the minister and “all the old men”.  Sullivan plays four characters–Cecilia, Aliena, Phoebe, and Snake. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Avra Sullivan is the co-founder of Shore Shakespeare and was the stage manager of their production of As You Like It. Here she plays Celia, one of the better actors in the amateur troupe, and something of a prima donna. The character’s role is complicated by a rocky backstage romance with one of her fellow actors — which keeps breaking out in their performance.  Fortunately, their on-stage friends and lovers’ spats more or less fit into Shakespeare’s plot.  Sullivan also plays three other characters.  

Christina Kinlock, who took the role of Rosalind in Shore Shakespeare’s As You Like It, plays Audrey – who gets cast as Rosalind in this play! (The confusion of names is part of the fun of this production.) At first, the character panics at having her role changed. Then, realizing she’s gotten one of the star parts, she starts to put on airs. Kinlock does a nice job conveying the range of emotions, both in her nominal role and in the Shakespearean part she plays. 

Troy Strootman, as Amiens, also reprises the character he played in the Shore Shakespeare play, Oliver — a sinister young aristocrat. He also takes on the role of Silvius, a country bumpkin in the comic subplot, with a perfect (and totally un-Shakespearean) hillbilly accent. Like most of the other actors, he’s obviously having fun — and it’s contagious. One of the central points of the play comes in his unsuccessful attempts (in the character of Jacques)  to deliver the play’s most famous speech, “All the world’s a stage.” And, of course, massacres it.

Brian McGunigal is another Shore Shakespeare regular. He played Jacques in Shore Shakespeare’s production of  As You Like It last summer.  This time, he is cast as a clown, a depressed clown. He plays the role in a resigned deadpan, as if his character knows that he has to get through his scenes but has no intention of being funny or energetic or cheerful.  What’s the point? Life is hard.  No friends. Nobody loves him, not even himself.  A subtle and very effective performance, 

Avra Sullivan, Christine Kinlock, Brian McGunigle, and a sliver of Chris Rogers in The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center – Photo by Jane Jewell

Max Hagan, making his debut with Shore Shakespeare, takes the role of William, who plays the romantic lead in the play. A graduate of Sewanee with a Theater Arts major, he most recently appeared as Leslie in The Hostage at Church Hill Theatre. He does a nice job portraying an earnest young actor who hasn’t quite figured out the nuances of performance.  He keeps on trooping along even though the play is falling apart around him.  Hagan has a good voice and joins troubadour Rosalind in several songs.

Barbi Bedell did her usual stellar work on the costumes for this production — an amusing juxtaposition of realism and deliberately amateurish period costumes for the play within the play. The set, designed by Lewin, is quite clever, with a view of “backstage” and various props and bits of furniture, some obviously–and purposefully-humorous and amateurish. And a special tip of the hat goes to Greg Minahan, who arranged the choreography and wrote original music for the various songs in Shakespeare’s play.  The simple melodies and lovely harmonies of the songs felt right for the Shakespearian era.

Troy Strootman, Kathy Jones, Max Hagan.   The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center – Photo by Jane Jewell

All told, this is a fun production of an affectionate — but wickedly pointed — spoof of community theater and its inhabitants, particularly for anyone with a passing familiarity with Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The Elizabethan language of the play within the play and some of the nuances of the relationships between characters may make the play a bit challenging for younger audiences. It may be a bit sophisticated for the elementary-school set, who may find it boring. But there is also enough slapstick and funny parts to keep most children satisfied.  It will depend on the specific child whether this play is a good introduction to Shakespeare or just another boring evening watching “adult” stuff when they could be playing video games. Older theater-goers should have a grand time — especially if they take a moment to read the synopsis of Shakespeare’s play before the curtain goes up. 

The Curate Shakespeare opens Friday, Jan. 11 and runs through Jan. 20. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. General admission is $15; call the box office at 410-810-2060 or email boxoffice@garfieldcenter.org for reservations.

Photo Gallery by Jane Jewell with the help of the cast, crew, and costumers of “The Curate Shakespeare”

Max Hagan and Brian McGunigle in The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center – Photo by Jane Jewell

Kathy Jones as Rosalind, Troubadour, and Greek Chorus – The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center – Photo by Jane Jewell

Christine Kinlock and Chris Rogers in The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center – Photo by Jane Jewell

Kathy Jones and Brian McGunigle in The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center – Photo by Jane Jewell

The Curate Shakespeare “As You Like It” at the Garfield Center – Photo by Jane Jewell

 

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“The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It” Opens Friday at the Garfield

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The Curate Shakespeare

As You Like It

a comedy by Don Nigro as directed by Earl Lewin

“Being the Record of One Company’s Attempt to Perform the Play by William Shakespeare.”

This sparkling comedy presents the tribulations of an itinerant band of amateur thespians, led by a dotty cleric, in their attempt to present Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Seven actors valiantly create thirty-odd different parts, as they frantically switch roles and costumes. By turns pushed, pulled, exhorted, inspired, and browbeaten by their curate, they often want to quit, endure countless humiliations, and make a near hash of the precious and holy words of the god Shakespeare. But now and then, to their own considerable surprise, they stumble across moments of beauty and integrity. It’s a hilarious send-up of all things theatrical (with jabs at our own 2018 production!) from one of the modern   stage’s funniest playwrights, Don Nigro.

The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It is directed by noted Chestertown playwright and director Earl Lewin.  The cast features company co-founders Avra Sullivan and Chris Rogers, along with members Max Hagan, Kathy Jones, Christine Kinlock, Brian McGunigle, and Troy Strootman.  Original music and choreography are by Greg Minahan, and costumes by Barbi Bedell.  Stage management is provided by John Feldman.

January 11th – 20th, 2019 

Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 pm.      Sundays at 3:00 pm
The Garfield Center for the Arts       Chestertown, Maryland
General Admission $15

The company is delighted to be partnering with The Garfield Center for the Arts to present The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It.  Be sure to call the box office at 410-810-2060 to make reservations for this delightful spoof of one of Shakespeare’s greatest hits!  Or send an email to boxoffice@garfieldcenter.org.

Get complete info HERE.
The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC

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Delmarva Review: Man-Hours by Holly Painter

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“Take heart that in Detroit
Every three seconds
A car is born.” – C.K. Stead

It takes 6720 man-hours
to make a baby, give or take.

The catch is

it must be the same man
and that man a woman.

We cannot specialize.
We cannot automate.
We cannot use assembly lines
or lean production techniques
to accelerate the timeline.

We cannot do anything.
She must do it all.

Her body assembles the baby
step-by-step, though her brain
does not know how.

She builds a heart in only 18 days.
She constructs the intestinal tract,
starting with the anus, of course.

She engineers a custom machine:
designed at random within certain
parameters and built in the dark.

At 6720 hours, the deadline looms
and she always delivers.

Holly Painter holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Canterbury and teaches writing and literature at the University of Vermont. She is the author of the poetry collection Excerpts from a Natural History (Titus Books, 2015). In addition to Delmarva Review, her work has appeared in numerous literary journals in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, and the U.K.

Delmarva Review is a literary publication of national scope, with strong regional roots. In its eleventh year, the nonprofit journal discovers compelling new fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from authors within the region and beyond. It is supported by individual contributions, sales, and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. For information and copies, visit: www.DelmarvaReview.org.

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KCAC Names Two New Members to its Board of Directors

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On January 1, 2019, the Board of Directors of the Kent County Arts Council (KCAC) unanimously approved two new members; Myra Bulter, Director, Kent County Parks & Recreation; and Mark Christopher Hampton, Executive Vice President for Strategies and Operations at Washington College.

“I’m thrilled to have Myra and Mark join the KCAC board,” said Executive Director John Schratwieser. “Both bring extraordinary talents to our organization and help us to increase the reach and footprint of the KCAC through Kent County and across the Washington College Campus; furthering our ability to serve all residents of Kent County.”

Myra Butler has worked for Kent County in a variety of positions since 1992.  She is currently the Vice Chair of the Kent County Local Management Board.  She has also served on the boards of the University of Maryland Medical System, Shore Regional Health, Chester River Health Foundation, Compass Regional Hospice, and the Maryland Association of Recreation and Parks.

Myra Bulter and Mark Hampton

A resident of Chestertown, Butler is also a singer, dancer and community volunteer. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends, including her “fur baby” Napoleon Charlie, a Shih Tzu. Bulter says she is “elated” to serve on KCAC Board and support its efforts. “I look forward to not only gaining a better understanding for the arts and the artistic process, but to also be a part of the organization’s creative process,” she stated. “I’m equally excited about the opportunity to develop what I hope will become a long-lasting partnership between the Arts Council and the Department of Parks and Recreation.”

Mark Hampton recently returned to Washington College where he had served as Vice President for Finance and Administration from 2014 – 2016. In his new role as Executive Vice President for Strategy and Operations, he will develop the overall strategic direction of the College, while overseeing financial operations, information technology, facilities, capital projects, human resources, communications and marketing, and business operations.

An avid runner (having completed 21 marathons and 3 ultra-marathons, Hampton holds of Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy, a Masters of Statistics in Mathematics, and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics all from the University of Utah. He and his husband, Jay Alexander, reside in Chestertown with their two Labrador retrievers, Stella and Louie.

“I am honored to be joining the Board of the Kent County Arts Council. The arts are a big part of what makes Kent County special,” he said, “and an even bigger part of what will help the County continue to thrive in the future. I am absolutely excited to be able to work with the rest of the Board and with John to support the arts in our community and to develop and execute on a vision that will see the arts improve the lives of all Kent County residents.”

The Kent County Arts Council seeks to invest in, infuse, and inspire artists and arts organizations throughout Kent County in an effort to expand access to the arts for all residents and visitors.