Choirspeak: The Maine Woods

Choirspeak: The Maine Woods was a performance event that sought to develop state-wide dialogue around the future of the North Woods in Maine.  The project began in the winter of 2007-2008 with a series of visits to the communities of Rumford, Belfast, Greenville, Millinocket, and Portland, Maine.  A small group of Open Waters artists interviewed store owners, park rangers, barber shop customers, first-time visitors, wreath makers, and a variety of others as to their memories, feelings, and opinions about woodlands in Maine.  Conversations lasted anywhere from two minutes to two hours and covered everything from public access to landowner rights, economic growth to preservation, and childhood memories to hopeful visions of change.

In the spring of 2008, the material from our interview process was transcribed, edited, and compiled into a performance script for 3-10 actors.  The piece was developed in the spirit of a choral event and was presented to the public in workshop form in July of 2008.  

I think of the Maine woods as like my church, my most - God I’m gonna cry - my most sacred - place.
— Karolyn
My dear girl…. Back in the 70’s, this store was the complete downstairs, it was all store. There were 2 women who worked full time, I worked full time, my husband worked out back ; he was a jeweler and watchmaker and he always had an apprentice with him. So there were 2 out back, busy,busy,busy. We’d all come home for dinner as a family and watch the news and he’d be right back down here at 7 and work until 11.

It has gone from that to this. I’m all by myself in this little tiny store and yesterday I did not have one single customer, not one. So the paper mills have greatly affected (us). Now we’re hoping that the tourist business will take over and bring these communities back to life again. But its never ever gonna be what it was.
— Patty

Choirspeak Collaborators:

Wade Brainerd, Research Team
Jennie Hahn, Research Team, Producer, Director
Virginia Collins, Research Team, Performer
Anna Korsen, Research Team
Chris Reiling, Research Team
Tess Van Horn, Research Team, Performer
Michael Wilson, Performer