Farms & Fables

Does everybody turn into farmers?

A full-length original play, Farms & Fables was developed through a multi-year collaboration with three family farms in southern Maine. During research, core artists participated in daily farm operations while conducting group conversations and interviews with partnering farmers. Our farm partners directly assisted in the script revision process, and some performed in the play. The script focused on relationships between farmers, the challenges of transitioning a farm from one generation to the next, and the realities of starting a new farm business. This project was in development from January 2008 through October 2011. 

photos by Claire Guyer

Everywhere I look it’s a farm in a fever. This bounty is its delirious dreaming.

The Farms & Fables artistic team maintained extensive written and photographic documentation of project research, development, and production. Peruse the archives on the OFAF blog.

A Chance to See
From the OFAF Blog, October 24, 2011

Today, today is the day of our long-awaited Load-In.  I have been in the theater, what used to be the Great Room at Camp Ketcha, all day and I imagine I’ll be here well into the night.  All around me there is activity.  Seth and Heather building and testing at the tech table, Perry and Chris rigging The Barn, Gregg hanging curtains in the hall’s massive windows to block light during our matinee performances. 

I took a break about an hour ago and went out for a walk on the Camp Ketcha grounds.  I was in need of fresh air and the last of the day’s light.  There’s a trail across the fields that heads out through the camp’s ropes course in the woods, past a pond and across the Libby River Farm, owned by the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust, ending at the Scarborough Marsh.  The Libby River in its current honorific is named for my ancestor some twelve generations back, a Mr. John Libby, who settled on Pine Point in 1632. 

When I left the room, I had no idea where I was headed or how long I would be gone.  I emerged from the woods into a clearing with a stalwart pine on its southern border.  I rounded a bend and passed through long grasses, bittersweet popping like fire to my left and right.  Burning bush, deeper maroon and purple, hunched low in the cattails.  I was careful to keep my feet dry.  As I walked, I thought about journeys. Discoveries made, unexpected surprises: a stand of birch with a dozen leaves remaining on their topmost branches, saluting the season, beckoning nightfall.  A nervous Penny Jordan staunchly delivering her lines and creatively concocting solutions through a minefield of dropped cues.  Eddie Benson and his daughter Kati, in my rehearsal room, coaching our actors in the staging of a cow chase.

I thought about journeys: how we start without knowing, how we traverse multiple subtle landscapes, how we find comfort in reminders of home.  I walked steadily across land once roamed by generations of my own family, unsure of my goal but purposeful in uncertainty, remembering beginnings, honoring passage.  Nearing the marsh at the end of the trail I felt my pace quicken with anticipation of the finish and when I reached it I discovered: an observation deck.  A place to gain perspective

Why do I make community-based theater?  What has been the value of my Farms & Fables journey?  Only a bit of perspective.  Only a chance to see, with eyes that are cleared with wonder: a complex, delicate, and vital ecosystem of human relationships, and a collaborative creation of great beauty.

J. Hahn

But when your feet are on it, your hands deep in it, weeding it, kneading it, it’s your mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, child, blue sea, sorrullitos, endless summer, your yesterday and tomorrow.

Farms & Fables Collaborators:

Artistic Ensemble

Claire Guyer, Dramaturge, Documentarian, Puppet Designer and Performer
Jennie Hahn, Director and Producer
Cory Tamler, Playwright




Partnering Farms

Wm. H. Jordan Farm, Cape Elizabeth, ME

Broadturn Farm, Scarborough, ME

Benson Farm LLC, Gorham, ME

Advisory Board

Stephanie Gilbert, Maine Dept. of Agriculture
Cheryl Laz, USM Dept. of Sociology
Rebecca Millett, Cape Elizabeth School Board
Tessy Seward, ROiL

Production Team

Keith Anctil, Research Ensemble Member
Seth Asa, Sound Designer
Gregg Carville, Production Manager
Heather Crocker, Lighting Designer
Emily Dixon, Stage Manager
Renee Garcia, Costume Designer
Chris Price, Scenic Designer

Community Partners

Cape Farm Alliance
Maine Farmland Trust
Scarborough Land Conservation Trust
Threshold to Maine

Initial funding for Farms & Fables was generously provided by the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust.