We started our trip with a nice dinner at the Fairport Family Restaurant, with the board members of our community partner, the Finnish Heritage Museum. I think we all ordered the fresh grouper! It was a lovely opportunity to introduce the museum to our new team members, to catch them up with the recent development for the project, and to hear about all of the snow that covered Fairport this past winter!
The following day, we gathered at Fairport Harding High School for a reading of the first draft of the play. We had a great turn out and many of the people who joined us were the same individuals who participated and shared their stories in the story circles we hosted in Fairport last May. We assigned everyone who wanted to participate a part and casually read the script together from start to finish. The play is fictional, but there are a few parts inspired by specific people's ancestors-- so we made sure those people got to read those lines! It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by so many familiar faces and to hear the play out loud for the first time.
We spent the following afternoon working with a group drama students. We made newspaper "pauper statue" puppets based on large wooden figures that will be manipulated by puppeteers in the final performance. The students came up with some really personable characters and then learned the three basic principals of puppetry -- gravity, focus and breath. After a quick puppet training session, we spent the rest of the time getting to know the students, learning about their favorite spots in the village, and their visions for the future of their community. We wanted to know what they thought should be included in a play and if they thought it was important to learn about their ancestors. Much of what they shared will help inspire two new scenes. Plus-- we learned that there is a ton of natural artistic talent in the room that we can put to use when we come back to present the play in the fall.
We're looking forward to coming back in August for community auditions, followed by a three month residency this fall to rehearse and present the play for the community! More details coming soon. Until then, please enjoy this gallery with some other fun photos from our visit!