After a successful inaugural season, made possible by backers' support of ten to a thousand dollar donations, we are launching our second season with a more inclusive mission. By the generosity of individual donors like yourselves, matching funders, and grants, we can bring Threadbare to rural communities across the country. Thank you for joining us!
Threadbare Theatre Workshop presents The Royal Tar, an original, participatory performance at Burnt Cove Church; engaging Deer Isle and neighboring peninsula communities in all aspects of crafting this true story that has become legend up and down the coast of Maine.
W H O W E A R E We illuminate epics in a simple way through the magic of resourceful storytelling; laying bare our humanity so we may thread more empathy into existence. We are committed to making theatre from scratch across the local landscape; engaging alternative spaces to foster creative partnerships within the community.
Most recently, we launched a new community engagement model that marries Threadbare’s original theatremaking with our Occupy Poetry workshops specifically to celebrate and elevate the heritage of rural places across America; making art not only for the community but WITH the community. Our first endeavor outside of New York City is The Royal Tar, to be performed in Maine on Deer Isle at summer's end.
T H E S T O R Y Inspired by the sewing circle of women who launched Burnt Cove Church years ago, we spin the legend of The Royal Tar through the eyes of a young immigrant girl, Fionnuala, who boarded its fated planks on a Friday in 1836. The Royal Tar was a glorious new steamship carrying aristocrats and immigrants, a traveling circus complete with a menagerie (including an elephant, two lionesses, camels, pelicans, snakes-- word is still out on the leopard), and a full brass band, headed for Portland but tragically caught fire trying to escape a violent gale and sunk in Penobscot Bay.
This true story sparks the imaginations of local nonagenarians and five year olds alike; fishermen and farmers; mothers and sons born and bred here and their kindred from away. Everyone is tickled it seems and quick to share their anecdote passed down from generations: the tiger spotted behind grandma’s clothesline; the elephant leg bones on Brimstone island; the tales of heroism and cowardice and where their alliances lie; the hidden treasure never found; the lighthouse keeper’s wife and her prophetic vision; the mysterious flare in the distance seen every October since.
We're curious how historical facts evolve into legend and lore over time and how that evolution might say more about who we are now than who we were then. We are malleable beings and so are the stories we tell. What are we hungry to hear? What are we anxious to impart? Which stories do we belong to? Where does the wonder live on?
The tragic story of the Royal Tar holds in one vessel a microcosm of all humanity-- wealthy steerage passengers tucked away in private cabins, immigrants seeking the American dream; cooking out on deck and sleeping under the stars, all journeying together with Mother Nature’s creatures through her elements at their most extreme. EARTH refined by man’s skillful hand to shape a vessel that sails the mighty arteries of this WATERY globe, only to catch FIRE, and collide with AIR at its most vicious and profound. What does this moment of impact illuminate in us? How do we rescue or fail one another? Why do the ones who instinctively know to swim, drown? And the ones who have never tread water, survive? Before "Women and children first" was ever codified (most of the Royal Tar’s dead are immigrant women and children), the final survivor plucked from the burning Tar, rowed to safety all on her lonesome, is one woman who has watched her own sister perish in the sea; who has clung to the side of the ship and her very life for four hours before a lifeboat makes its last pass.
O U R C O M M U N I T Y C O L L A B O R A T O R S Meg Chittenden of Blue Hill; Composer | Tinker Crouch of Deer Isle; Island Heritage Consultant | Jon Ellsworth of Brooklin; Set Designer | Lily Felsenthal of Stonington; Dramaturg | Karen Grover of Penobscot; Seven Sisters Arts | Mia Kanazawa of Brooksville; Craft & Mask Maker | Sam Lothrop of Deer Isle; Sound Designer | Joshua McCarey of Sedgwick; Choreographer & Performer | Bridget Semler of Brooksville; Musician & Performer | Matt Shaw of Bucksport; Videographer & Documentarian | Our Ensemble of All Ages from Deer Isle & Beyond
O U R M I S S I O N The Royal Tar festival seeks to explore how we can make the circle of theatremaking bigger, not smaller. The Royal Tar festival is a socially engaged endeavor activating community members as collaborators, rather than passive receptors. The days leading up to performances we will host an open door series of free events, where the community is invited to gather and make music, read poetry and plays, display quilts or fancy work, and just eat and drink together. The festival culminates in three free performances of The Royal Tar, performed alongside community members; designed by local artisans, makers, and musicians; supported by backers like YOU. Please join us!
In a globalized world at the heights of technological connectivity, we are hiding deeper inside the islands of ourselves. How can we gather the corners of community into the center of the playing space to make meaningful connections with one another and with art? Thank you for joining us on this mission.
“No one religion can console this enormous country. No single philosophy convince it. No therapy relieve it of it’s burdens. No medicine deliver it from pain. No legal system comfort it’s injustice. No government give it joy. Art does all that.” -Romulus Linney
E V E R M O R E T H A N K S to Matt Shaw for the filming & editing of this video; Meg Chittenden for her stunning vocals; Lauren Orscheln for the image of her art work; Jane Buck; Blue Hill Wineshop; and Burnt Cove Church Community Center.
Risks and challenges
Please note: while Opera House Arts has provided invaluable support for this project through the OHA Harbor Residency program— for which we are most grateful— THE ROYAL TAR is not an OHA production. All contributions will go towards Threadbare Theatre Workshop.
We understand that with any work-in-progress there are unforeseen challenges that might arise along the project's trajectory. Threadbare Theatre Workshop is committed to the utmost transparency with its generous donors throughout the entire journey towards opening night on August 31st, 2018.
Please feel free to message us here with any questions or concerns throughout.
- (30 days)