‘Shelter’ ‘an outstanding, compelling work of art’
It’s rare “past” occurrences make it to the column without a clear future track. But “Shelter,” The Neoteric Dance Collaborative original, written by Catherine Stewart and choreographed Sarah Duclos, and performed onstage Feb. 11 at The Music Hall in Portsmouth warrants a break from tradition.
As a one-night production, it also doesn’t receive an official theater review. But, as an outstanding, compelling work of art it deserves note.
“Shelter, A One Billion Rising Event” depicts the history and movement of safe havens for victims of violence; the movement’s impetus, development and those taking refuge and giving it.
In addition to the word and dance narrative, the production features a beautiful, fitting original score by Randy Armstrong, and powerful illustrations by Rachel Stewart (animated by Catherine Stewart).
The show focuses largely on a true story of one woman’s long, harrowing and difficult journey. But, importantly it speaks to the many faces of abuse and the affect it has on those that are subjected to it.
“Shelter” tells its story in a poetic, yet startling and evocative manner. The action takes place on a stripped-down stage in front of the bold, simple black and white graphics; the movement and mood of each piece perfectly accented or emphasized by Armstrong’s often haunting score.
The all-women cast perform as dance weaves in, whether a first blissful meeting, a scene at a local club, or a horrifying incident, made all the more frightening for its slow motion choreography. The dance is always the right touch, whether light and spirited, or dark and unnerving.
“Shelter” is a very special type of theater, a wonderful concept, skillfully and attractively executed, with vision and purpose.
In addition, all the performers, and the illustrator donated their time to the project, which benefits HAVEN, (https://havennh.org/) the organization that offers support and shelter in our community.
There is talk of taking “Shelter” on the road. Hopefully the support will be found to make that happen, and – hopefully – bring it back to the Seacoast. This is a play well worth your time, and thought.
Drag Queen Story Hour March 10
The Portsmouth City Library, ever the true community resource, will get a bit more colorful with Drag Queen Story Hour featuring Bunny Wonderland and Rita Fluxx on Saturday, March 10 from 2 to 3 p.m.
“It will be specifically for children, but children are welcome to bring an adult,” Public Programming and Community Relations Librarian Laura Horwood-Benton says. “They will be reading a couple of books to the kids, and we’ll also have a little dance party and a craft where kids can make their own paper crown. There will also be time for questions for the drag queens as well.”
It’s not a first of its kind. There are like readings in other states. Youth Services staff member Andrew Houldsworth suggested Portsmouth give it a try.
“We were most inspired by the Brooklyn program in New York,” Horwood-Benton says. “And it was something the whole programming committee was excited about.”
Horwood-Benton likens it to other library programs such as “Ask a Muslim Anything,” or “Ask a Transperson Anything.”
“Those have been more geared toward adults, and met with acclaim in the community because we offer a safe and welcoming environment to interact with a culture, or type of person, or a way of life we don’t know much about,” she says. “So we wanted to offer the same for kids who respond naturally to the element of dress-up, gender fluidity, and performance in a drag show.”
Landing Bunny Wonderland was the topper. “She is a vital contributor to the arts and highly popular performer on the Seacoast,” Horwood-Benton said. “And she actually has a background in childhood education.”
PPMtv raising money for new equipment
“Well,” PPMtv Executive Director Bill Humphries starts, “we’re trying to raise a little money over here.”
And about time, those involved say. Seems the community station is in need of some new programming equipment, and pronto. “The current computer is done in.”
“It is responsible for keeping all the programs in the station going around in a circle,” Humphries says. “The problem is it’s getting to the end of its life and it’s very cantankerous and rather cranky.”
Currently, it only allows programming for .mpg2 format. More than 90 percent of the submissions to the station arrive in other formats, which require conversion.
“It demands a tremendous amount of human resource to keep the station going,” Humphries says. “So, we’re raising some money. We have a match … and if we can raise $12,500 then the match will provide the remaining funds necessary to buy the new computer and computer software. That will allow a lot more flexibility of what we put on air, and how quickly we get it there.”
They will start with a Kickstarter Campaign. As this is a production facility, they decided to put together a video – “something more than a talking head, give an entertainment value,” he says.
Chad Cordner, Cheri Bach, Roxie Zwicker, Eddie Phi and Humphries (staff members and essential volunteers) wrote the script and produced “a take-off on ‘The Office,'” Humphries says. “We expect to be live before the end of February.”
Bonita’s Bermuda workshop a success
Artist and gallery owner Todd Bonita recently returned from his school’s inaugural painting workshop trip to Bermuda, “and it was a smashing success.”
Bonita, who owns a Portsmouth and Ogunquit fine art gallery and the Ogunquit Summer School of Art, has long offered workshops, largely held in New England, that feature regional and national painters, “one of the best-kept secrets in the art world,” Bonita says.
“But, now in 2018, we’ve committed to international workshops including one in Bermuda in January and in Italy in September.”
The first Bermuda trip was limited to 10 (plus his mom and a friend, he adds). “I wanted to keep it small and relaxed … to feel it out,” he says. “It was four days of workshop, six nights, four beaches … and 70 degrees the whole time.”
He’s back, working on the coming workshops and gallery exhibits and his first solo show, scheduled for the Portsmouth gallery.
“This summer I’ll be celebrating my fiftieth birthday,” Bonita says. “And so I’ll do it with my very first solo show in the months of July and August.” (More info at ogunquitartcolony.com.)
Haley Gallery to reopen
The Haley Gallery, Kittery, Maine, is back. Owner Jackie Abramian has simply missed it, and what it brought to the community.
“The gallery will open on April 5 with a different business model,” Abramian says. ” There won’t be any exhibits. (Instead) we’ll focus on events and programs, and offer the space for meetings and workshops.”
That’s not to say there won’t be art. There will be. Lots. The gallery will forgo the usual monthly rotations and openings, but still change work frequently.
It will also offer lectures, educational workshops, and meetings, and “maybe a mini film festival, with four or five, 10-minute documentaries or something,” she says. “We provide a safe space for visitors to drop by, experience art … or bring their laptops and co-work with others around our communal shared tables.”
The gallery will also offer fine craft. “I really want to emphasize (they are) social impact gifts, connected to a social cause, nothing mass produced.” (More info at https://www.facebook.com/HaleyGallery/)
Haley Farm will also continue to offer its Tea-Time Art, by reservation only, “a two-hour Victorian tea-time affair with antique teacups and saucers and locally sourced sweets.”
Gunst to join Chef’s Table series
Months after meeting Hannaford’s VP of Marketing Maile Buker at a party, Kathy Gunst got a call and a request to be one of the company’s chefs for its Hannaford Chef’s Table series, a new childhood nutrition program that will raise funds and awareness.
“I was really honored to be one of four chefs asked to be part of this program,” Gunst says. “My mission of eat local, eat healthy, matched their vision perfectly.”
“I will be involved in community action and furthering the cause of helping families understand how to eat well and stay healthy,” she says.
New recipes by Gunst are already featured in Hannaford’s February newsletters, web pages, magazine and in stores.
Gunst juggles this latest responsibility with writing for magazines and newspapers, and work on a new, non cook book. “And yes I am still the Resident Chef for NPR’s ‘Here and Now,'” she says. “My work for NPR’s ‘Here and Now’ was just nominated for a coveted IACP award for Best Webcast or Radio Show!” Hopefully some great news to come.
Photos, fine art sought for puzzles
Diversions Puzzles & Games has a call out for photos and fine art images for possible use on jigsaw puzzles.
“We have two stores and we’ve created our own line of … local images,” General Manager Laura Keith says. “We are looking to add to our line.”
Iconic Portsmouth depictions are preferred, but others would be considered. Images that feature lots of variation in color and texture, and bright colors – “that’s the kind of thing we’re looking for,” Keith says.
If interested: Submit online portfolios of numerous pics, or a single image to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is March 2.
Jeanné McCartin has her eyes and ears out for Seacoast gossip. E-mail email@example.com.