Nearly 30 students from area Midcoast schools and home schools, in grades 3-8, are ready to present Heartwood Theater’s sixth annual winter middle school production, “The Snow Maiden.” This great ensemble of hard-working and committed students auditioned and were cast into roles in early December.
“The Snow Maiden” is a very old tale with roots in Russian and Asian culture. Under other such titles as “The Snow Child” and “Snegorka,” the basic story lives on in the story of “Frosty, the Snowman” and provides a basis for opera and ballet versions and adolescent novels. This is the third original adaptation by Heartwood’s Artistic Director Griff Braley, having produced versions in 1993 and 2006. Braley is excited to be working with a fine artistic team, helping students to bring this magical piece to life.
Nearly all students help narrate and have broadened their learning and skills to include dance and movement, puppetry and song. Student technicians will be running light and sound, under the mentorship of high school students, a few steps beyond these youngsters.
Figures of Speech Theater Company's Ian Bannon worked in residence for several days, first demonstrating and then helping build student designed Bunraku puppets. (These pieces come from an ancient Japanese tradition and are startling in their simplistic beauty.)
Heidi Kopishke, a key player in this annual middle school theatrical event, has delivered a fantastic array of costumes, built on research of the Russian period adaptations of the piece. Guy Scott, from Boothbay, provides original songs and tracks for several key moments in the show, setting the mood from the outset. Mary Boothby worked with Braley to design and create an intriguingly simple, yet elegant, set.
Braley, also directing Lincoln Academy’s (LA) competitive One Act piece (also being performed this winter), decided to try something new - simultaneously producing two slightly different original adaptations, with both groups of students. The benefits of this overlap have been invaluable. While devising their own version of “The Snow Maiden,” numerous LA students have worked on the production side of the show to teach, create, support and mentor the middle school students.
Kayleigh Tolley and May Halm devised and taught choreography; Kai-Lin Shen, Ryan Naylor and Ben Schwink have worked with middle school student techs on lighting and sound; Heartwood's Intern crew also includes Isaac Russell and Emily Harris, both of whom created scenery for the middle school production. LA students Aria Tan, Jonah Daiute, Logan Heath, John Cook and Honora Boothby worked alongside Ian Bannon, to design and build two beautiful puppet characters, Ivan and Maroushka.
Three daytime performances will be filled with 450 students and teachers from seven Midcoast schools on Feb. 1 and 2. Three public performances are scheduled in the Poe Theater at Lincoln Academy (81 Academy Hill Rd., Newcastle) at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 and Saturday, Feb. 2 at 3 and 7 p.m.