Kennebunk Savings is sponsoring a performance series aimed at celebrating diverse voices in Seacoast, New Hampshire. The Sol Series, staged by the Seacoast Repertory Theatre and curated by playwright Najee Brown, is the recipient of a $7,500 grant from the bank in support of its mission of representation and inclusion. The Sol Series staged theatrical and musical performances, online and in person, across venues in 2020, and is ramping up for much more in 2021.
“The arts supply us with a different set of tools for examining our world and ourselves,” said Bradford C. Paige, Kennebunk Savings’ president and CEO, in a written statement. “We get a new angle on what we thought was an old issue. We learn to see each other in a different light. We’re excited to support this kind of work, to help share Najee’s particular vision, and to amplify more voices like his.”
Brown, a Brooklyn native who has made his permanent home on the Seacoast, was originally a visiting artist at the Green Acre Baha’i School in Eliot — a stay that was lengthened and complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I lost a lot of people to COVID,” Brown said in an email. “And still, 2020 was perhaps the most incredible year of my life. Being here, and being able to tell these stories — being a part of a community and seeing that community actively changing — I got lemons and built a whole lemonade stand with them.”
Under the Sol Series umbrella, Brown has launched town hall discussions, a “Sol Food” series with chef Evan Mallet of The Black Trumpet, and productions of several of his own original plays, including “The Bus Stop,” which examines the impact of incarceration on Black families, and “Stokely & Martin,” which depicts a real-life encounter between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Stokely Carmichael of the Black Panthers.
“Businesses need to make a commitment to supporting serious, fundamental and foundational change in how we as a society respect, engage and treat all people,” Paige said. “It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen any one way; it will ultimately take years of very intentional planning, action and reinforcement to make a measurable difference. But the arts are a very persuasive and powerful engine for getting that movement started, and then keeping it moving forward.”
Lights back on at Hackmatack Playhouse
The lights will be back on at Hackmatack Playhouse in Berwick this summer. Thanks to new state guidelines for staying healthy, Hackmatack will not only hold its day camp, but for its 49th anniversary season will run the musical, “The Spitfire Grill,” during the month of August.
“The Spitfire Grill,” a musical set in a diner in Maine, will open 8 pm Friday, Aug. 6, and continues with evening shows 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug 7, and every Wednesday to Saturday in August after that. Hackmatack will also offer matinee shows at 2 p.m. Thursdays, Aug. 12, 19 and 26.
“The state increased indoor capacity to 100 percent, so the show can go on,” said Michael Guptill, owner of Hackmatack, in an email.
With new recommendations for people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, Guptill is optimistic the local summer stock theater can once again provide entertainment in a barn in Maine that has been operating for more than four decades.
The musical will be directed by Hackmatack’s new artistic director, Danielle Howard of Dover, New Hampshire. Howard discovered a love for musical theater as well as for Hackmatack when she was a voice major at the University of New Hampshire. She has since earned her master’s degree in directing and worked in theater around the country. She has directed several shows at Hackmatack and was hired as artistic director in 2020 before the season was canceled due to the pandemic.
Hackmatack’s day camp, now in its 42nd year, will run three weeks beginning on June 28 and ending with a performance of “Peter Pan.” The camp is targeted to children age 7 to 13.
Reservations for “The Spitfire Grill” can be made by phone at 207-698-1807 or email at [email protected]
Hackmatack Playhouse owner Michael Guptill prepares the Berwick farmland for the season, when the summer stock stage will once again offer entertainment.
Hackmatack Playhouse’s summer stock stage will once again offer entertainment and kids will, like last year, be welcomed back to an all-day camp.
Brick Store Museum wins 2021 Award of Excellence
The American Association for State and Local History announced last week that the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk is the recipient of an Award of Excellence for its Century Saturdays Program Series. The association’s Leadership in History Awards, now in its 76th year, is considered the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.
Originally planned as an in-person program, but converted to digital during the pandemic, the Brick Store Museum created the Century Saturdays Program series, which premiered once per month (on a Saturday) from May through October 2020. Each program featured one century per month (starting with the 16th century) of local history. Although online, the museum produced an immersive experience for visitors to get the chance to see, smell, taste, hear and touch the different centuries that led to the present.
The Century Portals (which can still be accessed on the museum’s Digital Learning Center at brickstoremuseum.org) included video lecturers; at-home activities; historic recipes; and related social histories like music, gardening and even included special “take-out” historic meals to share at home.
Overall, the museum’s portals welcomed nearly 13,000 virtual visitors between May and December 2020 – more than its average in-person visitation in a normal year (roughly 8,500). The project was funded by grants from the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Bicentennial Committee.
This year, the association presented 38 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits and publications.
According to a news release from the association, “The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.”
Fifth annual LAUNCH! A Maritime Festival is a go
LAUNCH! A Maritime Festival is scheduled for June 16-20.
The festival celebrates the Kennebunk region’s seafaring history with events for all ages at locations throughout Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel. For a schedule of events, visit Check out launchfestme.com for the full schedule.
LAUNCH! is adding new events this year, including Claws for a Cause, where diners can go to more than 15 participating restaurants on the Lobster Roll Trail of the Kennebunks on June 19, with $2 from the sale of each lobster roll going to the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.
“As a fishing community, we wanted to highlight the good work of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association at our events this year, and encourage people to donate to their support,” said Laura Dolce, executive director of the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Arundel Chamber of Commerce, in a news release. “With so many threats to local lobstermen and their way of life, we are so proud of the generosity of our participating restaurants in supporting – in so many ways – this great organization.”
· Sailors & Sirens 5K a beachside run. Participants are encouraged to wear nautical-themed costumes.
· Castaway Cove for Kids on the Village Green, in the heart of Kennebunkport, featuring buoy decorating, touch tanks and bouncy obstacle courses.
· RELAUNCH with Portside, a nautical-themed cocktail party benefitting Ben’s Fight.
· River Lights Boat Parade. Boats bedecked in lights carrying costumed passengers and accompanied by music make their way down the Kennebunk River after dark, as hundreds of spectators cheer from shore.
· Traditional Blessing of the Fleet in Cape Porpoise village, wishing captains and crew a safe and bountiful season.
Throughout the five-day festival, visitors can participate in historic walking tours with costumed interpreters, Wednesday night After Hours at White Columns, candle and wine event with Sea Love Candles and Maine+Vine and Art Trail of the Kennebunks.
For more information contact the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Arundel Chamber of Commerce at 207-967-0857, visit www.gokennebunks.com or launchfestme.com, or follow the LAUNCH! A Maritime Festival on Facebook.