Figures of Speech Theatre and the Island Institute have partnered to produce "The Art of Memory: Stories from Maine's Outer Islands," a shadow puppet film based on oral histories gathered on some of Maine's most remote islands.
Figures of Speech Theatre Director of Education Ian Bannon led a team of four artists in a year-and-a-half-long collaboration with the students in six of the one- and two-room schoolhouses off Maine's coast. In the spring of 2015, Bannon traveled to each island to introduce students to documentary techniques, which they then used to cull stories from other island residents, historical archives, and publications. The entire artistic team returned in the fall of 2015 to collaborate in the creation and filming of shadow puppet adaptations of their favorite stories.
The resulting 35-minute film combines a variety of shorts ranging from pirate stories to tall-tales to ill-conceived stand-offs with Abenaki Native Americans. The pieces are held together with a layered dreamscape of shadow imagery, narration from some of Portland's most sought-after voiceover artists, and a captivating original musical score by Dave Noyes of Rustic Overtones.
The FOSSE (Figures of Speech Student Ensemble), now in its sixth season, brings professional artists into direct collaboration with students to devise original performances using Figures of Speech Theatre's signature blend of puppets, masks, shadows, music, actors and dance.
The Island Institute works to sustain Maine’s island and remote coastal communities, and exchanges ideas and experiences to further the sustainability of communities here and elsewhere. The Institute's Outer Islands TLC (Teaching and Learning Collaborative) improves the quality and ensures the sustainability of one- and two-room island schools on Cliff, Cranberry Isles, Frencboro, Isle au Haut, Matinicus, and Monhegan by creating collaborative educational and social opportunities for students across islands via technology and face-to-face learning opportunities.
"The Art of Memory" was made possible through the generous support of the Helen & George Ladd Charitable Corporation, the Expansion Arts Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.