Reviewer responds to letter writer

I want to publicly thank Ms. Joan Sheldon of Knox for speaking out about this newspaper’s recent review of “Nunsense II” put on by the Marsh River Players in Brooks [“In praise of the plays at Marsh River,” Letters to the editor, Oct. 27 edition]. I have heard that her views have been shared by many in the theater company and beyond. Her letter provides me with an opportunity to respond publicly to the distress going around.

My review of the most recent musical production put on by Marsh River Players centered around the question, “Why do we go to the theater?” My response today might address the question, “Why do we read and write reviews?”

Advertisements are designed to excite the public about upcoming productions. Calendar listings give details about the show and newspapers print photographs of actors in costume. Letters to the editor by fans might give praise and urge folks out to see the show. Reviews, however, provide the first outside view of the production by someone unaffiliated with the show. They shed new light and give depth to the kind of gushing praise that we expect from publicity.

Why do theater companies seek out these reviews? It is they who provide reviewers with a good seat, after all, free of charge. But when a review includes anything other than abject praise, this group calls foul. As Ms. Sheldon states in defense of the production and players, “We like who we are and what we can do.” It’s as though the group were saying, “Accept what you see. We can’t do any better. We’re only a small town. We don’t have the resources. Just give us praise, please.”

I don’t buy this belittling of rural Maine. I have experienced some of the best productions and the most powerful acting I’ve ever seen right here in Waldo County. When my daughter was 3, some 20 years ago, we went to see a Maskers’ production of “The Madwoman of Chaillot” that was riveting. These were local players; this was rural Maine. Yet, the children who lined the front row sat enraptured by the action for hours, as we all did. You could hear a pin drop in the audience.

Marsh River Theater has the potential to deliver such theater, as much as anywhere else. The true subject matter of all theater is human beings, after all. We are all experts. Digging down into our raw experience is the basis of all great acting and we all have access to our inner reaches.

Compelling theater is, at its core, about vulnerability. The heart needs to open. This is more of an attitude than anything. I urge this community theater to avail themselves of acting, dancing and voice teachers in the area, many of whom would volunteer their time to a troupe of actors who sought to deliver the promise of the sacred stage. We go to watch; let us be entertained.

Jennifer Hill



Of jobs, debts and co-ops

I recently heard that Forbes Magazine listed Maine dead last as a place to do business. That bit of information adds to the clamor of businesspeople and politicians that we need a more competitive work force, or less regulation, lower taxes, lower minimum wages, and on and on.

We need to give it all away so that as a work force we can compete with slave wages in other parts of the world. Free trade agreements have been created with the force of law to make it easier for those with the capital to move to the lowest-cost work force. This strategy doesn’t benefit any work force, even the so- called winners.

I have lived and worked in Maine all my life. When I started my work life in Belfast in the late 1970s, the town was hemorrhaging jobs. According to the “History of Belfast,” this town has never been kind to the working person. We are told we need more skills. To get skills you need an education. When I hear the word “education,” one thing pops into my mind: debt; my debt, not the state’s debt, not my employer’s debt, but mine.

OK, let’s say this employer moves to a better business climate. Now, I have debt and no job. A new business comes to town that needs different skill sets, and that means more education, more debt: my debt. These businesses are like fickle lovers; they have no commitment to their workers.

Why are these businesses so fickle? Simple: it is in the very definition of what a corporation is — the sole purpose of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders. It only makes sense that they will always look for the best labor deal. Workers living and working in their communities are nothing to these industrial machines on the hunt for money, nothing but commodities.

So, this is what is needed: a new business model, one that encourages a business to stay where it is planted, one that takes the needs of the work force out of the hands of a few absentee owners who may not even know where the business is located.

This business model already exists. It’s called a cooperative and it has been successful at providing good-paying jobs with benefits all over the world. What is stopping us from using this model to start new businesses in Maine?

Here’s where the politicians come in. Our state’s leaders can make a difference by creating infrastructure needed to get cooperatives off the ground. This is the way to real jobs that can make a difference — for us as individuals, and for our communities.

Marshall Rolerson



Summary of summer season at Belfast Museum

The Belfast Museum has closed for the season and what a great season we had! The guest book was signed by 793 visitors from 40 states and five foreign countries, the most ever. And because there are always a few who don’t sign we almost certainly went over the 800 mark.

As part of our continuing efforts at self-assessment we carefully note visitor comments about the museum, which are universally favorable. One day George Squibb, museum archivist, randomly asked a visitor for an interview and learned that the visitor was the ornithology curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. A well qualified judge gave the Belfast Museum a rave review.

As always, our summer student interns served us well. Sierra Ventura focused on bringing more order and broader cross-referencing to our large archive regarding historic residences and commercial buildings. Veronica Penniman staffed the front desk, greeted visitors, gave tours, performed administrative functions and cataloged collections. Both are back in school now, but they stay in touch. Sierra plans to return for a second summer next year.

The Student Intern Program has been made possible by the generous annual support of our membership and, for the last two summers, the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation. We thank all of them for their generous commitment to this outstanding program — which leads us directly to a heart-warming intern story.

When George returned to the museum from lunch one day in August, he found intern Veronica Penniman giving a tour to two women. Both visitors were totally deaf and one was only partially sighted. Veronica was busily signing for both, a skill she had been learning with her mother, and was giving items to the blind woman to hold and feel to better “see” them. A week later we received a beautifully gracious note from the two women expressing gratitude for a wonderful museum experience. All of us can be very, very proud of our interns.

Current membership stands at 224, the most ever, with 15 new members joining us in 2010. Several became members when they purchased house plaques through a Historical Society program. To date 38 plaques have been placed, and a house plaque would make a fine Holiday gift, which would include a Historical Society membership.

No doubt everyone saw the scaffolding up on the front and rear of the museum this summer. Thanks to generous grants we have been able to complete full repair of the brick on three sides of the building. Many readers may also have noticed the new museum sign highly visible from Post Office Square, which we think probably contributed to increased museum attendance. A new sign has been acquired for the front of the building and will be mounted in the spring.

The Belfast Historical Society collaborated with The Game Loft on its program, “1968: Gone But Not Forgotten,” which took place in Belfast in August. Many people attended some of the events. The museum provided information about Belfast during the ‘60s and a station where interviewees could record their memories of the period. We look forward to future collaborative programs with The Game Loft.

As always, volunteers are needed for archival work, organizing and cataloging collections, putting order to news clippings, etc. Anyone who would like to help out should call 338-9229.

The museum is scheduled to re-open June 18, 2011. Until then it is open by appointment. Monthly program meetings will return in the spring and a schedule will be posted when available. Check the Web site for information about programs, news, house marker forms and memberships. Thank you.

Megan Pinette


Belfast Historical Society


Thanks for a frightfully successful event

On behalf of the Friends of Fort Knox, we wish to thank the many volunteers who helped make this year’s annual Fright at the Fort such a great success. The event, which ran for four nights, attracted nearly 9,000 visitors and raised substantial funds for the organization. Along with many community volunteers, the Searsport District High School drama club provided dozens of enthusiastic student volunteers. The Friends would also like to extend a thank-you to the University of Maine’s Delta Tau Delta fraternity and the 20th Maine Company B Civil War re-enactors for their help with the event.

Fright has grown into one of the largest Halloween events in Maine and this year marked the 11th season. Fright proceeds help the Friends of Fort Knox continue its mission to preserve the Fort and enhance its educational, cultural and economic value for the people of Maine. Again, thank you Fright volunteers, we couldn’t do it without you!

Leon Seymour

Executive Director,

Friends of Fort Knox


Thanks to those who made Jackson memorial a reality

The Jackson Veterans’ Memorial Committee wishes to thank everyone who helped and volunteered their time and efforts to make this so successful.

A special thanks needs to go to the Republican Journal and VillageSoup for their impeccable coverage and support before, during and after our dedication.

Thank you, Marlene and Clifford Thompson, Daryl Ricker, Richard Johnson, David Ricker, Bud Ricker, Bruce Thompson, Colleen Barrows, Harold Moore, Roger Murry, Beverly Ludden, Lisa Larrabee, Joline Doerson, Debbie and Johnny Ludden, Martin Vogel, Alden Brown, George Faulkner, Dale and Elaine Hustus, Brian Thompson, Clarence Bickford Jr., Tom and Allison Olds, Marcy Byron, Anita Jolliffe and Steve Fuller.

We would also like to thank and recognize the local business and organizations that provided donations and assistance, Dunkin Donuts of Belfast, Mark and Allen Weaver Bakery in Belfast, State Sand & Gravel in Belfast, Bill Warman of Maine Garden, American Legion of Brooks and its members, Channel 5 in Bangor, Provost Monuments of Benton, Searsport Flag, Richard Desmarais and also the Unity Foundation.

Thanks to all of you from Jackson and the surrounding areas that helped support and donated to The Veteran’s Memorial Fund.

A very special thanks goes out to our oldest Veteran who participated in the dedication, Clifton Grant.

The stones and flag poles have been set and we will be having a flag-raising ceremony Nov, 11, Veterans Day. Please come, one and all, and show your support to our veterans.

Thank you all for your calls and amazing support. We would like to share with you some of the comments, descriptions and responses we have received. “We really appreciate a memorial as beautiful as this to honor or veterans.” “It is beautiful.” “A very elegant representation.” “Absolutely gorgeous.” “Very attractive.” “Touched my heart.” “Thank you.”

Again, we thank all of you, and if we happened not to mention someone who has helped, please accept our apology.

Jackson Veterans’ Memorial Committee