James Noel Hoban has been in lots of different plays with lots of different actors around Maine during the past 15 years or so.

But for the next few weeks, he’ll be sharing stage time with a pretty unusual co-star — a painting.

“The painting is really the fourth character in the play,” said Hoban. “It’s modern art being a disruptive force, in a very witty manner.”

Hoban will play Marc — who, by the way, is not a big fan of the painting — in the Freeport Factory Stage production of the Tony Award-winning play “ART.”

The production opens tonight at Freeport Factory Stage’s venue on Depot Street, with performances through Oct. 2. Most shows will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Besides Hoban, the play features fellow Maine actors Chris Newcomb and Joseph McGrann.

The play is about three friends basically talking about a painting that one of them bought. The audience sees a white or blank image, but there’s debate as to what else is there — if anything.

“The audience sees a white painting, but there’s so much in the play about what else can be perceived,” said Hoban.

“Even when the painting is not on stage, it’s an important part of the play,” said Julie George-Carlson, director of the production.

Hoban says that as an actor, the play appeals to him for various reasons, including “sparkling” dialogue and an in-depth look at what goes into or defines a friendship.

“It deals with really a central issue in everyone’s life: What constitutes a friendship, what bonds of commonality are the basis of it and what happens if certain assumptions change,” he said.

Freeport Factory Stage opened in May with the goal of presenting professional theater in downtown Freeport, which is best-known as a retail shopping destination anchored by L.L. Bean. “ART” will be the first play produced at the new venue since its opening; previous performances have been rentals.

George-Carlson, one of the theater group’s organizers, said the name was picked because Freeport’s history includes much manufacturing, plus it’s now home to lots of factory outlets. But the theater itself is not in an old factory. The venue seats about 90 people.

Hoban says he’s happy that Freeport and the surrounding area now have professional theater. He thinks it’s good for local actors like himself, and good for people who live in the area.

“There are a whole lot of people who live between Portland and Brunswick, and now they have (professional theater) close by,” said Hoban. “And for Portland-based performers, it’s nice to have access to new venues and new audiences.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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