March 17, 2013

Doing Farmington proud

The Emery, the performance and gallery space on the UMF campus, has been a game changer for western Maine.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Emery Center director Jayne Decker in the visual arts gallery known as the Flex Space, which is currently showing works by Ellen Roberts and Karen Adrienne.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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The Performance Space.

Additional Photos Below

TO LEARN MORE

emeryarts.umf.maine.edu

Emery will repeat the show this spring, Decker said.

SUITABLE FOR 'GATSBY'

Among the events that garnered the most attention in 2012 was a summer presentation of "Gatsby!", a lawn-and-jazz party that also featured an introductory scene from Decker's stage adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."

Emery staged the event in the Performance Space (the formal name of the black-box, 160-seat performance hall), and allowed it to spill out on to the back lawn for dancing, food and drink. The theater was built with vertical foldaway doors, giving it adaptability as an indoor-outdoor venue.

The Performance Space has hosted a myriad of musical and performance events, and serves as a complementary space to the Alumni Theater, which is a more traditional stage setting.

The Alumni remains active -- Decker is directing "Keely and Du" there this weekend. The new space offers more adaptability, flexibility and modern sound and lights, which is something that assistant tech director Kelly Ellerbrook especially appreciates.

"I'm enjoying that everything's brand new and everything works," she said, fiddling with the sound board during a recent visit.

Alison Hagerstrom, executive director of the Greater Franklin Development Corp., said Emery has become a talking point in town. She attended a social gathering recently, and someone asked, "Did you see the 'Spiral' display?"

That's not something that likely would have come up in conversation previously, she said. But the Emery has succeeded in bringing more people from the community into the art center.

"The university has always been close with the community," she said. "But the Emery rounds out the whole experience here. This strengthens the cultural opportunities for people here in Farmington and across the county."

To illustrate that point, Decker told a story about an elderly gentleman from Avon who called several weeks ago when he learned that musician Sumner McKane was presenting his live performance piece "In the Blood," which documents the story of Maine lumbermen in song, video, photography and oral history.

The man was a retired logger, and he wanted to see the show. He needed to know how to get tickets and how to get to campus.

Though he has lived regionally his entire life, he had never been to UMF.

"How do I find my way to campus?" he asked.

Decker simply smiled as she related the story. Turns out, the original date for "In the Blood" was postponed because of a snowstorm. Decker called the man back and told him it had been rescheduled for early March.

She arranged her schedule so she could be there when he arrived, to make sure he got his tickets and that his experience was a good one.

"To me," she said, "that's what this building is all about."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes

 

 


 

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Additional Photos

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UMF’s oldest building, Merrill Hall, stands next to the Emery.

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UMF student Richard Russell, an actor in an upcoming play, attaches colored gels to stage lights with assistance from stage crew member Leigh Welch (on ladder) and theater designer Dan Spilecki.

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The Emery’s exterior shell is made mostly from natural wood siding that will turn with the weather.



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