Every young’un growing up in Aroostook County learns the story of Jim Cullen.  The events of 1873 happened in their neck of the woods.  It’s part of their history.  It’s legend.  And it’s coming “downstate” to the Midcoast on July 19th, when Heartwood Theater premieres “The Legend of Jim Cullen.”
Forty some years ago, on a rainy day in Mapleton, Maine, when Director Griff Braley was 6 years old and left behind by older brothers to spend the afternoon with his grandmother, he first heard this scary tale.  Well, legends grow and so do little boys. Written by Braley, “The Legend of Jim Cullen” is a culmination of history, music, storytelling, movement and artistry.  And it is rich with collaborators, musicians and actors.
Karen Montanaro, mime/ballerina/movement coach and long time friend and associate of Heartwood, spent a week in the Poe Theater with the cast and musicians, developing movement scenes with Braley.  From the whimsical movements of a blackbird on pointe (Tyla Collier) to barn building and log rolling scenes, Karen’s experience and years of teaching her special blend of dance and mime lead the cast deeper into their imagination, as they corporately devised this brand new piece.  The result will be more of what Heartwood audiences expect: engaging, creative and dramatic theater.
The process of devising original work, particularly a piece so densely filled with music and movement, is very unique.  It’s not like showing up on day one of rehearsal with lines and music learned, knowing the characters, exactly what the play should look like, where the music comes in and how it should sound. 
The spirit of ensemble and collaboration is essential, as actors and musicians willingly take risks, experimenting, evaluating, refining and even occasionally discarding.  “We go in with an idea … but only through doing, can we know.  This process requires openness on everyone’s part,” notes Braley.  “The work is the thing that drives us, unites us and sends us home with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.” 
With the support of individual donors and foundations, Heartwood continues to create unique theater.  (You won’t see this one anywhere else in Maine, this summer!)  You can play a role in this production, by becoming an online collaborator through Heartwood's Rockethub fundraising portal.   Google “Rockethub” and search “Heartwood.”  Visit this site for frequent photo updates, too.
“The Legend of Jim Cullen” is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Community Foundation, along with sponsorships from Bath Savings Institution, First Advisors, and the Newcastle Publick House.

Performances will appear in the Parker B. Poe Theater at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, on July 19 & 20, 26 & 27, Aug 1-3 at 7:30pm.  One matinee performance will take place on Sunday, July 28th at 3pm.  Tickets are $20 adults / $12 students.  Reservations strongly recommended at boxoffice@heartwoodtheater.org OR 207.563.1373.

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