RUMFORD – Figures of Speech Theatre of Freeport will perform “Nightingale” on Saturday, July 30, in celebration of the St. Athanasius and St. John Centennial at Mountain Valley High School’s Muskie Auditorium.

Figures of Speech Theatre uses original vocal music, live actors in flowing silk costumes and four-foot-tall intricately carved puppets to bring to life Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story, “Nightingale.” The full-stage presentation is suited to audiences from age 6 to 86.

Figures of Speech Theatre has performed throughout Japan, North America and Europe. In 1996 “Nightingale” played a successful Broadway run at the New Victory Theater and won the UNIMA citation of excellence, the highest award in North American puppet theater.

The theme of “Nightingale” is the importance of maintaining a connection with nature. The Emperor of China learns of the existence of a plain gray bird whose song is the sweetest in all the world. He summons her to court, where she moves him to tears.

Later he is given a jeweled mechanical bird, which makes him lose interest in the Nightingale and banish her from his empire. But when he is alone and gravely ill, his tiny compassionate friend returns to bargain with Death and save the Emperor.

The story is framed by narrators – adventurous medieval “traders in essences” played by Andrea Goodman, formerly a principal vocalist with the Meredith Monk Ensemble, and Carol Farrell, co-director of Figures of Speech. A quest to collect the essence of the sweetest song in the world leads them to China, where they meet the Emperor, the Emperor’s daughter, the courtiers and the nightingale.

The production features an original vocal score composed by Goodman. “Nightingale” was funded in part by the Davis Foundation, the Jim Henson Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Admission is $10 for adults and $6 for children under 12. For further information, call Doris Bourret at 364-8509.

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