I had the good fortune to attend “Papermaker” recently, presented by the Oxford Hills Performing Arts Association, skillfully directed by Julie Middleton. It reminded me of the immense power of community theater to both reflect and shape our perceptions of who we are as individuals and communities.
The play depicts a Maine town torn apart by a workers’ strike and its effect on three separate families. I suspect that it is even more relevant today than when Monica Wood wrote it in 2015. We are even more divided by class, employment and politics, and even more driven by our passions and emotions — the dark and the light.
The talented cast — Michael Newsom, Daniel Rennie, Sandra Fickett, Jenn Carter, Laurie Riihimaki and August Thornton — bring Wood’s characters to life but also reflect our own neighbors: nurses, parents, builders, business owners and students, who daily struggle with the broad strokes of a larger society so often out of their control. Claire Sessions’ beautiful stagecraft and Lee Huston’s ark (yes, an ark!) perfectly illuminate their plights. Like all great art, the drama is both microcosm and macrocosm; both intimate and archetypal.
“Papermaker” is a play for this time and place. I was moved and inspired and reminded of the power of live, local performance. Ernie builds more than a boat; Wood builds more than a play; the cast and crew help us build a deeper understanding of ourselves.
Lisa Moore, Harrison