“Shall we dance now the Egyptian Bacchanals,
And celebrate our drink?” —Antony & Cleopatra Act II, Scene vii
Theater at Monmouth’s 2016 Vive la France Season celebrates the feast of language that is French theatre, our fascination with all things French, and the significant Franco-American community in Maine. This celebration extends off-stage as well to the milestone anniversaries of some of our long-standing company members.
5th Anniversary: This “Wood”en O!
In 2016 I celebrate my fifth season as Producing Artistic Director. I cannot tell you the joy it has been to work with the many talented artist who have committed time, talent, and experience to TAM; to get to know the thoughtful audience that supports our work; and to introduce classic literature to young people in every corner of our state. The traditional gift for the 5th anniversary is wood—as TAM is the Shakespearean Theater of Maine, it seems an appropriate way to honor my five years producing plays written for the Bard’s “Wooden O.”
10th Anniversary: Diamond
Two indispensable company members celebrate 10 years with TAM this summer. From set design to sound engineering and design, these two talented artists have committed a decade of summers to making TAM productions outstanding. These two, Dan Bilodeau (Set Designer), and Rew Tippin (Sound Designer) were 1/2 of the creative team for the first production I directed at TAM in 2009—The Mousetrap. Their dedication and considerable talent had a great deal to do with me applying to become Producing Artistic Director. I will forever be grateful for their continued commitment to this institution. They are truly the diamonds of TAM—strong, durable, and so sharp they can cut through anything.
15th Anniversary: Crystal
The quote at the top refers obliquely to the queen of our acting company, Janis Stevens. This title is apt, partially because she played the role opposite Mark Cartier in the 2004 production directed by Davis Robinson but mostly because of the many regal, queenly roles she has played here for 15 seasons. Janis Stevens is a force to be reckoned with; her sharp ear for verse, pronunciation, and dialects have served the theatre well onstage and off. Her crystal-clear interpretations from behind the director’s table have resulted in electrifying productions of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies.
20th Anniversary: Platinum
When I first directed at TAM in 2009, the only company member I had ever met before was Mark S. Cartier. He had auditioned at Portland Stage Company and so I felt comforted by the fact that I would be coming into an unfamiliar situation but there would be at least one friendly face. Mark was indeed a pleasure to work with on The Mousetrap and I will never forget the look on his face when I sat down behind the director’s table, told them where I thought they should enter and said, “Okay, let’s see what happens next.” Before I officially began as producing artistic director in 2011, I spent some time getting to know the company members, the way things work at TAM, and meeting the community.
I met with the veteran acting company to get input on planning the upcoming season. I asked Mark what play he had always been dying to do and what part was on his bucket list. He thought only for a moment and said, “Richard III. I think you should do Richard III so Dustin Tucker can play Richard.”
That selflessness and sense of humility is what makes Mark Cartier a truly outstanding company member. Shortly after that exchange, I saw Mark’s work in two of that summer’s offerings: Room Service, where he played the over-the-top Russian Bell Boy Sasha Smirnoff and King Lear. It was his work in Lear that helped me to understand the depth of his range and why he had been with the company for so long. His Gloucester was stunning; his ability to channel his relationship with his own sons and the pathos he brought to the role was like nothing I had seen him play before. It was then that I decided to program Our Town and to ask Mark to play the Stage Manager. He was, of course, the perfect “everyman” guide to Grover’s Corners, a production of which I was immensely proud.
I feel very fortunate to have had Mark commit the past twenty summers to this theatre. We owe his family an enormous debt of gratitude for loaning us his talent, good-nature, and love of the game. I hope they have enjoyed seeing him onstage as much as our audience have appreciated the subtlety and grandeur of his work. To twenty platinum years of service, we dedicate this 47th season to Mark S. Cartier.