In a project undertaken in collaboration with Figures of Speech Theatre, The Art of Memory engages students in an in-depth, hands-on educational and creative program taking place in the one-room schoolhouses on Maine's Outer Islands (Cliff, Isle au Haut, Islesford, Frenchboro, Matinicus, and Monhegan).
Figures of Speech Theatre Director of Education Ian Bannon led a team of four artists in a year-and-a-half-long collaboration with the students of the Outer Islands Teaching and Learning Collaborative. In the spring of 2015, Bannon travelled to each island to introduce students to documentary techniques, which they then used to cull stories from other island residents, historical archives, and publications. The entire artistic team returned in the fall of 2015 to collaborate in the creation and filming of shadow puppet adaptations of their favorite stories.
The resulting 35-minute film combines a variety of shorts ranging from pirate stories to tall-tales to ill-conceived stand-offs with Abenaki Native Americans. The pieces are held together with a layered dreamscape of shadow imagery, narration from some of Portland's most sought-after voiceover artists, and a captivating original musical score by Dave Noyes of Rustic Overtones.
The FOSSE (Figures of Speech Student Ensemble), now in its sixth season, brings professional artists into direct collaboration with students to devise original performances using Figures of Speech Theatre's signature blend of puppets, masks, shadows, music, actors, dance, and more.
The project will culminate in the Spring of 2016 with screenings of short shadow puppet films created by the students based on oral histories they have gathered.