Barn Art’s Vintage Classroom recreates an 1890’s schoolhouse as an interactive performance event for local third graders. PHOTO COURTESY OF BARN ARTS

Barn Arts wraps up spring season, looks forward to summer

Barn Arts Alpine class performs in an original theater production they developed called “The Odyssey.”

TREMONT — Barn Arts concluded its spring season earlier this month after several months of collaborations with local students and educators. The teaching artist season was the most active in the organization’s history. 

Barn Arts is a nonprofit based in Tremont with a mission to bring people together. The organization was founded in 2009 and works to support students and artists throughout the year on Mount Desert Island and beyond. 

In total, the Barn Arts spring season ran for three months and included eight different teaching artist programs as the local nonprofit collaborated with over 160 students from six different schools in grades K-8. 

In March and April, Barn Arts Artistic Director Andrew Simon joined teachers from The Community School in Somesville to lead two classes of students working on original theater productions. The Intertidal class devised and developed a piece called “The Crossing” and the Alpine class created and staged a new adaptation of “The Odyssey.” The productions were designed and performed by the students with support from local artists Deirdre McGrath and Aaron Margolis. 

In May, Barn Arts partnered with the Mount Desert Island Historical Society for the annual Vintage Classroom program, which recreates an 1890’s schoolhouse as an interactive performance event for local third-grade students. Caroline Cotter and Brendan O’Keefe performed with Simon as a number of local characters from the past and Rose Iuro-Damon played the classroom teacher over the course of a week with students from Tremont, Pemetic, Conners Emerson, Mount Desert Elementary School and Trenton. 

Throughout May, Barn Arts initiated a new program at the Pemetic School in collaboration with art teacher Emily Michaud that took the form of an after-school film club. Students researched the history of the Pemetic mascot, interviewed local community members and learned firsthand from professional documentary filmmaker David Camlin, who provided insight and inspiration for the four-week program. 

At the end of the month, Simon visited Mount Desert Elementary School to teach theater-making techniques to students in kindergarten through fourth grade and spent two weeks working with seventh and eighth graders at the Tremont Consolidated School on a project that combined stage combat skills with the study of the French language. The program culminated in the presentation of a scene from Aimé Césaire’s “Une Tempête,” performed in French and complete with slaps, punches and hair pulls. 

Barn Arts worked into June until the penultimate week of the school year to collaborate with third and fifth graders at Trenton Elementary School. Students at Trenton were led by New York-based artist Maki Borden on two projects that focused on adapting literature from the classroom for performances on stage. 

“It’s been an incredible year so far,” said Simon. “We’re deeply grateful to all of the students, teachers and administrators for creating these opportunities to make art together. And we’re excited to be performing for community members of all ages in July. This is a great place to make theater and a really special place to grow up.” 

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