Playwright, actors tour Rumford mill for research to help them give their best performance. It would be nice to see this production, given that the setting is the town in which R. worked for 20 years. He did electrical and thermographic work in this papermill. We took the mill tour mentioned in this article on first moving here, and I’ve written about it in Maine Metaphor, and described it from a character’s point of view in Within Without of The God’s Cycle. The playwright, Monica Wood, was helpful to me during graduate studies, exchanging e-mails for one of my papers — off which I played in a couple blogging entries on living local fiction. It was very kind, as we had never met one another. In the article she noted that simply touring the mill was an overwhelming experience for the actors, greatly informing their performances.
Her book, Ernie’s Ark — on which her play, Papermaker, is based — is on the shelf above me with other Maine fiction, including that of the incomparable Ruth Moore whose fiction I’d like sometime to describe here at The Green and Blue House. Ernie’s Ark is a string of nine stories, wonderfully written, very evocative of the industrial parts of both the western mountains and other areas of Maine. The character of place is in her characters and its many details including Catholicism, family, the particular quirkiness of Mainers, aspirations, and especially just plain old working.
Here’s a wonderful few lines from one of the Ark stories, “Solidarity Is Not a Floor.”
Blaine College, about forty miles and fifteen solar systems west of Abbott Falls, is a formidable stonemasoned sanctuary where sixteen hundred students study philosophy and art and rarely venture off-campus. The library, where her father drops her off, reminds Francine of a castle — it even has a turret. It occurs to her that steady exposure to a place like this might have a tendency to make some people feel royal.
You get the feeling, in a poetic way, that you know where Monica Wood is coming from. In comparison with mill monoliths—that a mill town girl would find the college library formidable! But again, with the place names as mentioned in an entry below — Monica Wood’s own Mexico Maine?
Ms. Wood does not seem at home before the camera as before a keyboard. For a look at the cast, telling us of their papermill tour, start at 3.11 in the video link immediately below. About 3 minutes of conversation on what it’s like in the mill.