Sturgis Arts Cafe (Spring 2012)

The First Sturgis Arts Cafe took place February 7, 2012 in the Sturgis East Theater Room and was a huge hit.  The Arts Cafe was the  collaborative  brainchild of Alicia Fenney Watts, Anna Botsford and Kate Dunigan AtLee. I asked where they found the inspiration for this project.

Alicia Fenney Watts:  “As for the Arts Cafe inspiration, I think I came up with the idea in the fall when thinking about an opportunity for Poetry Out Loud to be more than a competition and Anna Botsford came up with the idea when she expressed interest in her students having a forum for expression (since only the big productions get notice). I forget at what point we discovered we had a goal in common. Kate Dunigan AtLee came up with the name Arts Cafe, and viola!”

Kate Dunigan AtLee:  “I was inspired by an email that Alicia sent out when she and Anna first came up with the idea.  What she proposed was almost identical to the Arts Cafes I’d put on at my library when we worked in Guatemala.  I was so thrilled to have found kindred spirits at Sturgis!  I hope this is the beginning of a new Sturgis tradition.”

An Interview with Justin Pannell by Alicia Pollard ~

Why did you choose to participate in Poetry out Loud and, later, the Arts Café?

Poetry Out Loud was offered in class as an option for an assignment, and I really enjoyed the sound of this one poem by Robert Frost, which is why I ended up presenting that one.

What piece did you perform?

Robert Frost’s “The Mending Wall.” This particular poem reminded me a lot of my grandfather and some other old “fellers” in town… I grew up in New England. I was born in Carlisle, near the Lexington and Concord area where my dad had grown up and my mom had lived; it was kind of a deep culture, so the histories were taught to me since I was very little. We would go up there for historical dates and whatnot, they have reenactments of the first battles of the Revolution so I was able to see it and learn it, so that early new England culture really connected to me… The history of Massachusetts and what New England is has really become a part of my life…I’ve learned what life [was] like back then through these histories, so being able to present a poem that was so classically new England was nice.

How did you feel about the performance?

I presented that poem along with another one, and I’ve done a lot of public speaking and whatnot, I’ve run meetings and stuff, but I hadn’t done any memorization recitation since early grade school, so when I got up I choked and wasn’t able to do my first poem. I was able to get through it, but it was really, really bad. That was “The Children’s Hour” by Longfellow; I did that one first and it didn’t end up well at all. Then I did Robert Frost’s and I did really well on that one, I knew that one by heart so I was able to present it, but doing stuff from … memory makes me so much more nervous than just doing a speech.

Would you want to do this activity again?

I guess I did go through and do it [again] at the Arts Café, it is something I would do again, being a senior I will not coming back this year and doing it, but overall the experience was enjoyable even with a little rough spot in the middle.

What did you think about how Poetry Out Loud went in general?

It went really well….we had more people showing up than any previous year. I think it should have been [offered] in all the classes, it was only SL English and only Ms. Watts’ class for sophomores. I think having it as an optional assignment was a great way of getting people to get interested. If you really don’t want to do it you don’t have to, [but]it gets anyone who was on the fence of doing [to] do it. I think doing that was what got a lot of people to do it this year.

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