The streets, stores and even a few restaurants in downtown Putnam will turn into stages on July 11 when the city hosts its first ever "First Friday" on the second Friday of the month. The date of the monthly street festival was pushed back a week to make room for July Fourth celebrations.
The theme is "Theater" and organizers intend to celebrate in dramatic, comedic, adventurous and artistic fashion. The Putnam Puppet Collaborative will stage portions of "Peter Pan," "Punch and Judy," and "Romeo and Juliet," with handmade puppets. A huge paper mâché alligator may make walking Main Street and environs more adventuresome than usual.
Art Attacks are planned in the form of Munchkins from 'The Wizard of Oz,' singing songs from the Bradley Theater's upcoming production "Wizard of Oz." Bradley Theater business manager Pat Green said costumes from the theater's wardrobe will be getting plenty of use that night. Expect anything, she said. "Once you're dressed up like a little green leprechaun, you never know what will happen."
Actors and actresses recreating Shakespearian scenes will stroll the streets, launching into micro-performances or soliloquy's. It's only fitting, since it was Shakespeare who said: "all the world is a stage..." In keeping with that sentiment, everyone is invited to come dressed as a favorite character of stage, screen or novel.
David Hopcroft will speak about acting at 8 p.m. at the Complex for Performing Arts in its new location on Main Street. A professor of communications and theater at Quinebaug Valley Community College for 31 years, Hopcroft has acted in and directed live theater productions since the mid-1980's. He performed the role of Richard Nixon in the recent Bradley Theater production of "Frost/Nixon."
For Hopcroft, theater is the most comprehensive of the arts. "It addresses all the senses," he said. Vision, sound, movement, placement, tension, texture and interaction all happen on several levels, he said. The questions the arts ask are the same questions philosophy and religion ask: what does it mean to be human?
Hopcroft intends to use his talk as a springboard for spreading the gospel of drama. Part of his mission is to help audiences become more knowledgeable. "People don't know how to talk about how a performance affected them," he said. They understand musicals and comedies, but their experiences of dramas are harder to verbalize.
When he played Nixon, makeup deepened the lines around his eyes and shadowed his jowls to show the stress Nixon had been under. He'd resigned the presidency in 1974 and sat for the series of interviews in 1977. Both men were pinning their hopes for personal and professional resurgences on the interviews..
"Drama is more than just details and history," he said. "All drama is about being human." It means showing the complexity of a character, going beyond a caricature of a character. Hopcroft is eager to build an audience eager for that.