The Penobscot Theatre Company will take its season-opening show, “Woody Guthrie’s American Song” on the road this month, in a series of special performances in keeping with the spirit of Guthrie, the wildly influential troubadour and folksinger.
The show, a pastiche of Guthrie songs directed by Chris “Red” Blisset and music director Jeremy Sevelovitz, is making its traditional three-week run at the Bangor Opera House this month. It started Thursday and runs through Sunday, Sept. 29.
But the cast and crew will also play two shows in two unique venues: on Friday, Sept. 20, at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity and on Friday, Sept. 27, at Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston for the incarcerated population there.
It’s not the first time Penobscot Theatre Company has performed a show for the inmates at the Charleston prison — the cast of “Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical,” also featuring Sevelovitz, performed there in 2015.
Like the Cash show, the Guthrie show creates a narrative around the beloved songbook of an American icon, with five characters telling the story of the powerless, the downtrodden and the resilient people of America, through songs like “Bound for Glory,” “This Land is Your Land,” and “Hard Travelin’.”
“It’s a poetic and powerful social justice history of the country, which obviously is very apropos for today,” said Bari Newport, the theater company’s artistic director.
“Woody Guthrie sang about the working class and about hard times, so I think it will resonate with an incarcerated audience,” Executive Director Kathryn Ravenscraft said. “Part of our mission is to eliminate the barriers that keep people from experiencing theater, so performing in these unusual venues is just the kind of thing we want to keep doing in the future.”