A local theater troupe that moved into the Bangor Mall a few months before the pandemic struck has expanded its footprint at the struggling mall, adding a workshop space from which it plans to launch a new educational program.
Some Theatre Company plans to use the new space, the former home of the Lane Bryant clothing store, as a classroom, rehearsal area and all-around creative workshop for students and actors alike. The company has dubbed its new educational program the Some Imaginarium.
The subject for its first series of educational workshops? Puppets.
“I’ve been working with puppets for a long, long time, and I just love it,” said Becky Adams, who will run Some Imaginarium’s initial slate of classes. “It’s something that people of all ages can enjoy, and that families can do together. And I think puppets just make people happy.”
Adams is a longtime actor and theater artist who last year stepped into the newly created role of Some Theatre education director. Though the pandemic spurred the group to finally launch its education program, offering classes for all ages was something it had long wanted to do.
Just last month, the group took over the location adjacent to its current theater space at the Bangor Mall. The semi-professional Some Theatre became the second local theater company to open in the mall in late 2019, after Ten Bucks Theatre Company opened its space there earlier that year.
“It allows us to expand on the whole community aspect of what we do,” Adams said. “We can start virtually, but once we are able to do things in person we’ll be ready to host that.”
The puppet program will feature three virtual workshop series in March and April, including a puppet construction workshop for beginners, a puppet construction workshop for those with some experience in sewing and crafting, and an eight-session puppet performance workshop in April, all led by Adams. Those classes will be followed by a course in May on storytelling, and an Acting 101 course for older teens and adults.
Adams also plans to expand on Some Theatre’s new group, Adventuring Party, a roleplaying game group formed last summer, to host more Dungeons & Dragons and other roleplaying campaigns, mini-figurine painting workshops and other gaming-related activities, all at its new Imaginarium space.
“I think D&D has really grown in popularity during the pandemic, because it truly is an escape from real life,” Adams said. “RPGs in general have become much more mainstream in general in more recent years.”
And all of that is in addition to Some’s regular slate of 2021 theatrical productions, which starts next month with a production of “She Kills Monsters,” a play by Qui Nguyen about a woman who comes to grips with the death of her sister by playing her sister’s Dungeons & Dragons campaign. That play opens on Feb. 18 and runs for four days, with two shows each day with 26-person, masked and socially distant audiences.
Other plays set for its new season include one-woman show “Shirley Valentine,” set for March; the two-person adult contemporary drama “Venus in Furs,” set for April; a reader’s theatre version of the play “The Door” in May; and Harvey Fierstein’s play “Casa Valentina” in June. Until pandemic gathering restrictions are lifted, all plays will be performed for those small, 26-person audiences.
“We take COVID guidelines very seriously, so everyone is wearing masks and staying distant from one another,” Adams said. “Even our actors wear clear masks.”
Adams said that like all performers, she and her colleagues at Some Theatre are eager to get back to larger audiences and more normalcy. When that happens, she said, she hopes to see more growth not just for Some Theatre, but also for the struggling Bangor Mall.
“In some ways, it’s sad to see what has happened with the mall, with so many stores moving out,” she said. “But this is truly an amazing opportunity for local people to come in and transform this place. I think once COVID lifts, you’re going to see a lot more of that.”