By Don McLean
“Broad Brook Anthology,” a Play for Voices by Verandah Porche, will be given two performances on Thanksgiving weekend. The play was originally performed as part of the Guilford 250th celebration in 2011. This is the first revival, which celebrates Guilford and its history through the voices of Town elders. The play is this fall’s offering of Guilford Center Stage, which usually inhabits the Broad Brook Community Center, but moves up the road for this occasion, to the Meeting House at 4042 Guilford Center Road, where the play premiered in 2011. It is produced in collaboration with Monteverdi Artists Collaborative of Guilford.
The play, with projected photographs by Jeff Woodward and music by Don McLean, will
be presented on Saturday, November 24, at 6:30 pm, and Sunday the 25th at 4 pm. General Admission is $10.
Over several years, Guilford poet Verandah Porche met with elders to transcribe their
recollections of life in town going back as far as the 1920s. As many of these conversations took place in that most important room of a Guilford home, the published books of these narratives were titled Kitchen Talks. The narratives, read by six of the area’s finest actors, include memories of one-room schools, the hurricane of 1938, rural electrification, courtship and hardship, and youthful mischief.
Porche has distilled passages from these narratives and woven them together with her poems into a “play for voices,” named for a tributary that passes many of the homesteads in the play, as well as the former Broad Brook Grange building. Most of these narrators courted at the dances there. The brook also flows near the performance venue. One of the recollections, by Shirley C. Squires, is of her wedding ceremony held in this very church in 1950. This accessible venue, Guilford Center Meeting House, was built in 1837 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Director of the reading is Michael Fox Kennedy of West Brattleboro. He directed the premiere in 2011. Verandah Porche will serve as narrator.
Actor/readers include Christopher Coutant, Gay Maxwell, Jim Maxwell, and Robin Wolf, all of Brattleboro. Arthur Pettee of Guilford rounds out the local cast.
Historic photographs and portraits of each elder, taken for this project by Jeff Woodward of Guilford, will be projected onto the wall of the room, as the actors read.
Incidental music, written for the play by Don McLean of Guilford, will be performed by a trio of area musicians: Amara Cunningham, flute, Mary Seaver, clarinet, and Peggy Spencer, violin and viola.
Also available at the event are Raffle Tickets, benefitting Guilford Center Stage. Tickets are $10 each, or 5 for $40, and the prize is a $250 gift certificate to TJ Buckley’s Restaurant in Brattleboro. The winner will be drawn at the Sunday performance.
Parking near the Meeting House is scarce, and it is suggested that those attending park at the Community Center nearby; as needed, drivers may drop off passengers at the Meeting House and then park at the former Grange building. Patrons may wish to bring a seat cushion.
All seating is General Admission. Tickets, at $10, may be purchased at the door, using cash or a check made payable to Broad Brook Grange. To buy tickets with a credit card, you may purchase them in advance at Brown Paper Tickets online by going to https://www.brownpapertickets.com/ref/2977804/event/3344791, or call toll-free at 1-800-838-3006.