We’re heading out on a humanities roadshow this spring and are eager to reconnect with you! This special series will illustrate a few of the ways we share stories – through dance, oral traditions, film, music, and travelogue. Please join us for one or all five events, as we explore the diversity of storytelling in the Granite State.
The Shire – An Exploration of New Hampshire Through Contemporary Dance
Performed by NSquared Dance and presented by New Hampshire Dance Collaborative
Friday, April 21, 7:00-8:30 pm
Lebanon Opera House, 51 North Park Street, Lebanon ($30/ticket)
Weaving together the natural beauty, history, and culture of New Hampshire's seven regions, The Shire, performed by NSquared Dance, explores the Granite State through movement and contemporary dance. A deep appreciation for New Hampshire is reflected in the costume design, compositional elements, and the dancers, all of whom are native to the state. With reverence for the state’s past, the production illuminates the changes in New Hampshire through dance “snapshots” of our evolving regions. New Hampshire Humanities is honored to help bring The Shire, originally sponsored by the NH Charitable Foundation and NH Dance Collaborative, to new areas in the Granite State.
About NSquared Dance: Founded in 2014 in New York City by artistic directors Nick Neagle and Zackery Betty, NSquared Dance seeks to positively impact lives through dance by providing high-quality performances to the public, and enlightening communities about the importance of performing arts education. The troupe has created several dozen dance works and toured throughout the U.S. and abroad, as well as collaborating with many partners, including The Palace Theatre and Currier Museum of Art. Artistic director Zackery Betty is a fellow with the New Hampshire Dance Collaborative Accelerator program. NSquared Dance looks forward to sharing this contemporary dance experience with the Upper Valley, giving residents new ways of visualizing dance in the community.
Wisdom Keeping: Abenaki Stories and Storytelling Traditions
Presented by Anne Jennison
Wednesday, May 3, 6:00-7:00 pm
Strawbery Banke Visitors Center, 14 Hancock Street, Portsmouth (FREE)
Traditional Abenaki stories have always been for all ages and communities. Anne Jennison, a traditional Northeast Woodlands Native American storyteller of European and Abenaki heritage, will share some traditional Abenaki stories, which tell of the world's creation, the creation of the aki (land), nebi (water), first awaasak (animal people), and the first alnobak (human beings), to teach us how to live in balance with one another. She will also share how these stories have always, and continue to be, passed down from one generation to the next, as well as the role of both storytelling and storyteller within the context of Abenaki culture.
About the presenter: Anne Jennison is a New Hampshire-based Native American storyteller, historian, educator, and craftsperson. With master’s degrees in storytelling and history, Anne brings a wealth of knowledge - enhanced by more than 30 years as a performing storyteller - to her retelling of timeless Native American lessons, especially the stories of the Northeast. Since retiring from classroom teaching, Anne continues to be an active public educator, teaching Abenaki history and culture at schools, colleges, powwows, libraries and cultural organizations. Anne is also a co-producer of the annual Dawnland StoryFest, New England’s only Native American storytelling festival.
Storytelling on Film: A Screening of Lost Boundaries
Presented by Larry Benaquist
Wed., May 10, 5:30-8:00 pm
Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main Street, Concord (FREE)
Based on the true story of Dr. Albert Johnston, a Black man and his family who passed as white in early-20th-century Keene - until they didn't - Lost Boundaries illustrates New Hampshire's complicated history of racial passing, which may have gone unheard if not for Louis de Rochemont, two-time Academy Award-winning producer and New Hampshire resident. Learn the story of how this 1949 groundbreaking film, winner of a Cannes Film Festival Award and the first mainstream Hollywood film to deal with the issue of racial passing, came to be made and how this African American family dealt with the humiliation of discrimination and segregation.
About the presenter: Lawrence Benaquist, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus, Keene State College (KSC) and founder of the film studies program at the college, a filmmaker, and a film historian. In 1989 he orchestrated the 40th Lost Boundaries reunion at KSC, which drew over 1,500 people. In attendance were members of the Johnston and de Rochemont families, the production team, and surviving actors from the film, including Mel Ferrer and Carleton Carpenter. National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and other news media provided in-person coverage, and in 1990, NHPBS produced a documentary on the event called Home to Keene: The Lost Boundaries Reunion.
A Sampler of New Hampshire Stories in Song
Presented by Tom Curren
Thursday, May 18, 6:00-7:00 pm
The Showroom, 20 Commercial Street, Keene (FREE)
Follow Tom Curren’s musical journey through New Hampshire's past as he shares songs that explore the land, people, traditions, and unique cultures that have have shaped our state. From the seacoast and its earliest settlement by Europeans in the 1600s, these stories follow the course of history inland, from the pioneer era through the Revolution, to the abolitionist and Grange movements of the 19th century, and finally, to the folk music revival of the 1960s. Audiences will delight in the rich musical traditions that we share here in the Granite State.
About the presenter: Tom Curren began singing in the mid-1960s, appearing at Boston coffeehouses and venues across New Hampshire. With the singing group The Good Old Plough, Tom has performed at Canterbury Shaker Village, the Shelburne Museum, at New England historical societies and libraries, for NH Public Radio, on NH Public Television's NH Crossroads, and Good Morning America. He has operated a dairy farm, served as a town selectman and moderator, and worked as a conservationist for the Pew Charitable Trusts. Tom has written several town histories and two books on New England music: "I Believe I’ll Go Back Home" and "All Join Hands: Dudley Laufman and the New England Country Dance Tradition."
Stories of Place: A Year in the Life of Mount Washington
Presented by Dan Szczesny
Wednesday, May 24, 6:00-7:00 pm
Littleton Opera House, 2 Union Street, Littleton (FREE)
From the vaulted heights of New England’s highest peak, Dan spent a year exploring the very heart of the White Mountains. But Mount Washington - home of the world’s worst weather - is more than just a rock pile; it’s the cultural and natural soul of climbers and tourists from around the world. From car races to bird watching, from bikes to motorcycles, a "railroad to the stars" to a centuries-old observatory, Mount Washington speaks to the adventurer in all of us. In The White Mountain, Dan turned his veteran journalist’s eye toward participating in and exploring the culture, characters, and color of this remarkable place. Through travel writing, normally used to tell an outsider’s story in a new land, we can reacquaint ourselves with home.
About the presenter: Dan Szczesny is a long-time journalist, speaker, and author of several travel memoirs, fiction, and poetry, and an essay collection on fatherhood. His book, The Nepal Chronicles, about a month-long trek to Everest Base Camp and marriage in Kathmandu, won the 2016 New Hampshire state library award for Outstanding Work of Nonfiction. His book, The White Mountain: Rediscovering Mount Washington’s Hidden Culture, is a year’s exploration of the Northeast’s tallest peak. Written with his then six-year-old daughter, NH Rocks That Rock: An Adventure Guide to Twenty-Five Famous Boulders of the Granite State, is a field guide that encourages families to visit off-the-beaten-path places around the state. He’s a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 4,000-footer club and has written extensively about the outdoors and hiking.