Endangered Stories?

During a recent trip to Chicago, to attend the 19th annual conference of the City and Regional Magazine Association, I had a chance to ride an elevator to the top floor of the John Hancock Center, I enjoyed a perfect filet at a classic Chicago steak house and had a cheeseburger at Billy Goat Tavern, made famous by John Belushi in the old Saturday Night Live skit. You know: “Cheezborger, cheezborger, cheezborger. No fries chips. No Pepsi coke.” You don’t know? Ask your parents. Anyway, it was a great trip but without many surprises (except how clean everything was) until I went to see a play at the Lookingglass Theater housed in the Chicago Waterworks building. The featured production was a quirky musical titled “The Shaggs Philosophy of the World.” Now if you don’t know about the Shaggs, ask anyone in Fremont, New Hampshire who didn’t just move up from Massachusetts in the last 10 years. They’ll probably have at least an impression of this odd band of three sisters who played off-key in weekly concerts at the Fremont town hall. The Shaggs recorded a 1969 album that is still in print (available from Amazon), was called “better than the Beatles” by Frank Zappa, and is an ongoing topic of discussion by audiophiles and collectors of “outsider” rock. The Shaggs’ tale is too strange and wonderful to go into here, but maybe that’s my point. Why did I have to go to Chicago to see this local story immortalized on stage? With all the concern for protecting the state’s precious resources, forests and lakes, perhaps we should protect the natural resource of our state’s native stories. After all, when one local writer named Ernest Thompson decided to try his hand at telling a great New Hampshire story, the result was a little stage phenomena known as “On Golden Pond” which became an Academy Award winning movie and a eternal boost to tourism and preservation in the Lakes Region community where it was filmed. (By the way, the Shaggs’ sad, weird tale has been optioned by Tom Cruise to be turned into a Hollywood film.) According to Thompson, there is no lack of New Hampshire stories to tell. He even directs a writers group most summers, to draw a few stories out into the open and preserve them on stage. And there are lots of ambitious little theatres around the state looking for original works. Manchester’s Yellow Taxi Productions is one of the boldest, and new spots like the Winnipesaukee Playhouse are popping up as venues for local imagination to blend with local color. Most natural resources are best protected by conscientious use, and I think this analogy holds with cultural resources, too. To help protect and preserve our stories, plunk down some cash to go and enjoy local theatre. It’s a fine way to discover your state this summer, since there are great theatre companies in every region. Visit www.nhtheatre.com for a handy list. And just keep your eyes and ears open. Sometimes the best stories are right outside your door. Edit Module
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. 2015 It List
    Our 2015 It List is the who’s who of New Hampshire. Meet 14 influential Granite Staters who...
  2. Miracle on Beech Street
    At the Manchester Police Athletic League, officers change the lives of local youth for the better.
  3. 28 Ways to Have Fun This Winter
    This year, why not resolve to make the best of the snow and ice? Here are 28 things to do...
  4. Challenge Yourself with Snowshoe Racing
    Put on your snowshoes and run! If you enjoy regular races, you just might like the added...
  5. Understanding and Alleviating Dry Eye
    The syndrome puts comfort and eye health at risk.
  6. Holiday Shopping in Concord
    Concord’s Main Street is back and beautiful. The recent downtown renovation has made for a...
  7. Alexander Heffner Host of “The Open Mind”
    "The Open Mind,” which turns 60 this year, got a new lease on life when Alexander Heffner,...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags