Taylor Burke Contributing Writer
An eerily quiet Friday night on campus had seniors Brock Bubar and Hailey Craig dunking their heads in water during what would be their last show as the Lawn Chair Pirates. Despite the recent closure of the school due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was a crowd of over 75 people who came to get a final laugh at Bubar and Craig’s antics during the show.
Following the game, which finally ended when Bubar guessed that Craig was acting like a Roomba vacuum cleaner, the two held each other in a heartfelt embrace.
This act of friendship is telling of just how intimately close the group is, making the sudden conclusion of Bubar and Craig’s time with the pirates so difficult. “We’re all a big family,” Craig said. “The part I’m going to miss the most is just having a space three times a week where I can go in and make jokes and hang out with my friends.”
Bubar also felt a sense of comradery during his time in the group. “There isn’t a pirate in the group that isn’t like a broski,” Bubar said sincerely. “Just being in this improvisational headspace and being with a group of people who have your back can really push you up from whatever dark depths you happen to be in that day.”
Two days before the show Bubar and Craig realized that it would be their last. “Usually we get a senior video, but we don’t get that this year,” Craig said.
Instead, the two gave a speech in which they addressed the crowd, expressing their heartache, and saying goodbye. “We’ve cried about it a lot,” Craig said during the speech. Around the auditorium, the faces in the audience were somber, but after the speech finished, the whole crowd cheered for the two pirates.
Craig was thankful that they were able to hold a final show, even though UMF would be closing. “We’re really happy that we still get to hold the show tonight because it’s the last day on campus for a lot of people,” she said. She hoped to provide that last laugh to the audience before they had to leave.
The name of the show, “Friday the 13th,” was eerily relevant in such a scary and confusing time for those on campus, especially seniors. The quick turn of events left Bubar and Craig uncertain about what lay ahead, and sad about everything they weren’t prepared to leave behind so suddenly. “I was not ready to just lose everybody so quickly,” Bubar said. “And also I’m not ready to just jump into the professional workforce.”
Craig nodded in agreement with Bubar as she contemplated her own future, which was quickly becoming a reality. “I don’t really have time to be scared anymore,” she said frankly.
As the two senior pirates “died,” six new pirates were “born” to make the show not only about goodbyes, but about hellos as well. In an opening video shown prior to the final performance, the new members were featured telling scary stories around a fire which included existing members of the LCP.
Junior Sophie Hendrix is one of the six new members of the group. Hendrix had already been part of theater at UMF, but wanted to expand and try something new. She felt LCP was that opportunity. She’s had to get used to being flexible, because improv is very different from line memorization. This show was her first and last of the semester. “Being my first show I’m like super excited,” she said with a smile. But Hendrix was also upset that it was her last show, especially because the seniors were leaving. “It’s going to be sad without Hailey and Brock,” she said. “I’ll miss their energy.”
Sophomore and theater major Paul Riddell is another new member of the group. He has been involved with improv since fourth grade, and was really eager to be a part of the LCP. “It’s really exciting to see all of the potential that the group has,” Riddell said. “But it’s really sad to see two great pirates go and two close friends of mine as well.”
Riddell hasn’t been with the pirates for very long, but his bond with the two seniors makes it hard for him to see them leave. “I’m definitely going to miss what they bring to the table and just them as people,” he said. “I’m really close with both of them.”
Junior Katie Shupp was in the audience during the show, and was excited about the abundance of new members entering the group. “It’s going to be a full house,” she said. Shupp has been to many shows and watched Bubar and Craig grow and develop as entertainers during her time at UMF. “We’ve been with them for three years now so it was a nice ending,” Shupp said.
Bubar was in his seventh semester with LCP and Craig was in her eighth, which made them a big part of the established foundation of personalities that audiences came to enjoy.
As the show came to a close, audience members filed out of the auditorium. The few that stayed congratulated the new members and said their goodbyes and thanks to the seniors. Amongst the loud chatter Craig, covered in a blanket due to her soaking wet clothes, received a bouquet of flowers with a look of surprise and happiness written on her face. Bubar, also drenched in water, hugged fellow pirate Jeremy Tingdahl after announcing that he would lead LCP in the following semester. The pirates mingled with their fans as the night wore on, continuing to fight the looming uncertainty with comedy and humor.
Taylor Burke Contributing Writer
Recently UMF faculty, students and community members participated in the UMF Read to ME event at W.G. Mallett School, where volunteers read to the elementary students as part of a state education initiative.
The Read to ME event is a state-wide challenge from the Department of Education that asks people to read to children for at least 15 minutes and post a picture or video of them reading with #ReadtoME in the caption to celebrate and spread a love of literacy to children across Maine.
Literacy Education Professor Kathryn Will was one of the primary organizers of the UMF Read to ME event at Mallett School. Once the volunteers arrived in the cafeteria, Will explained some logistics and how the volunteers would be split up amongst the students.
Shortly after, an announcement came over the intercom informing students that the guest readers were on their way to the classrooms. With that, the volunteers filed out the doors and scattered into the hallways.
Kaden Pendleton, a junior education major, read to a group of kindergarteners. He sat on a bench at the end of a hallway and students gathered around him with eager eyes. As he turned the pages, the kindergarteners were in awe of the illustrations displayed.
Pendleton is passionate about literacy and the connections between schools and their communities, which makes him an active supporter of the Read to ME event. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “Everybody should read to children.”
When he heard about the need for volunteers for the event, he jumped on the opportunity. “Reading to children is so important,” he said. “They want to hear the stories that you have to tell them. Even if it’s a book they’ve heard before, it’s a different voice.”
Classrooms were buzzing with students eager to meet and listen to their guest readers. Principal Tracy Williams observed this as she circulated throughout the building. “The kids are really excited and attentive,” she said.
Kaden Pendleton reading to children. Photo Courtesy of Ryan Mastrangelo.
She sees the event as a positive literacy experience. “I think it’s good for kids to see other community members and college students and adults from out in the community who they see acting on reading and really enjoying it,” she said.
Williams helped organize Read to ME at the Mallett School, but attributes much of the leg work to Will, who sent out a call for readers throughout the community and created an online page where volunteers could sign up to attend. She looked at the page the night before the event and only had 14 volunteers. However, the next day she had 39 people coming in to volunteer. This made the organization a little tricky due to the quick logistic changes that needed to be made on the day of the event.
This is Will’s fourth year organizing the event. She hopes that students and volunteers find joy and delight in participating. Will explained that the moments students have with readers aren’t complex but have a positive impact. “You can make the difference in the life of a child in reading to them for 15 minutes,” she said.
One of Will’s favorite parts of the event is the connections that can be made between people and the community. She described an experience at the event when a teacher showed interest in having Will return to read to her class. “I love those moments where people have opportunities to connect with ways in which they can contribute to the community,” she said. “And that’s the whole point of Read to ME.”
Taylor Burke, Contributing Writer
The VOYAGER: Migrational Narratives exhibit introduces a conversation on migration to the UMF community through various mediums and perspectives. The exhibit, which is free to the public, opened from Jan. 30 to March 6.
Olivia Donaldson and Ann Bartges, curators of the exhibit, recently opened the gallery on a night that included live performances and virtual reality experiences. The exhibit features paintings, collages, photographs, textiles, sculptures, a poem and digital media pieces that viewers can watch and listen to. Each piece explores what it means to migrate and highlights experiences and perspectives on migration.
Donaldson, a French professor, has been researching migration and teaches global studies. She is passionate about migration and interested in the arts. Bartges is the director of the Emery Community Arts Center and a professor of visual arts.
Donaldson and Bartges were friends prior to the project which aided their collaboration. They began conversing about migration over a poem that became part of the exhibit. “In some ways, the poet launched the conversation between Olivia and I a long time ago,” Bartges said, “the poem kind of started the whole idea of the exhibition.” Bartges proposed the idea of the exhibit to Donaldson in her efforts to find ways that Emery could serve the rest of the campus, not just the art department.
The whole project took about a year to complete. “I don’t know if either of us really mapped that out when we started this,” Bartges said laughing with Donaldson. With Bartges’ background in art and Donaldson’s vision for interdisciplinary work, the two complemented each other in the curation process.
Arturo Herrera (left) and David Sanders (right) perform at the opening night for the VOYAGER exhibit. Photo Courtesy of Ann Bartges.
Donaldson and Bartges put out a call for submissions and were presented with a strong pool of pieces. “The works by artists who had experienced migration first hand had so much more depth,” said Bartges. “Those works just tended to have more layers,” she said.
Bartges and Donaldson’s decisions were influenced by their vision for the exhibit and tone they wanted to set. “We really didn’t want the show to become a binary conversation about whether migration is good or bad,” Donaldson said. “We wanted the show to be about connections.”
Bartges found Nayda Cuevas’ piece, “Adios: Puerto Ricans Always in Migration” to capture the tone they wanted for the exhibit. “We wanted to show this really human part of the migration experience,” she said.
This exhibit provides another perspective to understanding migration and its many facets. “We all engage with [migration] in newspaper headlines and in political language,” Bartges said. “But then there’s this other opportunity to engage in these issues through stories and narratives and experiences.”
One of the mediums, included only on opening night, was a virtual reality film called “A Shared Space: Lewiston,” created by documentary filmmaker Daniel Quintanilla and collaborators Shuab Mahat and Hilowle Aden. The film chronicles Mahat and Aden, two friends, who grew up in the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Eastern Kenya and currently live in Lewiston. “It looks at the challenges they each face in raising families in Maine during a time of rising nationalism, closed borders and travel bans,” Quintanilla said in an email.
The virtual reality experience allows viewers to immerse themselves in the content in ways other forms don’t allow for. “[A Shared Space: Lewiston] came out of a need to create content that could help others see and imagine the lives of others,” Quintanilla said.“We saw 360-degree cameras and headsets as a way to create virtual experiences in which we could invite viewers to enter spaces they might not be able to enter on their own.”
The creators of the film wanted to call attention to Maine’s connection with migration and the issues that surround it.“It’s too easy to be passive and think that families separated by ICE, borders, or policies is happening elsewhere,” Quintanilla said. “One of our goals is to highlight Maine’s relationship to global migration.”
This piece, like all of the others in the exhibit, is a way of storytelling and communicating human experiences. “I hope viewers are not only moved by the stories presented,” Quintanilla said in an email. “But can translate that empathy into action of some kind.”
Two of the pieces in the exhibit were created by creative writing professor, Éireann Lorsung. Her first work, “Completely out of Water,” is a collage piece from a series of 15 that she made during her time in Belgium.
Lorsung used this piece to play with English idioms while also channeling her own experience of being foreign. “What happens when you make an idiom literal?” she said. “What’s literally happening is very uncomfortable.” Although the literal meanings of idioms can cause discomfort, the piece was also supposed to evoke some humor due to the differences between the literal and metaphorical meanings of idioms.
Curators Ann Bartges and Olivia Donaldson speak at the opening night of the VOYAGER exhibit. Photo Courtesy of Ann Bartges.
Lorsung’s second piece, “Royaume de lumière x 144,” is part of a series of 144 small paintings that document the land that she lived on and had to leave. There is also a sound bit that goes along with the piece and plays a recording of the sounds from her garden.
When Lorsung left Belgium she lost her sheep and garden, among other things. “There’s no clear way to live through that,” Lorgsung said. “Art is a way that I’m trying to understand all that stuff.”
All the objects in the paintings are drawn from memory in an effort to reclaim what can’t be reclaimed. “Basically all the work I do is really thinking about having been an immigrant and what it meant to leave,” she said.
As an immigrant herself, Lorsung has noticed that migration is generally demeaning despite it being a natural and historical occurrence. “It’s borders and boundaries that are the new thing,” she said. “Human migration is not a new thing.”
Arturo Herrera, who is based in the Detroit area, was the creator of “The National Bird” piece displayed at the exhibit. “The National Bird is an experimental performance series highlighting several migratory animal disguises,” Herrera said in an email. “It builds on the premise that wild creatures can legally cross territorial boundaries anytime and anywhere without checkpoints.”
“The National Bird” gave and still gives Herrera the opportunity to create work that tells his personal story while not being directly about him. The piece is not finished and continues to evolve and grow, much like the subject of migration. “The work provides a different perspective on issues of relevant concern like immigration,” he said.
Herrera attended the opening night of the show and performed using two characters from his series. “[M]y impression was great of the show, as well as how every work in the gallery was speaking with each other,” he said in an email.
Taylor Burke Contributing Writer
A new restaurant, Mary Jane’s Slice of Heaven, is bringing fresh flavors and perspectives to the restaurant scene in Farmington.
Mary Ellis Jamison, owner, and her mother Jane Ellis recently opened the pizzeria at 103 Narrow Gauge Square. The restaurant features a full bar, specialty pizzas, regular and gluten-free options along with burgers and salads. Customers can dine-in, take out or grab pizza by the slice.
Jamison, a Dixfield resident, has worked for her father for the last 23 years at Ellis Variety and Diner and spent the last four years managing the business.
Ellis, a Farmington resident, has worked at and managed the Big Stop restaurant at Irving in Farmington.
Jamison and Ellis began planning for the restaurant while in their future location, when the building was leased by Uno Mas. “Certainly isn’t an easy task opening a business,” Jamison said. She had to wait for her pizza oven to come in as well as other things, delaying the opening from the original Jan. 7 date.
Jane Ellis (left) and Mary Ellis Jamison (right) sit at one of the tables in their newly opened pizzeria. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Burke)
“It’s frustrating, as far as trying to set up a business,” Ellis said. “There’s no handbook out there that tells you that, so you kind of have to figure out what licenses you need and who to contact,” she said.
She has a passion for cooking, especially pizza, and she loves the challenge of being busy and getting orders out on time. “It is the most exhilarating thing,” she said, “it’s fun for me.”
Mary Jane’s provides services and products that other pizza restaurants may not have. “Nobody else has a full bar,” Ellis said, “Nobody else has the ingredients we have. So that makes us unique.” The restaurant uses fresh ingredients, not frozen. The fries are freshly cut, the dough is hand-tossed using Jamison’s own recipe and they incorporate Maine-made products wherever they can.
The restaurant has monthly specialty pizzas and burgers that aren’t on the daily menu. Upcoming specialty pizzas include Reuben, Cuban and even a Thanksgiving pizza.
“I want to make sure people are getting the quality and quantity that they are paying for,” Jamison said. This isn’t easy as fresh ingredients cost more than frozen and employees must be paid minimum wage, $12 per hour.
Jamison sees her restaurant as a starter job where employees, some who have never worked in the restaurant business, gain career building skills
. “I love to teach people,” she said, “you don’t learn things by just seeing it once.”
Brooke Valentin, a UMF sophomore and employee at Mary Jane’s, has worked in catering but never at a restaurant. She’s had some obstacles along the way but is really liking her new job as a waitress and hostess. “It is really stressful, but they do make it fun,” she said.
Some of the logistics of waitressing are taking time to get used to. “My thing is just having trouble remembering the numbers of the tables,” Valentin said, “because the set-up is a little weird.” When she gets overwhelmed, Ellis is always there to support her, offering patience and friendliness to the working environment.
Brianna McGrath, a UMF senior, recently tried Mary Jane’s. She had heard that the pizza was good so her expectations were high. “They did not disappoint,” she said. “I think I’ll definitely go back.”
Jamison wants to create a welcoming atmosphere for all ages and share her passion for pizza with the people of Farmington.“I like providing the service to the community,” she said, “and providing a product that is a happy product.”
Jamison and Ellis are planning on introducing events like open mic and trivia nights, as well as new menu items like dessert pizza, in the future. Although they are now open, they will have a grand opening in the spring providing access to the patio and giveaways for customers.