Mettawee River Theatre Company first produced THE RINGDOVE in 1988. It is is drawn from THE PANCHATANTRA, a collection of stories whose origins reach back over 2,000 years, to ancient India. It is an allegorical tale about friendship. The central characters are a crow, a rat, a turtle and a gazelle, whose behavior and relationships reflect many aspects of human nature. The production tells the story of the creatures’ growth in friendship with each other, as they achieve strength and harmony through cooperation and understanding.
SALEM, NY (July 1, 2019)-- The Mettawee River Theatre Company will present The Ringdove on the lawn of Park-McCullough House in North Bennington on Sunday, July 14 at 8:00pm. Admission is free. Please bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on.
The Ringdove, first produced by the company in 1988, is drawn from THE PANCHATANTRA, a collection of allegorical tales whose origins reach back over 2,000 years, to ancient India. The central characters are a crow, a rat, a turtle and a gazelle, whose adventures, behavior and relationships reflect many aspects of human nature. The production tells the story of the creatures’ growth in friendship with each other, as they achieve strength and harmony through cooperation and understanding. The show will incorporate a range of masks, puppets and other visual elements.
“The Ringdove draws on ancient wisdom but also speaks to us in the here and now with humor and zest,” said Mettawee Artistic Director Ralph Lee. “It’s a tale of friendship and generosity that seems a timely response to the state of affairs that surround us today."
The company of actors includes Mettawee veterans Claire Moodey and Greg Manley, with newcomers Maia Karo, Jared Thomson and Merlin Whitehawk. The soaring musical score is by Neal Kirkwood, who has composed scores for Mettawee productions since 2001. The musicians are Ed Rosenberg on alto saxophone and hammered dulcimer, and John Ling on vibraphone and percussion.
The script from the 1988 production is by company member George Sand, with revisions and new material written by Kristine Haruna Lee. The production is directed and designed by Ralph Lee, with costumes by Casey Compton.
About the Mettawee Theatre Company
Under the Artistic Direction of mask maker, designer and director Ralph Lee, the Mettawee River Theatre Company, founded in 1975, creates original theater productions that incorporate masks, giant figures, puppets and other visual elements with live music, movement and text, drawing on myths, legends and folklore of the world’s many cultures for its material. The company is committed to bringing theater to people who may have little or no access to live professional performances.
In his design and direction, Lee seeks to create vivid theatrical moments with economy and elegance. This search for an evocative simplicity of image and Mettawee’s commitment to making theater accessible to the widest possible audience through its outdoor performances give this theater company its particular character.
About Ralph Lee
Ralph Lee first created puppets as a child growing up in Middlebury, Vermont. He graduated from Amherst College in 1957, and studied dance and theater in Europe for two years on a Fulbright Scholarship. Upon returning to the United States, Lee acted on Broadway, off-Broadway, in regional theaters and with the Open Theatre. During that period he started creating masks, unusual props, puppets and larger-than-life figures for theater and dance companies, including the New York Shakespeare Festival, Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, the Living Theatre, the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, Shari Lewis, the Metropolitan Opera and Saturday Night Live.
In 1974, while teaching at Bennington College, Lee staged his first outdoor production, which took place all over the college campus, and featured giant puppets and masked creatures. That same year he organized the first Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, which he directed through 1985. For his work on the parade Lee received a 1975 Village Voice OBIE Award, a 1985 Citation from the Municipal Arts Society, and in 1993 he was inducted into the City Lore People's Hall of Fame.
Two of Lee's Mettawee productions have been honored with American Theatre Wing Design Awards: The Popol Vuh in 1995 and Wichikapache Goes Walking in 1992. Under Lee's direction, Mettawee also received a 1991 Village Voice OBIE Award and two Citations for Excellence from UNIMA, the international puppetry organization. Additional awards to Lee include a 1996 Dance Theatre Workshop Bessie Award for “sustained achievement as a mask maker and theatre designer without equal,” and a 1996 New York State Governor's Arts Award in recognition of his many contributions to the artistic and cultural life of New York State. In 2003, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship, one of the nation’s most prestigious honors. In 2008 Lee served as the Jim Henson Artist-in-Residence at the University of Maryland at College Park. He is currently on the faculty of New York University.
In 2020, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City will mount a large-scale retrospective of Lee’s body of work.
For more information about the Mettawee River Theatre Company, visit the company’s web site at www.mettawee.org.