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Calling all silent movie stars: Join the volunteer spirit that thrives in Lanesboro


Fri, Sep 21st, 2012
Posted in Lanesboro Arts & Culture

Ever dream you’d star in a moving picture show? Here’s your chance to be part of a fairytale-come: the 2013 Silent Movie project.

This fantasy volunteer project got started this year in Lanesboro, Minnesota, a place where people work together to make things happen. When Lanesboro Community Theater members developed a plan in August to produce an all-local silent movie that would air over Taste of the Trail Towns weekend, September 8-9, they put out a call for actors needed to bring the fairytale retelling concept to life.

The silent, subtitled video of transformed fairytales would be a family-friendly production, shown outdoors on warm evenings at Sylvan Park and would be called “Silent Movie in the Park – After Dark!”

“In less than 4 days, we had a cast of almost sixty eager volunteers,” said director Barbara Benson Keith. Local people and weekend guests came forward to act out a variety of humorous and creative roles – ranging from townspeople trying to crack the mystery of Rumpelstiltskin’s name, to a succession of princes chopping their way through brambles to break Sleeping Beauty’s spell, from fairytale royalty to a troll beneath a bridge.

What made the 2012 production uniquely attractive to so many volunteers? Perhaps the fact that it was a silent film. Producer Sandy Webb noted, “Volunteers felt free to explore their very own original ways to portray their characters, knowing the film would be edited by a kind eye.” Many participants echoed Kay Wold’s comment, “It was so much fun!”

On the nights of the screenings, fifteen more volunteers stepped forward to set up equipment, to make and sell popcorn and treats, and to ensure that all aspects of the show went smoothly. As dusk set in, a legion of local moviegoers arrived at Lanesboro’s Sylvan Park with their blankets and lawn chairs. Individuals and clusters of friends, couples on date-night, families with kids in footy pajamas. Ready to see what was all the buzz was about.

And, still, the volunteers kept coming! Yet another dozen musicians, magicians, dancers and vocalists donated time and talent to create preshow entertainment. Then the once-upon-a-time movies began. Parents whispered the silent movie screen titles to their too-young-to-read children. Neighbors thrilled to identify one another in their roles on the screen. Audience members laughed along with the actors. Yes! This is the kind of thing that can happen in a community like Lanesboro where people work together to play!

Before the night was out, Lanesboro Community Theater already had a strong list of volunteers committing to help with Silent Movie 2013. And there’s still room for more acting and off-camera volunteers to join the fun next September. To add your name, visit Lanesboro Community Theater’s Facebook page.

If you missed the showings, all is not lost. The Community Theater donated a DVD of their 2012 Silent Movie to the Lanesboro Public Library where anyone with a library card can check out the video and catch up on the humorous showcase of local talent. DVDs are also available for purchase at “Over the Back Fence” radio show on second Friday evenings of the month at 7:30 pm, at the St. Mane Theatre or at the Lanesboro Art Center at 103 Parkway Avenue N., Lanesboro, MN. Call 507-467-2446. The production was supported by a grant from Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council.

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