A Theatrical Throwdown

For those of us who live here year-round, the best part about summer in Maine isn't the sunny beaches (especially this year), the great hiking or the great seasonal restaurants.

Nope, it's the wealth of cultural options. Sure, there are plenty of things to do in January and March. but when else will you find yourself debating whether you should head to Bangor for the Northern Writes New Play Festival or drive to Blue Hill for a Shakespeare reading? In the middle of the week, no less.

It's a Wednesday night fight. With two heavyweights contending for your viewing enjoyment.

In this corner, Mike Daisey, a Maine native, Colby grad and celebrated New York monologist who will open Penobscot Theatre Company's Northern Writes festival with The Last Cargo Cult. Daisey is known for unflinching narratives that juxtapose personal experience with hot-button issues — one of his more famous monologues takes on the Wal-Mart that ate his hometown. The Last Cargo Cult is no exception: Daisey's newest work confronts the current economic crisis while weaving in his experience on a remote South Pacific island whose inhabitants worship America and pray every day that America will return. Tonight's performance kicks off the festival, which runs through July 3. For more information, click here.

And in this corner, William Shakespeare, a British playwright of uncertain identity who is known for such works as Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew. The Maven's colleague and dear friend Alicia Anstead, an award-winning journalist and critic, will lead a community reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Blue Hill Public Library. The event is part of Shake Stonington, Opera House Arts' summertime celebration of the Bard. Last summer's community reading in Stonington sparked a heated discussion about greed, humanity and, of all people, Saddam Hussein. Read more about tonight's reading Anstead's blog.

No matter which contender you put your money on, you'll win. They're both knockouts.


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