Almost 20 years ago, the Maine Humanities Council supported the creation and performance of a short play by director, actor, and playwright David Greenham that raised questions about the exodus of young people from Maine. More recently, again with Council support, Greenham, as Producing Director of The Theater at Monmouth, helped develop another Theater of Ideas play to explore the diverse and divergent demands on Maine rivers. It too was well received.
In 2006, as part of the observance of Council's 30th anniversary, David Greenham was back, with a short theatrical piece focused on another theme relevant to Mainers: taxes.
Through different historical characters, humor, little known facts, and thought-provoking stories, Taxing Maine explored what taxes mean for Maine communities, the state government, the Maine landscape, and Mainers’ wallets. The performance, featuring Greenham and fellow Theater at Monmouth actor Dennis A. Price, encouraged the audience to consider how history and a range of opinions and beliefs about taxes have influenced our current taxation system.
Following each performance, the actors, in character, engaged the audience in a discussion of the ideas raised in the play. There was no attempt to change opinions or to reach consensus; the goal was simply to encourage the audience to reflect on and share their thoughts about what they had heard and seen.
Awards & Reviews
The Maine Humanities Council received a total of three national awards for Taxing Maine: the Award of Merit and the WOW award from the American Association for State and Local History and the Schwartz Prize from the Federation of State Humanities Councils. This is the Council’s third Schwartz Prize. The prize is given annually to an outstanding public humanities initiative that uses innovative approaches to provide cultural programming to large and diverse audiences.
Taxing Maine toured the state from May through October 2006. Libraries, schools, and other community groups hosted over 30 performances, which were offered free of charge by the Maine Humanities Council. A complete list of venues follows.
Auburn (Auburn Public Library), Bangor (Center for Family Business, Husson College), Bar Harbor (Jesup Memorial Library), Bath (Winter Street Center), Bethel (Gould Academy), Biddeford (McArthur Public Library), Brunswick (Curtis Memorial Library, sponsored by the League of Women Voters), Camden (Camden Public Library), Dexter (Abbott Memorial Library), Dover-Foxcroft (Center Theatre for the Performing Arts), Eastport (Eastport Arts Center), Farmington (University of Maine at Farmington), Gorham (White Rock Grange), Lewiston (Mays Center, Bates College), Lincoln (Lincoln Memorial Library), Lubec (American Legion Post #65), Machias (Performing Arts Center, University of Maine at Machias), Naples (Naples Public Library), North Haven (Waterman's Community Center), Portland (Children's Theater of Maine, Maine Historical Society, Portland Public Library), Rangeley (Rangeley Public Library), Rockland (Rockland Public Library), Scarborough (Scarborough Public Library), Skowhegan (Coburn Park Gazebo), Springvale (Springvale Baptist Church), St. Agathe (Wisdom High School), Stonington (Opera House), Van Buren (Van Buren High School Auditorium), Wells (York County Community College), West Newfield (West Newfield Town Hall), Winthrop (Winthrop Performing Arts Center).
This project was funded by the We the People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.