FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington will present the world premier performance of “Staring Up at Giants,” as the spring Theatre UMF production.

Performances are set for 7:30 tonight through Saturday, March 1-3; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 4, in the UMF Alumni Theater, according to a UMF news release.

The cast, students with hometowns, include Julia Allen, of Cromwell, Connecticut; Gail Bello, of Waltham, Massachusetts; Charles Lang, of Norway; Elizabeth Mitchell, of Turner; Maddison Whittington, of Farmington; and Chloe Woodward, of Augusta.

An original, never-before-seen performance, this play is created by the performance ensemble and director, Melissa C. Thompson, UMF assistant professor of performing arts, as they explored the concept of resistance in all of its facets — physical, scientific, social and political, according to a news release from the college.

The ensemble dove into questions such as: what does resistance look, sound and feel like? As individuals, what moves us to resist? Are there ways we resist that are based in our cultures, regions or personalities? What kind of things do we fight for, what do we fight over and how do we resolve conflict? How do we find the bravery to resist when facing problems that affect the entire community? With these questions as an inspiration and employing experimental physical theatre techniques, the resulting performance is in turn funny, poignant and compelling.

Created using “devised performance” techniques, the show began only with an ensemble, a set design and a concept to explore. Before approaching any content creation, the ensemble trained together in physical theatre and composition work as a way to get the group on the same aesthetic page — taking the focus away from traditional character creation and instead putting focus on the ways people communicate with each other physically.


The director and ensemble then went through a process of “devising” — creating content, combining it with other content, editing, revising etc., resulting in a performance that the whole group had a significant hand in crafting.

“Devised performance is probably my favorite way to work,” said Thompson, according to the release. “It gets students thinking in new ways, reaching for ideas they wouldn’t have considered when first auditioning, and really taking ownership over the work they end up producing. They come out of the process really feeling that the work belonged to all of them.”

Thompson is an artist, a scholar, and a co-founder of the multi-disciplinary arts project The Sacred Heart Archive. She has performed and conducted devised physical theatre workshops both nationally and internationally working with a diverse group of artists from Richard Gough of the Center for Performance Research to Elevator Repair Service to Tim Miller of the “NEA Four.”

Her original piece, “The Key Said Run and the Door Said Fly,” has been featured at many spaces across the U.S., including the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and Highways Performance Space.

Thompson has two current multi-disciplinary performance collaborations: “Ask the Ambien Cassandra” — a collaboration with New Media designer Alison Dobbins, and “All Night Check: Beautiful Young Ladies to Perform for You” — a collaboration with Victoria Petterson Lantz and Angela Swiegart-Gallagher of The Wandering Uterus Project.

She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Brittany Paradis, of Jay, is stage manager, with Michaela Carney, of Richmond, as assistant stage manager.

For more information, call 778-7081.

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