New York-Based Theater Artist Digging into Southern Vermont’s History

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Writer/Director/Performer Ain Gordon researches local history as Guilford and Marlboro celebrate 250th anniversary.

GUILFORD, Vermont (November 14, 2011) -- Obie award-winning theater artist Ain Gordon will step away from the spotlight of New York City’s stages and dive into the hidden history behind southern Vermont’s forgotten cellar holes and stone walls as he researches and develops his newest work, Not What Happened.

Gordon, a Brooklyn-based writer/director/performer, is in the thick of a year-long residency with Vermont Performance Lab, a nonprofit in Guilford, Vermont, that absorbs accomplished artists into rural Vermont communities as they create new works in contemporary performance. Gordon is using the overlooked histories of hamlets like Guilford, Marlboro and Newfane as inspiration as he writes the screenplay for Not What Happened, a fictional two-character event that is rooted in the politics of historical reenactment.

Gordon’s residency occurs as both Marlboro and Guilford are celebrating their 250th anniversaries.

Gordon’s research is aided by Marlboro’s Town Lister, Forrest Holzapfel, a native-Vermonter with an intimate knowledge of local history. Also an accomplished photographer, Holzapfel will contribute images that will be incorporated in the scenography for Gordon's theatrical production.

A collaboration with Marlboro College has Gordon working closely with professors of American History, anthropology and theater to teach a class called, “Presence of the Past.” This seminar course uses local semiquincentennial celebrations to frame and explore the topic of commemoration in relation to local history. They will draw on materials and methods from anthropology, history and performance studies to ask such questions as: How do people and places inscribe and perform their own history? Which stories are remembered as institutionalized public events, and which are forgotten, relegated to the private spaces of attic trunks? While Gordon conducts his own research, students will create their own immersive historical experiences, commemorating some aspect of local history.

As part of Guilford's 250th anniversary celebration, Gordon will be performing with a group of local actors and musicians over Thanksgiving weekend at the Guilford Meeting House in the Broad Brook Anthology: A Play for Voices. The play, directed by Michael Kennedy with music by Don McLean and photographs by Jeff Woodward, was written by Guilford-based poet Verandah Porche and is based on recollections she collected from Guilford Elders.

For more information about the Thanksgiving performances visit

Additional support for Gordon’s research is provided by the Center for Creative Research at New York University, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For more information on Gordon’s residency, visit Vermont Performance Lab on the web.

Gordon is a three-time Obie Award-winning writer/director/actor, a two-time NYFA Fellow and the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in Playwriting. His work has been commissioned/produced/presented by New York Theater Workshop, Soho Rep., The Public Theatre, 651 ARTS, Dance Theater Workshop, Performance Space 122, the Kitchen Theatre, and HERE Arts Center. He wrote for NBC’s Will & Grace. Gordon has received support from the Multi-Arts Production Fund (MAP), the Jerome Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art, the Department of Cultural Affairs, the NPN, the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, AT&T.

The Lab Program is at the heart of Vermont Performance Lab’s (VPL) mission to support the creation and development of new work by contemporary performing artists. Each year VPL selects three to four artists to participate in the Lab Program – a creative residency where artists have access to various kinds of creative space in a small rural Vermont community. In this retreat-like setting, artists can concentrate on research and experimentation and test performance ideas with small audiences. VPL often partners with local organizations to host such residencies and create meaningful connections between artists and communities. More information at:

For over 60 years, Marlboro College has offered undergraduate education in the liberal arts and, since 1997, master's degree programs for working adults in the areas of educational technology, internet technologies, health care administration and an MBA in Managing for Sustainability. Its 330 undergraduate students enjoy an 8:1 student-faculty ratio, a voice in governing the community and individualized courses of study on a 300-acre campus in the hills of southern Vermont. More information at