STRAND spotlight

By Liz McLeod
Still Your House Manager
I am a creature of routine. Always have been, always will be. And for the better part of fifteen years my routine and the Strand’s routine have been one, tick tick ticking its way along the familiar mileposts of the Midcoast show business calendar. Fall and Winter? Not a time of falling leaves, gentle snows, and Ho Ho Ho, but Opera Season – Saturday Matinees and Tuesday Encores breaking up the flow of the film calendar, and a couple times a month a live concert to keep things lively. Spring and Summer? Simply that all-too-short interval of long days and short nights and propping the front door open to let the popcorn fumes out that comes between the Camden Conference and CIFF. Season after season, year after year, that’s the way it’s gone. Well over 6000 movie shows, close to 300 live concerts, almost as many opera screenings, and I’ve lost track of all the other events. You get the idea.
And now, bupkis.
You know what it’s like when you’re riding a speeding subway car and it has to come to a fast stop? But you keep moving and let go of the pole and crash into the person in front of you? Well, this situation is like that, except of course without the close personal contact. Keep your distance, bub. Six foot minimum.
Or to quote a great Duke Ellington tune, “Don’t Get Around Much Any More.” Look it up on the You Tube if you don’t know it.
Not that I ever got around much in the first place. For the best part of a decade and a half the Strand has pretty much been the extent of my social life. Show business is like that. Your job isn’t to have fun yourself – although I try to violate that rule as often as I can get away with it – but to make sure everyone else is having fun. So I spend most of my waking hours here, either preparing for shows or doing what has to be done once they start. Contrary to what you might have heard, though, I do have a home other than the theatre – a modest little working-class house in the North End of Rockland, the kind of place with a bathroom the size of a broom closet, steep stairs that desperately need to be painted, a kitchen with no ventilation other than an open window, and a living room that gets sunlight about half an hour a day. But as the realtor who sold it to me said, “it’s got plenny a’ chahm.” It’s not much, but for twenty years it’s been my home. It’s just that when you coop me up there, take away my daily work routine, I get antsy. Jittery. Stir-crazy.
I don’t get many visitors, other than a couple of Strand Kids Emerita who serve as my de facto Next Of Kin. One of them dropped by the other day to check in on me and see how I was handling these latest developments. She found me hunched like a pot-bellied Gollum over my kitchen table, shoving cold French fries into my mouth with both hands.
“You don’t handle capitivity well, do you?” she observed with insight.
“Mgggggrpph!” I replied, hunching lower over my plate as if to defend it. “MUSTN’T TAKE THE PRECCCCCCIOUSSSSS!”
“Ah,” she nodded. “You’ve been grocery shopping.”
And indeed I had. I’m not what they call a prepper by any means, so I don’t actually keep much food in the house other than what I need for each day. Most of my meals, given my work routine, tend to be eaten on the run, and the waitstaff at the Rockland Café and the Waterworks Pub know my order before I even sit down. But we live in a bewildering new era now, and I’d hit the store hoping to pick up a bit more than my usual daily routine of Boston Globe, cat food, and lottery tickets. So I ventured deep into the empty-shelved aisles of the nearest supermarket – passing red-eyed throngs trawling the aisles for any lone misplaced roll of toilet paper --  and emerged, somewhat shell shocked twenty minutes later, with two cans of Hormel Chili, two boxes of matzo, an industrial-sized jar of peanut butter, a can of Vienna sausage – can you tell I go in for fusion cuisine? – and of course six cans of Friskies Filets.
I might not be dealing well with household captivity, but Carol – she’s my eleven-year-old, equally pot-bellied feline housemate – will be living large.
Now, just because the Strand is closed doesn’t mean I’m not working. There’s plenty of maintenance and upkeep required to keep the building ready to reopen once this situation blows over, and I’ll be there for the forseeable trying to keep up with it all. And from time to time I’ll take a minute to jot down a few lines reflecting on, hopefully, the lighter side of this rather unpredecented situation. I’d invite you to drop by the house some time, if you ever get around to the North End, to sample my famous Chili Matzo Delight, but, you know, Social Distancing and all…

Dear Friends,

As our community comes to terms with this emerging public health emergency, and we figure out the best way forward for keeping our friends and neighbors safe and healthy, we are following the recommendations of the CDC and our state and local health officials. We have made the decision to temporarily suspend all programming at the Strand until we have been advised that it is safe to resume and re-open.

We plan to stay in close touch with you all, via our website, email, and social media, to keep you not only updated, but also educated and entertained—so that we can continue to feel connected during a time when we are being asked to keep our distance! Stay tuned for the latest installments of our newly launched “STRANDed" programming. (See below)

Our commitment to the health and safety of our community extends mightily to our incredible staff. Starting today we have implemented a work-from-home/work alone policy that will allow employees to continue to maintain their livelihoods while the Strand is dark. To that end, it is important that we, as a community of Strand supporters, recognize that when the life we love here in midcoast Maine resumes, it will be our continued financial support as members, donors, and ticket-buyers, that will see the Strand through this challenging time.

Take good care of one another, and we will see you soon!


Jessie Davis

Executive Director

Dear Strand friends,

Our priority at the Strand is the health and safety of our patrons and employees. We will continue to monitor and follow guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as local and state public health authorities.

While the current risk level of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in midcoast Maine is considered to be low, we wanted to share the steps we're taking here at the Strand - and the precautions we, as a community of individuals, should take - to help keep each other healthy.

As of Friday, March 13, the Strand's regularly scheduled films will be screened as planned, until further notice; please see our websiteor call (207) 594-0070 for current updates.

Unfortunately, however, some of our upcoming events have been postponed or canceled due to decisions made by other presenting organizations or the inability of our visiting artists to travel.

As of today, we have had to postpone the following events:


·      March 14: Met Opera Live-in-HD: Der Fliegende Hollander

·      March 14: The Bicentennial Birthday Bash Show

·      March 14 & 15: Maine in the Movies screenings (In the Bedroom; Captain        January; Peyton Place)

·      March 20: Kat Edmonson concert

·      March 24: Met Opera Encore: Der Fliegende Hollander

·      April 5: Maine Jewish Film Festival


Rescheduled dates for these events as well as any additional event postponements will be announced via e-blast and social media, and on our website. Ticket buyers will be contacted in the event of a cancelation or postponement.

In the meantime, we ask that our patrons and staff adhere to the following guidelines and be aware of the steps we are taking to ensure everyone's health and safety:

·      If you have a fever, cough or sore throat, please do not come into the Strand. If you are sick, or wish to avoid a large group, we will happily refund your advance-purchased tickets for concerts that are scheduled through May 1; please call our box office at 207-594-0070 or e-mail [email protected]for assistance.

·      We will sell tickets for no more than 50% capacity for our movies, to allow for social distancing with fellow patrons

·      We have been increasing our frequency of cleaning and disinfecting our theater, including the box office, concessions stand, theater seats, and restrooms. 

·      We've instructed staff to follow standard precautions, including frequent handwashing, and to stay home if they feel ill. 

Thank you for your support and cooperation. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!


The Strand Board and Staff

The Strand Family Series presents live performances designed to entertain and inspire all ages! From music to magic to puppetry, these shows are great opportunities for families to share a quality artistic experience at a cost that works for all -- Tickets are available for $20, $10, $5, or $0, so that cost is not a barrier to attend.

Shows in the 2019-20 Family Series:

Friday, Nov. 8 at 7:30pm: Mother Kofi: The Tale of an African Princess (Alphonso Horne)

Saturday, Jan. 4 at 11am: The Legend of the Banana Kid (Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers)

Friday, Feb. 28 at 6:30pm: Jazzy Ash and the Leapin’ Lizards

Friday, April 3 at 6:30pm: This World Made Itself and Infinitely Yours (Miwa Matreyek)

Saturday, May 2 at 11am: Go Home Tiny Monster (The Gottabees)


More information about these shows can be found on our website

The Strand Theatre has installed closed captioning and visual-impairment assist technology in its auditorium to allow patrons that are deaf or hard of hearing, or are blind or have low vision, an opportunity to experience a wide array of film events presented at the Strand.

Purchase of the equipment was made possible with grant funds received from Fisher Charitable and Bangor Savings Bank Foundations.

The installation of the equipment follows an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) amendment announced by the former administration’s Department of Justice that requires movie theaters to provide closed movie captioning and audio description in order to give persons with hearing and vision disabilities access to the programming on offer.

"This proposed rule will allow all Americans, including those with disabilities, to fully participate in the movie-going experience. With this proposal, the Justice Department is taking an important step to ensure consistent access for people with vision and hearing disabilities," said Attorney General Eric Holder.

Closed movie captioning is the display of the written text of movie dialogue and other sounds delivered via individual captioning screens used by patrons at their seats, instead of being displayed to the entire audience on the main screen.

Visual-impairment assist technology provides audio description, transmitted to users through infrared wireless headsets, enabling individuals who are blind or have low vision to enjoy films by providing a spoken narration of key visual elements of a film, such as actions, settings, facial expressions, costumes, and scene changes. Audio description fills in information about the visual content of a movie where there are no corresponding audio elements in the film.

According to Strand Theatre Executive Director Jessie Davis, “While the proposed ADA requirements allow for exemptions from compliance based on theater size and annual income, under which category the Strand would fall, we believe that these technologies promote equity, human dignity, and fairness and it is essential for us to offer these enhancements in order to best serve all our current and future patrons.” It is estimated there are more than 53,000 visually/hearing-impaired adults living in Maine. In addition, Maine has the oldest population in the country.  “As our audience is aligned with this statewide trend, we will only see the need for closed captioning and visual-impairment assist technology grow. It is important that the Strand be a place of inclusivity within the community, which is why this accessibility project has been a priority for our organization,” Davis said.

The Strand reached its Summer Membership Drive goal of reaching the level of 1,000 Members by August 31. Anna Jennings of Rockland was recognized as the 1,000th person to join the Strand’s Membership program.

Anna was presented with a gift bag and warm thanks from Membership Coordinator Jessica Ripley and Theater Manager Liz McLeod. Anna shared a few stories about her first visits to the Strand in 2007, including one about a several-hour wait in the rain with two friends to be one of the first in line to buy season tickets for the Strand’s first-ever Metropolitan Opera Live-In-HD season.

According to Anna, she joined as a member to help ensure that the Strand will continue as a valuable resource to the community for years to come. “Oh, and the sound is award winning!”

The theater, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the  National Trust for Historic Preservation, became a nonprofit in January 2014 and is now operated by Friends of the Strand Theatre. The Strand’s Membership program was launched in April 2014. Memberships, as well as grants, sponsorships and fundraising efforts, help pay the operating expenses for the wide range of cultural and educational programming the theater presents.

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