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Episode # 21 - Castaway: David Greenham

From: Jeff Wax
Series: Desert Island Discs
Length: 01:20:19

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David Greenham has been a resident of Maine since the summer of 1985 when he moved here with a group of friends from Syracuse University to begin a theater company on Vinalhaven Island. The company, Brown’s Head Rep, was located near the Brown’s Head Lighthouse on the channel between North Haven and Vinalhaven. He grew up in Rochester, NY and spent his summers at Chautauqua, a sort of cultural wonderland in the southwestern corner of the state. His parents were very musical and both sang in the church choir and with other groups, but it was Chautauqua that gave him his sense that arts and community should be intertwined. Growing up, David loved theater and music. He used to go twice a year to the Shakespeare in Stratford, Ontario, and in the summers heard classical music, went to theater, opera, ballet, took art classes, theater classes – was kind of immersed. There were also daily lectures on art, literature, politics, education. He remembers that it was really quite a remarkable place to be a kid. “Looking back, I think I was a little like a sponge there and took it all in.” Read the full description.

David_greenham2_small David Greenham has been a resident of Maine since the summer of 1985 when he moved here with a group of friends from Syracuse University to begin a theater company on Vinalhaven Island. The company, Brown’s Head Rep, was located near the Brown’s Head Lighthouse on the channel between North Haven and Vinalhaven.

He grew up in Rochester, NY and spent his summers at Chautauqua, a sort of cultural wonderland in the southwestern corner of the state. His parents were very musical and both sang in the church choir and with other groups, but it was Chautauqua that gave him his sense that arts and community should be intertwined. Growing up, David loved theater and music. He used to go twice a year to the Shakespeare in Stratford, Ontario, and in the summers heard classical music, went to theater, opera, ballet, took art classes, theater classes – was kind of immersed. There were also daily lectures on art, literature, politics, education. He remembers that it was really quite a remarkable place to be a kid. “Looking back, I think I was a little like a sponge there and took it all in.” But the other part about summers in Chautauqua was that none of it was that big a deal. They had this Amphitheater with a show every single night. Sometimes there were big name acts. But often during the day or the next day, you could run into the star buying ice cream or hanging out at the beach or something. It was especially true with the performers in the resident symphony or theater company or opera company. You’d get to know them a bit during the course of the summer and then have the opportunity to see them perform. There was a great small town feel to it all, and David is certain that’s what gave him his love or rural communities and the great role that arts can play.

David majored in theater at Syracuse. After some years bouncing around New York and working at theater and other odd jobs, he was invited to return to Syracuse to pursue a graduate degree in theater management. Before he could finish the degree, he and his friends hatched the idea to come to Maine, and David never left.

A year ago, David stepped down after 14 years as Producing Artistic Director of The Theater At Monmouth, The Shakespearean Theater of Maine. “I loved the job, the people, and beautiful Cumston Hall in Monmouth, but running a small non-profit or any kind of small business is an all-encompassing thing, and it seemed to me that if I was going to do some of the other things I wanted to do in my life, I’d better get to it.”

David is an adjunct professor of Drama at the University of Maine at Augusta, and works as a grant writer and consultant for non-profit organizations around the state, and was just elected to his local school board. He’s still doing a bit of theater working as a freelance director now and again, and is doing some writing. This is the first summer in about 25 years that he’s had so much free time in the evenings and weekends and he’s amazed by all the wonderful things that go on in Maine. An avid theater-goer, he’s been to summer shows from South Berwick to Rangeley, and South Paris to Stonington, and a whole lot of places in between. “This summer has been fantastic!”

David lives in Readfield with his wife, Jeri Pitcher, a licensed massage therapist and theater artist, and their son Zach, who will be a senior at Maranacook Community School and has spent much of the summer travelling around the state performing gigs as the bass player with The Maranacook String Band.

Also in the Desert Island Discs series

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Piece Description

David Greenham has been a resident of Maine since the summer of 1985 when he moved here with a group of friends from Syracuse University to begin a theater company on Vinalhaven Island. The company, Brown’s Head Rep, was located near the Brown’s Head Lighthouse on the channel between North Haven and Vinalhaven.

He grew up in Rochester, NY and spent his summers at Chautauqua, a sort of cultural wonderland in the southwestern corner of the state. His parents were very musical and both sang in the church choir and with other groups, but it was Chautauqua that gave him his sense that arts and community should be intertwined. Growing up, David loved theater and music. He used to go twice a year to the Shakespeare in Stratford, Ontario, and in the summers heard classical music, went to theater, opera, ballet, took art classes, theater classes – was kind of immersed. There were also daily lectures on art, literature, politics, education. He remembers that it was really quite a remarkable place to be a kid. “Looking back, I think I was a little like a sponge there and took it all in.” But the other part about summers in Chautauqua was that none of it was that big a deal. They had this Amphitheater with a show every single night. Sometimes there were big name acts. But often during the day or the next day, you could run into the star buying ice cream or hanging out at the beach or something. It was especially true with the performers in the resident symphony or theater company or opera company. You’d get to know them a bit during the course of the summer and then have the opportunity to see them perform. There was a great small town feel to it all, and David is certain that’s what gave him his love or rural communities and the great role that arts can play.

David majored in theater at Syracuse. After some years bouncing around New York and working at theater and other odd jobs, he was invited to return to Syracuse to pursue a graduate degree in theater management. Before he could finish the degree, he and his friends hatched the idea to come to Maine, and David never left.

A year ago, David stepped down after 14 years as Producing Artistic Director of The Theater At Monmouth, The Shakespearean Theater of Maine. “I loved the job, the people, and beautiful Cumston Hall in Monmouth, but running a small non-profit or any kind of small business is an all-encompassing thing, and it seemed to me that if I was going to do some of the other things I wanted to do in my life, I’d better get to it.”

David is an adjunct professor of Drama at the University of Maine at Augusta, and works as a grant writer and consultant for non-profit organizations around the state, and was just elected to his local school board. He’s still doing a bit of theater working as a freelance director now and again, and is doing some writing. This is the first summer in about 25 years that he’s had so much free time in the evenings and weekends and he’s amazed by all the wonderful things that go on in Maine. An avid theater-goer, he’s been to summer shows from South Berwick to Rangeley, and South Paris to Stonington, and a whole lot of places in between. “This summer has been fantastic!”

David lives in Readfield with his wife, Jeri Pitcher, a licensed massage therapist and theater artist, and their son Zach, who will be a senior at Maranacook Community School and has spent much of the summer travelling around the state performing gigs as the bass player with The Maranacook String Band.

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
Desert Island XTC Mummer. Virgin UK 2001 01:00
Hello! Original Broadway Cast Music From The Book Of Mormon. No Milk Today - OMP 2012 02:51
Nessum Dorma Mario Borrelli Amico Mio. Farewell Music Switzerland 2008 02:55
Chicken Ala Blues Cousin Joe From New Orleans Too Much Fun. Unknown 1973 02:20
Come All You Young and Handsome Girls Maranacook String Band Bear In The Barn. Unknown 2010 04:15
Please Don't Bury Me John Prine The Best of John Prine. Atlantic 1976 02:50
Better Than Anything Al Jarreau Look To The Rainbow: Live In Europe. Unknown 1977 05:13
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins Singers Mariages. Wagram Music 2009 05:09
I Like You Lorne Elliott Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes # 14. Unknown 1982 03:51