The 2019 Guilford Performing Arts Festival (GPAF) will enliven the Connecticut Shoreline with four days of free music, drama, dance, spoken word, circus and other events on and around the historic Guilford green. Scheduled for September 26 to 29, the festival will combine more than 70 live shows and workshops with performing-arts education in the public schools and arts-based community service. Events will take place in a dozen venues: in a tent on the green as well as in churches, cafes and markets, galleries, a bookstore, the community center, the high school performing arts center and historic homes.
The festival is built around a rich core of local and regional talent—musicians and composers, dancers and choreographers, playwrights and actors, poets and authors, teachers and storytellers—many of whom have national-scale careers and only infrequently perform close to home. The 2019 roster includes 44 musical acts in a wide range of genres; 17 artists in drama, musical theater, the literary arts and spoken word; seven dance companies and more, including aerial circus acts, interactive music and theater, mindreading and a bread-making performance. Many artists are from the Shoreline; others are traveling from New York, the Hudson Valley and outside Boston.
This year’s marquee performers include the internationally acclaimed dance company Pilobolus, the United States Coast Guard Band, Latin Grammy-winning Afro Bop Alliance Latin Jazz Sextet, the innovative brass ensemble Dingonek Street Band and author Carlos Eire. Dancers from Pilobolus will be in residence during the week leading up the festival, holding movement workshops for students in the Guilford High School theatre arts program, and teaching free dance classes for the public, for residents of a senior living center and for members of a theater company who ambulate via crutches or wheelchairs.
Eight artists will hold workshops or master classes in the public schools, including Pilobolus and members of the Afro Bop Alliance and Dingonek Street bands. They’ll be joined by hip hop violinist DBR (Daniel Bernard Roumain), gospel/R&B singer Angela Clemmons, actress/Artistic Director Keely Baisden Knudsen of Legacy Theatre, and dramatic tenor/playwright/Artistic Director Marc Deaton of Madison Lyric Stage. The Coast Guard Band’s live concert will feature a side-by-side performance with the Guilford High School Wind Ensemble.
According to founder and Chairman William Boughton, the festival has three core goals: entertainment, education and impact. It aims to energize and bring the Shoreline community together through a celebration of diverse American arts and culture, showcase the area’s great artistic talent, bring world-class performers to the Shoreline, contribute to the region’s economy, stimulate the creation of new work by Connecticut artists, and show how the arts can literally change lives.
A GPAF Artists’ Awards program, established in 2018, grants funds to Connecticut artists who create or develop new work and debut it at the festival. Playwright Susan Cinoman of Westbrook was the inaugural winner in Drama and will present a staged reading of her play Guenevere at the festival. Composer/pianist Noah Baerman was recipient in Music and will perform his extended jazz composition Cliff Palace with his sextet.