As we approach our Development Review Board hearing, we thought we'd share some letters in support of Mirror Theater Ltd/GAAR. Today's letters are by longtime Greensboro summer resident Rob Twiss and acclaimed actor and lover of Greensboro Sean Haberle. Both letters are used here with permission of the authors. Previous letters can be found below. If you would like to add your support, please email us.
Reflections on keeping Greensboro "as it used to be" — or not.
Apparently there is considerable controversy in Greensboro about the new theater planned for the site opposite the new firehouse. This is not surprising. In all societies, there is always a group interested in, and enthusiastic about, trying new things, and a group interested in keeping things "the way they used to be", and our democratic processes are organized to accommodate and regulate this tension. That being said, there seems to me no need for extreme invective in the discussion.
For myself, I think the design of the theater is very attractive, as it makes a pleasing reference to the classic round barns of New England fame, while at the same time making modern reference to a classic and ages-old theatrical design (it is, however, a fraction of the size of the original Globe, and at least is not an open-air theater, as was the original!). Any of our homes and buildings could also be faulted for not fitting into the surrounding countryside. Does colonial architecture really fit into the landscape, or are we just so used to seeing it that we do not notice the discordance between the architecture and the natural setting?
For those who want to keep Greensboro "as it used to be", I would ask, "What Greensboro are you referring to?" The history of Greensboro (see the Greensboro Historical Society's 1990 book "History of Greensboro, the Last Two Hundred Years" by Watson, Hill and Metraux) has been one of continuous change, including the progressive loss of farm land to the construction of vacation homes (including ours), the progressive loss of local jobs on farms, and in lumber mills, granite quarries, and the wool industry, and the addition of new endeavors such as the cheese making at Jasper Hill Farm and the beer making at the Hill Farmstead Brewery. The influx of 'summer people' has also supported various forms of entertainment, including the Mountain View Country Club, with its tennis courts, continually enhanced golf course (it used to be the fairways were in cow pastures, the greens were fenced off from the cows, and Campbell Soup cans served for the cups, and if your drive hit a cow, it counted as a do-over!), and social activities at the continually upgraded clubhouse; the Lake Concerts; Summer Music from Greensboro; and the Craftsbury Chamber Players, to mention a few. So my question is: At what point in this continual change and renewal should the change be stopped in order to "keep Greensboro as it used to be"? Which Greensboro should be freeze-framed in time? Would it be the one in existence when you acquired your home? Or would you choose the time in living memory when one had to go to the telephone exchange in a building in town in order to make a phone call? Or would you stop it only after Fairpoint started offering internet connection? Would you stop change before or after the various hotels, B&B's, restaurants, and cafés began or ceased operation in the town? Or would you go back to the time recorded in Lewis Hill's wonderful memoir of growing up in Greensboro in the 1930's ("Fetched-Up Yankee", 1990, The Globe Pequot Press)? The vision of "Greensboro as it used to be" is, I think, a very individual, evolving, and ill-defined ideal!
It seems to me that life is change, although admittedly at some times change happens more rapidly than at others. We happen to be living in a time of very rapid change in society and population, which many of us find disorienting. But it is a process that is inherent in our current society, and one can look for the good in change or see it all as bad. We used to hear dire warnings about the consequences of letting Circus Smirkus build their camp at the corner of Breezy Avenue and Club House Road, but has anyone noticed any of these consequences? Are there kids running all over the town? Has the traffic generated by the camp impacted anyone any more than the crush of summer people at Willey's Store? I think the answer to these questions is most likely, "No!" For me, the camp is a wonderful addition to the town and to the children it serves.
So in the same vein, it seems to me that the Greensboro Arts Alliance and Residency (also known as GAAR) has brought, and will continue to bring to Greensboro, a wonderful addition to what Greensboro has to offer. Its shows have been of outstanding quality and have involved both local residents and summer people, including numerous children, in an exciting collaboration with professional actors, to put on an outstanding series of entertaining and thought-provoking theatrical productions. Moreover, the theater will be a fantastic resource for the entire area, being available for various activities including music programs, school events, and extracurricular programs. The inclusion of a café attached to the theater will return to the town a venue for social gathering and convivial meetings; the town has now lost all its pre-existing cafés (and restaurants). So what's not to like? To me, this theater is a wonderful gift to the town and the surrounding area, and GAAR has proven its creativity and popular success with its wide range of theatrical productions.
Put me in the camp of welcoming exciting and creative change that brings new opportunities to both year-round and summer residents.
Robert J. Twiss
Greensboro Summer Person
The Pioneering Spirit
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing in support of the Mirror Theater, the new home for the Greensboro Arts Alliance and Residency. This project will be beneficial to both the economic and cultural nourishment of not only the Greensboro area, but to the state of Vermont as a whole.
I had the opportunity to spend last summer in Greensboro as a visiting artist and company member of the Mirror and I have to say I truly fell in love with the town, the environment and the people. I enjoyed the lake, the stars, the local brewery and I was shopping at Willies almost every day. I brought my wife and three children to Greensboro and we all agreed that this was a place that we would love to return to many many times.
One of the highlights of last summer was getting to know and working artistically with year round members of the community. They welcomed me into their homes, occasionally fed me and always made me feel at home, and together we created meaningful and beautiful works of art, that were enjoyed by many people. Occasionally the lights went out, or the tent that housed us was so battered by rain that we shouted our lines to be heard, but the spirit of the work always shone through thanks to the pioneering spirit of those involved.
That being said I would like to give my support to the new venue being built to house not only the Mirror but many other culturally enriching events and educational opportunities that will that will benefit, both spiritually and economically, the town of Greensboro. To have a roof over our heads, heat in the winter and space to develop and perform our works is essential to nourish this great venture.
Thank you so much for considering my support. While I am still a visitor to Greensboro I hope one day to be considered a member of your community. I hope for many years to be adding my work, myself, and my family to the Greensboro community.