Hogfish Brings Inclusiveness and Fantasy to Maine’s Performing Arts Scene – The Bowdoin Orient

Chayma Charifi

When Matt and Edwin Cahill first met, they were working on a theater production on Fire Island. Several years later and after getting married in Maine, the couple bought the historic Beckett Castle in Cape Elizabeth with one goal: to start their own production company.

Together they created Hogfish, a regenerative arts and artist training business based on the hallowed property of Cape Elizabeth. By combining the arts with the principles of regenerative agriculture, Hogfish not only seeks to heal the land, but also its students and artists.

The young company’s most recent production was “The Magic Tree,” a modern retelling of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s opera, “The Enchanted Tree,” which debuted in 1775 at Versailles. Hogfish collaborated with Charles Mary Kubricht, an artist and environmentalist from New York, as well as Loquat, an ethical and sustainable clothing company based in Portland, to stage the production in a way that is true to the accent. put by the company on regeneration. The production completed its inaugural run of three performances, which took place at Wolfe’s Neck Center in Freeport on August 26 and 27 and at Ram Island Farm in Cape Elizabeth on August 28.

Edwin Cahill first discovered and fell in love with the source material at the Paris Opera, and using his knowledge of the French language and experience as a classically trained performer and producer, breathed new life into it. piece.

“Our mission is to bring beautiful and forgotten ancient works to life, as well as to create entirely new contemporary works,” said Edwin Cahill. “In ‘The Magic Tree,’ we had a bit of both.”

In addition to adapting the opera for English-speaking audiences, the Cahills were also very intentional about creating a production that reflected people from all walks of life; this goal stems from the couple’s shared experience as queer Mainers who feel supported by their home state. The characters in the opera and the actors who play them represent a wide range of gender identities, racial identities, ethnic identities, sexualities and abilities.

“There is a question that interests me: in this time, how do we create a space where everyone feels included, but where we can all show up for something together? says Matt Cahill. “Now we are here and want to invite all artists from all walks of life.”

Additionally, since the source material “The Magic Tree” is based on is in the public domain, its musical score can be adapted so people of all genders and vocal ranges can easily play any role. . This emphasizes Hogfish’s ability to present diverse sexualities and gender identities among different performances within the same production.

“Like us [expand] this production, our goal is to have multiple expressions of love and relationships on the show,” said Edwin Cahill. “Depending on the night you leave [to a performance]you might see a different expression of love in the protagonists.

Gender and sexuality binaries aren’t the only ones Hogfish wants to break. “The Magic Tree” also blurs the line between theater and opera, as well as the line between viewer and performer through audience participation. The company actively challenges socially constructed norms, much like its namesake.

“The pig [is] this animal that transcends the binary, that lives its life as both genders, that looks like a pig and a fish at the same time,” said Matt Cahill. “The idea is connection and balance.”