Prosecco, poetry and a couple of flicks: Amherst Live hosts community-building event, ‘Highbrow at the Drive-In’

  • Amherst Live presents “Highbrow at the “Drive-In,” an evening of poetry and film, July 7. PHOTO COURTESY OF AMHERST LIVE

  • Sissy Spacek, left and Martin Sheen star in the 1973 crime film “Badlands.”

  • Jacques Villeret and Thierry Lhermitte appear in the 1998 film “The Dinner Game” (“Le Diner de Cons”). Lions Gate

  • Martin Sheen stars in the 1973 crime film “Badlands.”

For the Gazette
Published: 6/29/2016 3:28:00 PM

So, you’ve decided to go to the movies. You know the usual drill: You make your way into a darkened, hushed theater, where you are surrounded by strangers you are not supposed to talk to. When it’s over and the lights come on, there you are, slumped amid forgotten candy wrappers and discarded bits of buttered popcorn.

Or, you could slide into a limousine, sip on a glass of Prosecco (an Italian sparkling white wine), and join a crew of poets on their way to an outdoor drive-in theater for what’s being described by organizers as an evening of witty conversation and breathtaking cinematography. 

If that sounds tantalizing, check out “Highbrow at the Drive-In” on July 7, an evening of poetry, outdoor movie watching and fun with members of the local community. It includes the showing of two movies, “Badlands” and “The Dinner Game,” which will follow live poetry readings at the Northfield Drive-In in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. 

It’s all part of an event sponsored by Amherst Live, a live magazine show that invites members of the local community to share stories. The community story-telling events are designed to bring members of the community together. Karen Skolfield, Amherst Live’s poetry director, says the events are meant to connect people in the town with each other as well as to the town itself.

Under the stars

At the theater, a ring of dark pine trees will surround you as the dusk sky hangs above. With lawn chairs and bug spray (bring your own) and fine wine, limousine passengers (more about that later) and general audience members (who drive themselves) will be treated to poetry in advance of the two films.

“Badlands,” a 1973 American crime film written and directed by Terrance Malick, is about two outlaws (Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek), on the run for their violent crimes. The New York Times called it a “brilliant, always ferociously American film.”

The second movie, “The Dinner Game,” is a 1998 French comedy film written and directed by Francis Veber. The San Francisco Chronicle called it “the funniest film” of its season.

Event organizers say they selected the films in part to take advantage of the drive-in theater’s large screen.

“What’s special about the drive-in is that you are in this incredible open place and it’s beautiful,” said Oliver Broudy, Amherst Live’s founder and executive director. “It’s literally against the stars. It’s really something.”

The poets

It was Broudy’s idea to combine the poets with the pics. Broudy, who calls Amherst “the land of the poets,” says the presence of poets can improve any public event.

Skolfield concurs. She has been involved with Amherst Live since it started and currently teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

“This is a huge poet community that we have,” Skolfield said.” 

The poets who will join in the limousine ride as well as read their original works inspired by “the cinema,” will be Matthew Lippman, Kerrin McCadden and Connolly Ryan.

Ryan, who is teaching English classes to Chinese students at UMass this summer, will read his film-inspired poetry, “Jaws Versus Rocky.”

He says both the mid-1970s films he references in his poetry, are as American as film gets. 

“Both movies ... tapped into something powerful in the American DNA, which is why they have stayed with me and still influence my imagination after all these years,” Ryan said. 

Ryan says he recognizes an “ironic miracle” in these classics. While the films vilify Apollo Creed, Rocky's opponent, and the shark in “Jaws,” he says those “characters” are actually underappreciated heroes and unrecognized saints of sorts, he said. 

Your host

Like other events sponsored by Amherst Live, the “High-Brown Drive-In” is “an excuse to address the community, to welcome the people, to share enthusiasm with people, and to have fun,” Broudy said.

The stories Amherst Live shares are a way to give people from the local community a platform and a voice, Skolfield added. 

Past Amherst Live events are available to view on their website. (www.amherstlive.com). They are presented in a magazine format with guests sharing stories ranging from personal experiences to discussions on community issues.  

“I’m a huge believer in local culture,” Broudy said. “It’s the way we get to know ourselves and I feel like things go wrong when we don’t know ourselves.” 

“The economists are always saying to buy experience; a motorboat is not going to make you happy. Therefore, you should come to the show.”

Now, about that limo

Those who purchase the “Poetry & Prosecco Package” will be squired to the theater in a limousine, in the company of poets, and served a glass of Prosecco wine.

Or, you can drive your own car or carpool with others.

“High-Brow at the Drive-In” will take place July 7 at the Northfield Drive-In, 981 Northfield Road, Hinsdale, New Hampshire.

General admission tickets cost $13 in advance, $15 at the gate (if available).

The Poetry & Prosecco Package costs $50, in advance only.

Regardless of your ticket choice, meet at Amherst Regional Middle School, 170 Chestnut St., Amherst, parking lot at 6:30 p.m., for a 6:45 p.m. departure.

Doors open at 7 p.m., with the event commencing at 7:45ish. The first movie will begin at dusk.

In addition to lawn chairs and bug repellent, bring refreshments and, perhaps, a sweatshirt.

To purchase tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/highbrow-at-the-drive-in-tickets-25556132079.




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