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North Georgia Arts Update

by Don Martin ~ August 18th, 2008

If you don’t live in North Georgia, you might be surprised to learn that there is a thriving arts community that encompasses all the kinds of activities and programs one might find in a large urban or suburban area.

There are multiple groups of artists, musicians, sculptors and, yes, even Thespians.   I have been associated with local little theater group, The Tater Patch Players, for several years and one of the real joys of being in business in the community is having the opportunity to help sponsor some of their many events. This year I had the privilege to sponsor the entire year of quarterly poetry readings and they have all been outstanding.  On September 17th, the Players, under the capable guidance of director Carl Japikse, presented an afternoon of humorous poetry entitled ” Hijinks & Tomfoolery.

The cover is shown immediately below  and following the cover is a great review of the program.  The final program of the year will be A Christmas Wassail and I will be sure to get the information up on the site well in advance of the performance dates.  You won’t want to miss it.

See you ’round the mountains,


Hijinks & Tomfoolery






Hijinks & Tomfoolery


 Tater Patch Charms Crowd

             With Silly Hats, Fun Poems

Tears of laughter and peals of merriment flowed copiously Sunday afternoon at the community center of the Chamber of Commerce, as the Tater Patch Players presented “Hijinks and Tomfoolery.”

The highlight of the afternoon was Samuel Wesley’s “Pindaric on the Grunting of a Hog,” delivered by Nan Nawrocki. Nan recited the satiric paean while holding a stuffed piggy dressed in an elegant eyelet christening gown. When she came to the line, “Harmonious hog! Warble some anthem out!” the audience roared with delight.

Supporting Nan was a chorus composed of Bob Countryman, Jim Puhger, and Carl Japikse wearing pig noses and chanting the epode, or commentary on the ode. They gave the poem an aura of dignity that emphasized the absurdity and frivolity of its message. The poem ended with a loud grunt, not a whimper.

Hijinks and Tomfoolery” was the third show this year in the new series, For Better or Verse-dramatic readings of great poetry. This show was devoted entirely to presenting comic poems of absurdity and jollity.

One of the most comical moments of the show was near the end, when 5-year-old Adeline Fitts delivered the shortest poem in the English language, a verse by Stanford Gillilan commonly titled “Fleas:”


           Had ’em.

Adeline teamed with her sister Emily to deliver the short poem, “The Purple Cow“-and its sequel-also to the delight of the audience. Another youngster, Sydney Rumble, was outstanding with her delivery of “The Modern Hiawatha.” A second set of sisters, Lauralei and Pasha McCarver, presented “Gasbags” and “Nose Hair Splittings” with panache and drollness.

Among young adult presenters, Tia Robertson-who played the part of Helena so superbly in A Midsummer Night’s Dream-read Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” with a delightful menace of ferocity and then performed Oliver Herford’s poem “A Bunny Romance” with just the right touch of timidity.

Jernigan Baughman made his debut in a Tater Patch production with a stirring rendition of a Rudyard Kipling poem about Potiphar Gubbins, C.E. Jake Marshall drew laughs with his delivery of Oliver Goldsmith’s “Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog.”

The children and young adults also combined with hilarity and grace on a number of poems, with each performer reading a separate stanza. Lewis Carroll’s “The Mad Gardener” was especially effective read in round robin style.

Ellen Painter, a veteran of earlier poetry shows, led off the madcap afternoon with a exquisite reading of Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussycat.” She pulled out all the stops with one of the more curious poems of the show, “The Feast of the Monkeys” by John Phillip Sousa.

Christy Stewart, the mother of Pasha and Lauralei, made her debut with Tater Patch with polished performances of W.S. Gilbert’s “The Sorcerer’s Song,” “Inhuman Henry,” and “Rebecca.” All of the performers wore silly hats for the show. Christy’s dazzling day-glo pink hair complemented her pitch-black witch’s hat perfectly.

In addition to being part of the chorus backing up Nan, veteran poetry performer Jim Puhger was both sardonic and hilarious as he embraced the philosophy of “Contentment” by Oliver Wendell Holmes and retold the tragicomic story of the undoing of “Lord Lundy,” by Hilaire Belloc.

Jim joined Carl, Tia, Jake, and Bob Countryman in the poem “The Prayer of Cyrus Brown” by Sam Foss-in which it was determined that the best attitude for praying may very well be desperation.

In addition to stealing the show with the hog, Nan Nawrocki thoroughly enchanted the crowd with her performances of T.S. Eliot’s “The Naming of Cats” and Lewis Carroll’s “Father William.”

The climax of the show was a rousing rendition of “Casey at the Bat” by Bob Countryman. Bob dedicated the reading of the poem to the hapless Atlanta Braves, and transplanted the traditional “Mudville” to “Ludville,” where he lives. Although Casey strikes out, Bob hit a home run.

Bob was also at the top of his form delivering “Barney McGee” by Richard Hovey and “A Capital Ship” by Charles Carryl.

The show was hosted by court jester Carl Japikse. He also performed Edward Lear’s “The Dong with a Luminous Nose” and selections from his book, The Ruby Cat of Waldo Japussy. Enlarged illustrations from the book-the work of local artist Nancy Maxwell-were held up by cast members for the audience to view as Japikse read the verses they depicted.

The next show in the For Better or Verse series will be “A Christmas Wassail,” which is scheduled for late December. The entire season of For Better or Verse is sponsored by Don Martin of Torrey Mountain Properties.

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