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SARATOGA SPRINGS – Home Made Theater (HMT) is celebrating the holiday season with “Miracle on 34th Street.” This play is based upon the Twentieth Century Fox motion picture and is adapted by Mountain Community Theater from the novel by Valentine Davies. The show, with underwriting support by Saratoga TODAY, is suitable for the whole family. The play will run weekends from December 11 to 20 at the Spa Little Theater in Saratoga Spa State Park.

“Miracle on 34th Street” follows a white-whiskered, kindly old man calling himself Kris Kringle who seeks to remind a little girl and her skeptical mother that the holidays are still a magical time of humor, generosity and faith in the goodness of others. When Kris Kringle is accused of being insane, a young lawyer defends him and proves that at Christmastime, anything is possible.

The cast of “Miracle on 34th Street” includes Patrick Quinn as Kris Kringle, Laura Graver as Doris, and Tom Durkin as Macy. Durkin is well known as the legendary Saratoga Race Course announcer from 1990 until 2014. While he has a long history in broadcast, Durkin is getting back to his theater roots from his college years.

The ensemble of 28 cast members is rounded out by a pool of talented local actors of every age. The play is directed by Laurie Larson.


Performances are on December 11 and 18 at 7:30 p.m., December 12, 13, and 20 at 1 p.m. and December 19 at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for children age 12 and under. For reservations or more information, visit homemadetheater.org or call HMT at 518-587-4427. 

Thursday, 03 December 2015 16:25

SCT Releases First CD Just in Time for Holidays

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Children’s Theatre is taking its young performers to a whole new level with the release of their first CD, “A Better Sweater Christmas.” The CD, which features over a dozen Christmas favorites sung by the talented kids at SCT, will be released at their Ugly Christmas Sweater Party on Sunday, December 13 at 3 p.m. at Saratoga Music Hall, located at 474 Broadway.

“We had a lot of fun working on it,” said Kelsey Dodd, 8. “This is my first CD and my first year of SCT shows. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so exciting!’”

At the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, the kids involved in making the Christmas CD will be performing their songs live, including “The 12 Days of Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,” “Silent Night,” and many more. There will be food, beverages, a silent auction, and holiday fun the whole family can enjoy, including a special visit from Santa Claus himself. Guests are invited to wear their craziest, ugliest Christmas sweater.

“A Better Sweater Christmas” CD will be on sale at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party for $15.

SCT will also be announcing their summer season at the Christmas party, such as its camps for kids, juniors and teens that will be taking place next year. For anyone that loves SCT’s outstanding shows and performances, this is an announcement that cannot be missed.

“I’ve never done anything before with SCT; I’m shy and I get scared easily,” said John Gerardi, 9. “Working on the CD allowed me to step out of my shell. It was also a great experience to be able to work with a legendary producer.”

The CD was produced by Grammy award-winner Joel Moss, who has worked on several major motion pictures such as “Fatal Attraction” and “Chicago.” He has also produced for The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joe Cocker and The Eagles. The kids visited his recording studio in Greenfield Center, and for many of them, this was their first time ever in a real recording studio.

“Hearing myself singing was so weird, but fun! I’m so glad I’m getting a different experience,” said Alice Kaplan, 16, who sings “It Came upon a Midnight Clear” on the CD. “I’ve been acting in shows for 11 years and this was the first time something like this was offered to me—it’s so cool.”

Kaplan also explained how the CD incorporates kids of all ages, as SCT’s shows are usually segmented by age groups, and how great it was to work with the younger kids.

“This was the best collaborative experience I have ever had. If you want to improve as a performer, you have to try new things. Working on the CD and on my singing was a different aspect of performing. You just have to keep doing it until you’re confident,” said LJ LaFiura, 13. “I can’t wait to see the audience’s reaction, to see them having fun and enjoying it.”


Tickets to the Ugly Sweater Christmas Party are $10 for adults, $5 for kids 13 and under, and kids under five get in for free. If you can’t make it to the party to pick up your “A Better Sweater Christmas” CD, it will also be available in select stores and online. To buy tickets to the party or for more information, please visit saratogachildrenstheatre.org. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The science world and the art world converge in the new exhibit “Under the Microscope: Biology and Art,” which is premiering at Spring Street Gallery, located at 110 Spring Street, on December 10. This project will present an assortment of beautiful images produced with high-powered microscopes, giving access to the tiny universe all around us that usually only scientists get to witness. .

“Under the Microscope” involved collaboration between Spring Street Gallery’s director, Maureen Sager, and biologist Dr. Abby Grace Drake. Many of the biologists/artists involved in the project are students at Skidmore College including Isabella Gaw, Perri Keehn, Berke Tinaz, and Wenhui Zhao, as well as UAlbany graduate student, Amanda Andreas.  I spoke with two of the artists in the project, Emily Singer, a senior at Skidmore studying biology, and Chelsea Fujimoto, a Skidmore alumnus, who shared their insights on the exhibit and how biology and art are more related than we think.

Q: Why is it important to connect biology and art in “Under the Microscope”?

A: “I believe that biology and art are completely intertwined and that the natural world gives us so much beauty to appreciate. By observing biological phenomenon, I believe we are observing the art of nature’s process.” – Emily Singer

A: “Artists and scientists are both trying to gain a measure of understanding, to see the world through a new lens and reveal new perspectives. Research is, in a way, a form of self-expression. I think sometimes people don’t realize that research requires a measure of creativity. I think this exhibition is a great way of communicating to the general public how biologists see their work – there is beauty to be appreciated in the images themselves, but also in understanding the science behind them.” – Chelsea Fujimoto

Q: How were the images captured and printed? What was the process like?

A: “The images were captured using a merging technique, where I took two pictures of the same cell that was focusing on different labeling with different lasers (one red, one green). I then overlaid the images together. The colors then appeared together and made the cell whole, since where one color was absent the other was usually present.” - ES

A: “Something that people say a lot about microscopy is that you have to enjoy spending long hours by yourself in a dark room – and it’s pretty true. I’ve imaged specimens under three different microscopes:

conventional fluorescence, confocal scanning laser microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The first two are in color, and the last is in black and white because it uses electrons instead of light. Since electrons travel faster than photons (which are responsible for visible light), they provide better resolution and allow us to see even small structures. Often, the loss of color is worth it for the increase in resolution. The last photography studio on Skidmore’s campus was actually in the science building, not the art building, because for a long time, digital photography just couldn’t match the resolution of the microscopes, and film and photo paper gave a sharper image.” – CF

Q: Why are you passionate about this project? Why should people see it?

A: “I am passionate about this project because there is a whole microscopic world that most people will never have the opportunity to see. I have been lucky to work with a professor who is very talented at microscopy and has taught me about different technologies that allow us to observe this microscopic world and see how it translates into the larger world around us, giving me more to appreciate and more art to see in biology.” – ES

A: I’m passionate about the project because I feel so strongly about the connection between art and science. I think it’s unfortunate that a lot of science is viewed as inaccessible to the general public. I’m 100% behind work that makes our research more accessible and understandable. What I’m really hoping is that people viewing the exhibit will be struck with that childhood sense of wonder that sparks you to want to know more about something. I hope that when you see these images and think about the captions, you feel the same kind of reverence for biology as I do when I take a step back and look at the bigger picture of life on this planet.” – CF


“Under the Microscope: Biology and Art” opens on Thursday, December 10 at Spring Street Gallery, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. that is free and open to the public. The artists will be at the reception to talk about their work. The exhibit will run until January 29. 

Thursday, 03 December 2015 16:05

Winter Restaurant Week Returns for 11th Year

SARATOGA SPRINGS –The 11th Annual Saratoga County Winter Restaurant Week is set to take place Friday, December 4 through Thursday, December 10. This year, over 50 restaurants are participating in the event.

Saratoga County Winter Restaurant Week is a seven day celebration of culinary creativity presented by the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau and Driscoll Foods in collaboration with local restaurant owners. Winter Restaurant Week allows dining patrons an opportunity to enjoy a three course, prix-fixe dinner for $10, $20 or $30 (plus tax and tip). Several restaurants are also offering lunch specials for $5 or $10.

During Restaurant Week many lodging properties are offering special rates for hotel rooms so diners can create an overnight package and experience more than one great dining venue.

“We are proud to partner with Driscoll Foods, and all of our sponsors, to bring back Saratoga County Winter Restaurant Week for its 11th year,” said Todd Garofano, President of the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau. “With such a diverse offering of dining experiences available, visitors and locals alike can choose from over 50 participating restaurants throughout Saratoga County. With several area hotels offering special rates, visitors come from all over the northeast to dine, stay and shop Saratoga during this popular week.”

Winter Restaurant Week Participants:

$5 Lunch:


Four Seasons National Food Store & Cafe

Izumi Asian Bistro & Lounge

Park Side Eatery

Saratoga 5 Points Market & Deli

$10 Lunch:

The Barrelhouse

Comfort Kitchen

Gaffney’s Restaurant

Lillian’s Restaurant

Mingle on the Avenue


Park Side Eatery


Sweet Mimi’s Cafe

Thirsty Owl Bistro

$10 Dinner:

Park Side Eatery

$20 Dinner:

62 Beekman

Alaturco Mediterranean Grill

The Barrelhouse

Boca Bistro

The Brook Tavern


Chianti Il Ristorante

Crown Grill

Diamond Club Grill at Embassy Suites

Druthers Brewing Company

Forno Bistro

Harvey’s Restaurant

Hattie’s Restaurant

Jacob & Anthony’s American Grille

Karavalli Regional Cuisine of India

Lillian’s Restaurant

Limoncello Ristorante


Mingle on the Avenue

Mouzon House


Olde Bryan Inn

One Caroline Street Bistro

Pasta Pane



Scallions Restaurant

Three Vines Bistro

Wheatfields Bistro & Wine Bar

$30 Dinner

Fifty South

Gaffney’s Restaurant

Inn at Saratoga

Jacob & Anthony’s American Grille

Lillian’s Restaurant

Mouzon House

One Caroline Street Bistro

Prime at Saratoga National Golf Club

Putnam’s at The Gideon Putnam


Thirsty Owl Bistro


Wheatfields Bistro & Wine Bar

Wishing Well


For more details about Saratoga County Winter Restaurant Week and for the list of lodging promotions, visit DiscoverSaratoga.org/RestaurantWeek or call the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau at 518-584-1531. 

Thursday, 03 December 2015 16:00

Saratoga Film Forum on Hiatus

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Film Forum has made the announcement this week that the non-profit will be taking a hiatus for a few months from its usual program and schedule.

Several factors were involved in making the decision to take the break. Attendance to the films was down significantly this fall, and has been steadily declining since the opening of Bow Tie Cinemas. The primary expenses, such as theater rental, movie rental and projection, are such that the Film Forum doesn’t break even unless about 135 people attend a film each weekend, which was nowhere near the attendance seen over the last two seasons.

“Our attendance was more than not good, it became really low. Unnaturally low. We’re trying to dig into that in addition to other factors in the film industry,” said Carol Maxwell, President of the Board at Saratoga Film Forum. “New films are going straight to Netflix and to other venues. It has a lot to do with the economics of the film distribution business.”

Another aspect is that the Film Forum is having trouble booking films because film distributors want them to be “open-ended engagements,” meaning the show must be on-going and able to run indefinitely.

“We’ve been taking a look at different formats, and we would have done it smoother and in a more gradual way, but we’ve been forced to address it front and center. Our goal is finding a niche that will be the most beneficial for the Film Forum and our audiences,” said Maxwell. “We know deep down there is a lot of interest in quality films that you just don’t get to see at the multiplexes.”

In order to better understand what the community wants, Maxwell is going to talk to many different people to get their take on the Film Forum and its future. She hopes to talk to loyal patrons of the Film Forum, as well as people who have never been there or used to go but then stopped going.

“This is a big town and a growing town so this is a great time to find out more about the community’s media habits and the emotions surrounding those habits. We’re trying to find out where we could connect with them,” Maxwell said.

The Film Forum may be taking a hiatus from business-as-usual but they will still be holding special events at least monthly. The goal is to make the events more enhanced through speakers and other activities. Recently, the Film Forum has initiated “meet the filmmaker” nights, which gives audiences the chance to ask questions and talk to the directors and producers directly.

In terms of the future, Maxwell is planning on more cross-collaborations with other organizations. For the release of Harper Lee’s latest book, “Go Set a Watchman,” the sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Film Forum collaborated with Northshire Bookstore for a popular event that brought the two organizations together.

After she has a thorough, open dialogue with community members, Maxwell hopes that the Film Forum will be back to its usual programming by late spring.

Maxwell concluded positively: “Tell readers I said ‘We’ll see you soon.’”


For more information about the Saratoga Film Forum, visit saratogafilmforum.org or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you would like to share your thoughts, opinions or ideas about the Film Forum and its future, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Monday, 23 November 2015 17:03

Jakes Help from Heaven Fundraiser at Cantina

SARATOGA SPRINGS – December 2 is the 5th annual Jake’s Help from Heaven day at Cantina, located at 430 Broadway. The owners of Cantina, Jeff and Heath Ames, will generously donate 50% of all lunches, dinners, drinks and takeout to JHFH. This event is around the anniversary of when Jake Straughter passed away in 2010. Jake’s parents, Heather and Brian, and his older brother Ethan will be there to welcome guests and show their appreciation to the community.

“Jake's Help from Heaven is very special to us,” said Heath Ames. “We were lucky to know Jakey and are honored to remember him this way. And what Brian and Heather have done in Jake's memory, helping so many local individuals with disabilities, is truly amazing." Heath Ames, owner of Cantina.

Since 2011, JHFH has been dedicated to supporting individuals with severe medical challenges through advocacy, research and support services. Their goal is to assist children and their families affected by debilitating illnesses including neurological impairments, mitochondrial and genetic disorders, and pediatric orthopedic problems.

"This day has become so special for Brian, Ethan and I as it allows us to not only raise money for Jake's Help from Heaven but to celebrate Jake's life,” said Heather Straughter, Jake’s mom. “It will be five years since Jake passed and this event allows us to focus on the positive and for that we are grateful to the Ames family, the staff of Cantina and the community.”


For more information about the Cantina fundraiser or Jake’s Help from Heaven, visit jakeshelpfromheaven.org. 

Monday, 23 November 2015 16:55

20th Annual Festival of Trees

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It’s the most wonderful time of the year at the Saratoga Festival of Trees, beginning on Wednesday, December 2 through Sunday, December 6 at the Saratoga Springs City Center.


This fun family event and craft fair puts everyone in the holiday mood. Walk amongst over 250 beautiful twinkling trees, wreaths, centerpieces and other holiday items for visitors to purchase or simply admire. Money raised at the festival will go toward Catholic Charities, which provides services for the community through family counseling, group homes, hospice care and mentoring programs for children.

“The Festival of Trees is the largest fundraiser for Catholic Charities. This anniversary is a reminder of an event that has been making a difference for 20 years,” said Julia Ingersoll, communications specialist at Allegory and committee principle for the Festival of Trees. “The festival is so sentimental and celebratory. It’s an excellent cause, especially at Christmastime. You can never be a Grinch if you go to the Festival of Trees.”

This year, over 100 volunteers have collaborated to make the Festival of Trees as beautiful as it has been for two decades. Businesses, families and individuals donate Christmas trees to the festival, which are then decorated, usually with a theme. For example, the Wesley Community’s decorated tree is called “Old Fashioned Christmas.” People can then buy the fully decorated trees and have them delivered to their home or office.

For the children, Santa will be making a stop at the Festival of Trees, along with Rudolph and Frosty. On Saturday, family day at the festival, families can have breakfast and sundaes with Santa. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Catholic Charities at 518-587-5000.

Guests are able to be the first to choose from the hundreds of trees, wreaths and centerpieces at the preview reception on Wednesday, December 2 at 6 p.m. Food and drinks will be provided by Olde Bryan Inn and Longfellows. Tickets to this exciting preview party are $75 and $60 for those under 35. Call 518-587-5000 for reservations.

Festival of Trees Schedule:

Wednesday, December 2

Preview Reception

Reservations required.

6:00 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Tickets: $8 Adults | $5 Seniors | $3 Children over 10 | Children under 10 are free

Special Ticket Price After 6 p.m. (During Victorian Street Walk) All Adults $3 | Children under 10 are free

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Hours 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets: $8 Adults | $5 Seniors | $3 Children over 10 | Children under 10 are free

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

Family Day

11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets: $8 Adults | $5 Seniors | $3 Children over 10 | Children under 10 are FREE

Breakfast with Santa - Seating at 8, 9:30, and 11 a.m. - $8 per person

Sundaes with Santa - Seating at 12:30 p.m.  - $8 per person

Santa's Workshop - 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  - Admission is free ($1 per activity)

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tickets: $8 Adults | $5 Seniors | $3 Children over 10 | Children under 10 are free


For more information about the festival or to make reservations for the preview reception or breakfast and sundaes with Santa, call Catholic Charities at 518-587-5000. 

Monday, 23 November 2015 16:51

Thanksgivings Past

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Have you ever wondered how Thanksgiving has changed over the past few decades?  Many things have stayed the same; football and turkey seem to be classic traditions that aren’t going anywhere. But those that have experienced several generations around the dinner table have their own stories to tell about Thanksgivings gone by. I visited Woodlawn Commons, apartments for older adults in the Wesley Community, to hear from seniors about Thanksgivings of the past. Their stories remind us to enjoy each and every moment with loved ones and to be thankful for each passing year, no matter what age we are.


“We had eight children and lived in Ballston Spa. We had a guest family that would join us each Thanksgiving because they didn’t want to travel all the way to Buffalo for the holiday. After we had them over several times, my daughter asked, ‘How come we’re always the host and we’re never the guests?’ I said, ‘Well, because there are so many of us!”

We never got together for Thanksgiving when I was little. My dad worked late shifts at work, so Thanksgiving was never a big deal in our family. But my children just loved Thanksgiving. We always had three types of pie, pumpkin, apple and mincemeat. It was a tradition that you had a piece of each one. You could never narrow it down to just one piece.

We had a huge table, but I never believed in having a kids table. They’re all in the family; you can’t send them out to Siberia just because they’re younger. Right from the very beginning they always sat at the big table and the other family would just mingle in. My kids liked to be the host, it made them feel important.”

 – Betty McCanty


“I was born and grew up in Minnesota, but I left there when I was eighteen because I was drafted into World War II, and I never lived there again. The town that I lived in, a little farm town with just 1500 people, had two lakes within walking distance and a river that ran through town. I’ve always believed God created Cambridge, Minnesota to show little boys what heaven was going to be like.

I lived in a house with my mother, father, sister, grandmother and my aunt. My uncle also lived with us because he suffered with meningitis when he was younger and never fully recovered. My great-grandfather, who was from Sweden, got too old and eventually had to sell his farm. After that, he came to live with us too. My other aunt and my uncle from Minneapolis, along with their two children, always spent the weekend with us, including Thanksgiving. Sleep for us, the young children, was often on blankets and pillows in the living room. And we loved it. It was never a problem for us.

This was all during the Great Depression. We had a traditional roast turkey with all the fixings. When dinner time came, adults ate in the dining room and the kids ate at the kitchen table. We couldn’t have been happier.

Fortunately, the uncle from Minneapolis had a full-time job as chief engineer. They had the money to take care of having a nice Thanksgiving. We had very little. My father ran a small gas station, but didn’t make enough for us to live independently. My mother, besides taking care of the whole family, she had a full time job as a cook. That’s how we got through the depression. We didn’t have a car until 1940. It’s hard for me to relate these things because it’s so different than it is today. If I sound in any way that we were deprived or missing out, it’s just not true. We were deprived of money, but other than that, it was a good life, a charmed life.”

 –George Moline


“I’m from Delaware and we always went up to New Jersey to my aunt’s house. I loved going there. My brother and I were the only children really. I just liked listening to the adults. They were always telling such interesting stories.

My aunt was a wonderful manager. She would direct all the women in the kitchen, ‘You do this’ and ‘You do that.” Meanwhile, she was out having cocktails! She got everybody going and then she just had a ball drinking with the men.

My funniest Thanksgiving though was when I was all grown up. One of my nephews always did the gravy. He’s pouring the gravy and says, ‘What are these black things in it?” I knew right away. They were bugs! There was all this gravy with cooked meal worms in it. In the other room the men were saying, ‘Where’s dinner?’ ‘Just a minute!” we called back. We had no idea what to do until someone comes up with the idea that we should strain it. The only strainer we had was a tiny tea strainer. It took a half an hour to spoon the worms out. In the end, there wasn’t even a cupful of gravy. When we got to the table, everyone kept asking, ‘Aren’t you going to have any gravy?’ We just said ‘No, we’re dieting.’ We’ve never forgotten that one.


-Doris Lamont 

Monday, 23 November 2015 16:43

End Exploitation at Fair Trade Expo

SARATOGA SPRINGS –Locals will have the opportunity once again to join the fight against worldwide poverty while doing holiday shopping at the second annual Saratoga Fair Trade Market Expo on December 5 at Universal Preservation Hall.

The Fair Trade Market Expo is an easy way for the community to skip the crowded malls for a day and lend a hand to artisans in the developing world, giving them the opportunity to earn an honorable loving for themselves and their families. Everything on sale at the market has been made under fair trade conditions, meaning the artisans and producers received fair compensation for their labor, enjoyed safe workplaces and created their goods using environmentally friendly practices.

On December 5, the market opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. This year’s market will feature several vendors with roots in Saratoga Springs, including Mango Tree Imports, The Bosnian Handcraft Project, AOET Uganda, The Giving Circle, Healthy Living Market and Drilling for Hope.

Some of the unique projects that shoppers will see are hand-poured beeswax candles, Ugandan jewelry, wood carvings from Guatemala, and Mayan hand-woven textiles such as scarves, bags, table linens and ornaments. There will be handmade quilts from Vietnam, baskets and handbags from Africa and Asia, sweaters, slippers and jewelry from Bosnia, plus much more. There will also be a scavenger hunt all day with prizes for kids.

Universal Preservation Hall is located at 25 Washington Street in Saratoga Springs.


The Fair Trade Market Expo is hosted by the Bosnian Handcraft Project and New Life Fellowship of Saratoga. For more information, call Mary Jo Kowalewski at 518-587-4785. 

Thursday, 19 November 2015 15:54

Translating for National Geographic

SARATOGA SPRINGS –Jesse Bruchac, Native American author and Abenaki language teacher, has just finished one of his biggest projects yet. Bruchac, who lives in Greenfield Center and grew up in Saratoga, was asked by National Geographic to be the translator for their new two-part special, “Saints and Strangers.”

“Saints and Strangers” tells the story of the pilgrims on the Mayflower, and follows their first year settling in America, as well as their interactions with the native people. National Geographic, wanting this show to be as realistic as possible, included the Eastern Algonquian language Western Abenaki, a language similar to what the pilgrims might’ve heard spoken by the Native Americans.

Today, only about a dozen people speak Western Abenaki in the world, making Bruchac’s contribution to the show that much more remarkable. Though Bruchac is very busy with the premiere of “Saints and Strangers,” he took some time to answer questions about his latest venture and share what his experience was like.

“Saints and Strangers” premieres on Sunday, November 22 at 9 p.m. and concludes on Monday, November 23 at 9 p.m. on National Geographic.

Q: How did you become involved with National Geographic? How did it feel?

A: I was contacted by email about the project less than a week before filming was scheduled to begin in South Africa after the first Wampanoag language consultant fell through. They asked if I could do the job of both translating nearly two hours of dialogue into the Western Abenaki language and act as Dialect Coach, teaching it to over a dozen actors on set for two months.  I felt I was up to the task, but realized it was a monumental endeavor!  I felt it was an amazing opportunity that I could not pass up: to share the Western Abenaki language I have worked over 20 years to revitalize, to help bring an essential level of authenticity to the film, and to build awareness about the ongoing struggle to maintain the diversity of Native American languages across the country. 

Q: What does it mean to you to be a part of this show?

A: It was life changing in many ways.  The cast of incredible actors I got to work with were totally dedicated to honoring the language and doing it right.  My main focus was the language, but I found myself involved in many aspects of the film, including offering four original Native chants, which I created while on set.

Q: What was the experience like? What was the average day filming like?

A: It was hard to be away from my family for two months, but it was an incredible opportunity I felt I had prepared my entire adult life to tackle.  It turned out to be a true adventure in ways I'd never imagined, and just being on a set of this magnitude and seeing how everyone worked, and being an integral part of it was incredible  Each evening I worked translating the script, running lines with the actors and preparing for the next day’s work.  We shot in several locations around the incredibly beautiful South African country side, and on both the Indian and Atlantic coasts.  Our days often started before dawn.  The producers ensured that the language was always given time to be done right.  However, I still worked tirelessly to make sure the actors were ready and confident to deliver their lines and their characters through the language.

 Q: Plans for future?

A: I hope this exposure will spark interest in others to learn their own languages.  I also hope it will grow our existing language revitalization of Abenaki across New England and at the Ndakinna Education Center in Greenfield Center where we offer monthly immersion camps in Western Abenaki.  The more people learning the language the more likely it will survive.  I plan to get back to my work in this direction, with a pending DEL (Documenting Endangered Languages) grant already in process. I will also return to my research into making more previously unavailable documents written in the language available to all those who can benefit from them.  For those who can't attend immersion camps, I also will return to my work maintaining and building new content for westernabenaki.com, a free online language learning portal I've been running since 2005.


If future film projects emerge, I will certainly consider them carefully, as I do see this platform as one of the best ways to spread and preserve the language and to have the largest and longest lasting effect, but only if it’s done with the level of integrity and attention to detail as “Saints and Strangers” afforded us.  

Page 5 of 13


  • Saratoga  County Court Lorenzo J. Parker, 28, of Schenectady, was sentenced to 2-1/2 years in a state correction facility and 1 year post-release supervision, after pleading to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth-degree, charged February 2022 in Clifton Park.  Annmarie Balzano, 54, of Ballston Spa, pleaded to felony DWI, charged June 2023 in Malta. Sentencing Sept. 19.  Cedric D. Sanchez, 28, of Yonkers, N.Y., pleaded to attempted burglary in the second-degree, charged in Milton. Sentencing Aug. 2.  Matthew G. Peck, 46, of Saratoga Springs, pleaded to felony DWI, charged November 2023 in Milton. Sentencing Aug. 16.  Lacey C.…

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