Maudslay Arts Center’s Silver Jubilee
The Maudslay Arts Center is celebrating its 25th season this summer. MAC, which is part of historic Maudslay State Park in Newburyport, features a performance stage and a rebuilt dairy barn that people can rent for weddings and other special events.
MAC guests will celebrate the jubilee with performances by artists such as The Bobby Keyes Trio, the Hillyer Festival Orchestra, Donna Byrne and the Hal McIntyre Big Band. The summer music series runs through Aug. 27 and boasts a wide range of genres, from opera to jazz to Americana.
While visiting MAC, be sure to check out Maudslay State Park — 442 acres of meadows, woodland trails and flowering bushes. The extensive paths provide photo-worthy views of the Merrimack River, with seagulls and sailboats spotting the horizon. Stone walls, gravel carriage roads lined with hemlock trees, old arched stone bridges and beautifully preserved early-20th century houses adorn the landscape. The large meadows are perfect for picnics, and the grounds are suitable for horseback riding, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
The park also hosts regular cultural events. Theater in the Open has been performing free plays and pantomimes in the park for more than 30 years. These performances connect art with nature and help theater come alive in a natural setting.
“Seeing live theater is always a treat, but seeing it live and in nature, that’s something different,” says Bonnie Cartwright, who lived on the Maudslay State Park grounds for a decade and acted as the matriarch and live-in caterer for Theater in the Open. “The sites are chosen carefully with the play in mind, and it always adds to the show.”
Theater in the Open will be performing “Antigone” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Maudslay this summer. The theater group will also host Family Hour in the Open in July and August, giving children and their parents a chance to learn through storytelling, song, dance, fairy-tale theater and group activities.
While wandering the grounds, you may run into one of the various tour groups or events the park hosts. Weekly afternoon strolls and historic tours of the farm complex and root cellar are just some of the programs the park has held in the past. There’s also a junior ranger program. Donna Sudak, a park interpreter who helps visitors understand Maudslay State Park’s history and culture, says the evening strolls are among her favorite programs.
“Every week we’re exploring a different trail, and I never know what we’ll see,” Sudak says. “[On a Wednesday in May], we were walking over the three arch bridge and there were two large snapping turtles, so that was a highlight of the walk. It’s a way for people to get exposure to the trails in a social atmosphere.” The July and August event calendars are still in the works.
Another evening program is the Firefly Foray, which is open to both children and adults. Participants can catch and learn about fireflies before releasing them back into the woods of Maudslay.
Here’s a tip. Whether you’re listening to music or enjoying a hike, make sure to watch the skies. The park is home to a number of American bald eagles, and a section of the trails are closed in the winter to allow them safe nesting. Sharp eyes might pick out their nests where the park meets the banks of the Merrimack. Spotting one of these magnificent birds would be an excellent way to celebrate MAC and what it represents to the community and our region.
Maudslay State Park Association