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News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 29, 2022
ISLE Theater Company announces Downeast Speaks
“What is your biggest secret?”

ISLE Theater Company announces Downeast Speaks, a new community storytelling event, to be presented live at the Reach Performing Arts Center in Deer Isle on Friday, October 7, at 7 p.m.

Directed by Debbie Weil and Marvin Merritt IV, Downeast Speaks reimagines the popular Island Women Speak, conceived by Weil in 2017, to include storytellers of multiple gender identities and generations from both Deer Isle-Stonington and the Blue Hill Peninsula. Seven storytellers from seven towns will answer the question that many hesitate to ask but are ever-curious to know: “What is your biggest secret?”

“Downeast Maine has always had a strong storytelling culture,” said Merritt, the founding artistic and executive director of ISLE and generational islander, in a press release. “Debbie and I are excited to provide a platform for these seven unique voices.”

The seven storytellers are: Torsten Magnus Peterson, 23, Sedgwick; Alexander Turanski, 27, Penobscot; Johnson Boyce, 31, Deer Isle; Carla Guenther, 47, Stonington; Sarah Pebworth, 57, Blue Hill; Sophie Spurr, 71, Brooksville; and Jon Wilson, 78, Brooklin.

In August, Merritt directed the original medieval-period comedy Playing Mercury at Horsepower Farm in Penobscot. The production brought together nearly 700 people over eight evenings.

Weil, an author and writing coach with more than 40 years of experience, has directed five iterations of the original all-women event. “We all know that living in a small community means keeping some things under wraps. To hear a diverse group of storytellers ‘bare it all’ will be so inspiring,” Weil said.

“It’s our hope that, through this event, we’ll get to know our neighbors better and bring all of our communities closer together,” said Merritt.

Tickets may be purchased at