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State of the Arts

Published November 21, 2007 at 2:08 p.m.

GREAT APING The recent documentary My Kid Could Paint That chronicles the strange case of a 4-year-old whose parents sold her abstract paintings to the tune of more than $300,000. Thetford writer Bob Nutt takes that scenario a step further in his screenplay Beau's Art, in which the title character is an "artistic orangutan" so talented that human painters tussle for the chance to pass his work off as their own. Luckily, this story is fiction - and played for laughs.

Nutt, a staff writer for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, won the first annual Screenplay Competition organized by White River Indie Films, a nonprofit that also puts on White River Junction's annual film fest. The judges who chose Beau's Art included Upper Valley creative types such as filmmaker Nora Jacobson. Nutt's screenplay will get a staged reading from local actors on Friday, November 30, at 7:45 p.m., at Revolution on Main Street in White River Junction. The event is free . . .

Sometimes a few big awards are all it takes to push a novelist from the "respected but obscure" category to the New York Times bestseller list. Arlington writer Brad Kessler may not be there yet, but his public profile certainly rose this October, when he received two national honors. At an Ohio ceremony featuring Nobel-decorated Elie Wiesel, Kessler got the second annual Dayton Literary Peace Prize for his novel Birds in Fall, which envisions how a multinational cast of characters would interact after surviving a plane crash.

That same month, Kessler was announced as one of 10 annual winners of the 2007 Whiting Writers' Award, which fuels the careers of "emerging writers" with a check for $50,000. (Another Vermonter, Kirsten Bakis of Whiting, snagged one of the prestigious awards in 2004.) Kessler is currently working on a piece of nonfiction. Look for him on your local shelves . . .


Last week the increasingly tech-savvy Champlain College announced its latest innovative major: digital filmmaking. The new Bachelor of Science degree allows students to focus on four genres - narrative/dramatic, documentary, experimental or industrial/educational. Its co-directors are Karen Klove and Nancy Kerr. The filmmaking program joins other hip curricula in electronic game development and multimedia design and broadcasting . . .

Where's the wisely witty Mark Twain when you need him? Next week, he'll be in Essex Junction. On Wednesday, November 28, the Brownell Library presents "Mark Twain Talks: Advice to Humanity." Of course, "America's greatest humorist" isn't exactly taking the stage - he died in 1910. In his place is Bern Budd, an impersonator based in Marshfield, Mass., who's been traveling with his one-Twain show since 2002, according to his website, Budd revisits some of his character's famously self-deprecating lectures in "Advice to Humanity," offering instruction on stealing, swearing and lying, and warning against jumping to conclusions. Oughta send this man to the State Department. Budd/Twain's 7 p.m. show is free. Info, 878-6955 . . .

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About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.


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