Live Entertainment at CinemaSalem gets [Expletive]

Sh*tfaced Shakespeare at CinemaSalem. Photo Credit: Creative Salem
Sh*tfaced Shakespeare at CinemaSalem. Photo Credit: Creative Salem

I laughed so hard I cried. Seriously.

That was my mantra for days after seeing “Sh*tfaced Shakespeare” at CinemaSalem last month.  Granted, my expectations were not high.  I did not realize that I was holding a ticket to an international phenomenon (okay, maybe not phenomenon, but you get where I’m going with this).  What began in London has spread it’s iambic pentameter wings over to Somerville, and now we are lucky enough to have it in Salem not once, but twice.

If you aren’t doing anything on Thursday, May 5, you should get tickets. You should go.

I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt.

Here’s the premise: A small cast sets out to perform an abridged version of a Shakespeare classic, in this case it will be A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and one of their members is drunk. Bombed. Smashed.  The theatrical experience begins with the narrator showing the audience all of the empty, or half-empty, bottles that have been consumed.  The chosen player is different for each performance, so, in theory, no two performances are the same.

It really was funny, and such a fun take on Shakespeare. Read more about it on CreativeSalem.com.

This is one performance in a new series of live entertainment on Thursday nights at CinemaSalem, so if Shakespeare under the influence isn’t for you, please check out their full calendar.  There are several musical and comedic options on the calendar, including You Have Died of Dysentery, which looks as intriguing as Shakespeare.

“Mortified” joins the Mass Poetry Festival

Mass Poetry Festival in Salem, MA Photo: Creative Salem

Would you stand up in a crowded room and read allowed, into a microphone presumably, from your adolescent journal?  That is what people will be doing during Mortified, a new addition to the 8th annual Massachusetts Poetry Festival, which returns to Salem this weekend, April 29 – May 1.

Admission is $20 and includes readings throughout the weekend, admission to the Small Press Fair, Headline Events, and the Slam on Saturday night (as well as Mortified on Friday night).  Some of the events do have a capacity limit, so check the schedule for details and be sure to sign up for events that you don’t want to miss (at least three events are already considered full as this post is being written, so please check the website).

Mass Poetry Festival in Salem MA April 29 - May 1, 2016

Headliners this year include Sandra Beasley, Charles Simic, Mark Doty, Marie Howe, and Ocean Vuong.

For complete information, and to register online, visitMassPoetry.org and follow the festival on Facebook.

April Vacation is a Perfect Time to Visit Salem!

Come for the Witch Trials of 1692, maritime trade, and The Scarlet Letter. Stay for the culture, art, restaurants, shopping, and New England experience!  Here are a few ideas for how to spend a day or an overnight in Salem this month. For more events, attractions, museums, tours, and Ten Free Things to Do, visit Salem.org.

The Gables Living History Lab

How Salem Kids Used to Live
April 16 – 24, 11am – 2pm
During the upcoming April school vacation week, young sleuths can venture back to that interesting time to see just how kids their own age lived. Living History Labs, an educational program at The House of the Seven Gables, runs April 16 through 24, from 11 am to 2 pm. All activities are scheduled at The Gables, 115 Derby St., Salem, MA. Those interested may call 978-744-0991 for more information.  Learn more 

 Intersections_ 2012  Anila Quayyum Agha  Photo by Peabody Essex Museum

Looking at Patterns
School Vacation Week at the PEM
Pattern, repetition and rhythm are important components of art. Inspired by the PEM exhibition Intersections: Anila Quayyum Agha, explore the patterns in art all around us and create some of your own!  Learn more 

Vacation Week Special

Save $4 when you buy online!
Buy your tickets to the Salem Wax Museum and Witch Village online in advance, and save $4.00 off the Adult Hysteria Pass.  The Salem Wax Museum is a self-guided exhibit about the history of Salem, including Roger Conant’s arrival in Salem in 1626, pirate history, maritime heritage, and, of course, the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.  The Witch Village is an indoor, guided tour through the history of witches.  The Salem Wax Museum is also home to an interactive gift shop, where kids can make grave rubbings for free!  Learn more
The Salem Inn

Make it an overnight
Day trips are dandy but overnights are awesome
Turn your next day trip into a real excursion by staying overnight at one of Salem’s hotels, inns, or B&Bs.The Salem Inn (pictured) has just reopened the 7 rooms and suites in the Peabody House after extensive renovation. The Family Suite is perfect for a brood!  The Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites has an indoor pool and family-friendly packages.  Learn More

This blog post was also an email that you can sign up for.

Fashion and Vision in Salem on Friday Night

Salem Arts Festival Fashion Show Fundraiser

The Salem Arts Festival is going to light up Old Town Hall with a locally-sourced fashion show on Friday night.  Featuring fabulous fashion from local boutiques including Avalanche Company Store, The Boutique, Lifebridge’s Second Chance Thrift Shop, Modern Millie Vintage & Consignments, Ocean Chic Boutique & Waterbar, RJ Coins and Jewelry, Peabody Essex Museum Shop, and TBT Post, the catwalk will be magically Salem, through-and-through.  Even the make-up is local, being done by the artists at Laura Lanes Skin Care, Rouge Cosmetics, and Radiance Lifestyle Salon.  Buy your tickets online before they sell out!

This is a fabulously fashionable way to support the Salem Arts Festival, which will spin into Salem for the first weekend of June.

The Fashion Show is not the only thing happening on Friday night in Salem. Just down Derby Street near a dark house with many gables, there will be a celebration of one remarkable woman by the name of Caroline Emmerton. A special exhibition, Caroine Emmerton: An Unbound Vision, opens at 6pm with a reception.

Caroline Emmerton Exhibit

One of our favorite members of the (unofficial) “Strong Women of Salem” club, this native of Salem would become one of the city’s most productive and entrepreneurial philanthropists. Among her most important accomplishments was the rescue, restoration and repurposing of the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, which we now know as The House of the Seven Gables.

What was once the residence of a prominent sea captain and later the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s cousin Susanna Ingersoll would become The House of the Seven Gables. In a smart and creative promotional move, Emmerton gave the house — Hawthorne’s inspiration for his novel, The House of the Seven Gables — a new name and a worthy purpose. Proceeds from tours of The Gables would support her Settlement House programs to help the city’s immigrant population settle and gain U.S. citizenship. The Settlement work begun in 1908 continues today, thanks to Emmerton’s prescience and persistence.

2016 marks Caroline Emmerton’s 150th Birthday and the celebration begins on April 8 when the exhibit, An Unbound Vision, opens.  For a complete schedule of celebratory events, visit 7gables.org.

The reception at the Gables begins at 6:00 PM on Friday night, and the Fashion Show at Old Town Hall is at 7:00 PM, which makes it just right to take in both events and support both worthy endeavors.  Hope to see you there!

Historic Burying Grounds

Historic Burying Grounds

Charter Street Cemetery. Photo: Jasmine Gordon

Salem has three cemeteries that are significant to the Witch Trials of 1692. The Howard Street Cemetery is said to be where Giles Corey was taken to be pressed to death, a torture chosen because he refused to stand trial. George Corwin, who served as the high sheriff of Essex County in 1692, and his brother Jonathon Corwin, the Salem merchant who lived in the “Witch House” when he served as magistrate during the trials, are both buried in the Broad Street Cemetery. A white obelisk marks their grave.

The Charter Street Cemetery is the final resting place for at least two members of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, including physician Bartholomew Gedney and magistrate John Hathorne, who was the great-great grandfather of writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. Also buried here is Mary Corey, the first wife of Giles Corey, who died in 1684. Giles’ third wife, Martha Corey, was hanged for Witchcraft during the trials.

These three cemeteries, and the Witch Trial Memorial, which is behind the Charter Street Cemetery, are open to the public from dawn to dusk. We ask that visitors treat the graves with respect, and appreciation for their age and solemnity.

Bell and Watson

Illustration of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson by Racket Shreve

Illustration of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson by Racket Shreve

There were a lot of posts on social media this week commemorating the anniversary of Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone call.  I saw an article on Twitter about Ten things to know [about the telephone], and a friend on Facebook posted about the anniversary of the first call, ending with a little-known piece of trivia: “As for the greeting, Bell did not favor the now ubiquitous ‘hello’ but rather ‘ahoy’.”  (I have no source on this other than the Facebook post, but I do consider the poster to be trustworthy in his trivia.)

My immediate reaction was, “Where’s the mention of Salem?”  We all know that Alexander Graham Bell placed the first call from The Lyceum Hall, what today is Turner’s Seafood.  But there was no mention of Salem, which led me to quickly realize our superlatives are all about their qualifiers. So I turned to Jim McAllister and his book, Salem: From Naumkeag to Witch City. I knew he would hold the key.

On February 12, 1877, nearly a year after placing the call to Watson in the next room, Alexander Graham Bell “demonstrated his telephone apparatus to the public for the first time.” There was a crowd of more than 500 paying customers in the Lyceum to hear Professor Bell’s presentation.  McAllister writes, “Bell began with a tribute to Salem’s own Charles Grafton Page, whose experiments in sending musical sounds by electric currents in the 1830s had pioneered the field of telephony. Bell went on to describe briefly his own experiments and the workings of his new invention. Then he used the telephone to instruct his assistant Thomas Watson, who was stationed in their Exeter Street laboratory in Boston, to send an interrupted current followed by the alphabet in Morse code. The crowd was thrilled by the sounds coming through the telephone receiver on the stage, which could be heard even in the back of the hall thirty-five feet away.”

The program continued with Watson playing telephonic organ music, singing, and speaking to the audience at the Lyceum in Salem.  A few select members of the audience were even invited to speak into the new invention.

At the end of the evening, “The telephone at Salem was… turned over to Henry Batchelder, a friend of Watson and a stringer for the Boston Globe. Batchelder used the device to dictate is account of what had just transpired at the Lyceum to a Globe reporter, A.B. Fletcher, who was with Watson in Boston. This was the first time Bell’s new invention had been used to transmit a news story.”

So, there you have it.  The first telephone call may have been made on March 10, 1867, but the first long distance call was placed from the Lyceum in Salem on February 12, 1877, and it was followed by the first time a telephone was used to transmit a news story.

Salem-Rutland-1877-A Want to read more? There’s a story on Poynter.comabout Alexander Graham Bell’s call to the Boston Globe.

The Witch in the Wood

The new feature film THE WITCH was released nationwide today after a series of premiere events that culminated in a fantastic evening of history and horror in Salem last night.  Writer/Director Robert Eggers and star Anya Taylor Joy came to Salem to attend the screening at CinemaSalem in addition to several media events. Eggers and Joy visited The Witch House, attended a reception at the Salem Witch Museum, and answered questions during a panel immediately following the film.

There is a lot that can go wrong with a film like THE WITCH, which is the story of “one family’s frightful unraveling,” set in 17th century New England.  The history, the setting, the dialect, the dialog, the witch could all be horribly portrayed. But they are not.  With painstaking detail, this film gets it all right. It is terrifying and accurate and it transports the audience to a place of, to quote one of the audience members at the Salem screening, “abject terror” that was the reality of 17th century New England.

My visceral reaction to the film aside, the historians in the theater agreed: this film is excellent.  (As one historian said, “So very may films have gotten the history so very wrong, we were all prepared for the worst.”)  If you want to know what the afflicted children went through in 1692, see THE WITCH. If you want to grasp the importance of religion and faith in a Puritan family, see THE WITCH. If you want to feel the fear that pulsated through the family’s farm in exile, see THE WITCH.

Eggers has created a beautiful, haunting film that will stay with me for a very long time, and Anya Taylor Joy is mesmerizing as Thomasin. It was a pleasure having them in Salem for the screening.

The film is in wide release, but we think you should see it at CinemaSalem, of course.

Lots of people are writing about THE WITCH. We really like Brunonia Barry’s perspective, which was posted on Huffington Post: The Tangled, Feminine History of The Witch

2016 Salem Guide is Now Available!

Packed with information about places to stay, things to do, tours to take, food to eat, boutiques to shop, and films to see, the 2016 Salem Guide is free and ready to be requested.2016_Salem_Guide

We are delighted to feature editorial on the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, as well as Salem’s African American Heritage, and Witch Trials Sites in Salem. There is also a fold-out walking map of downtown Salem, the calendar of events for 2016, and information on transportation and getting to Salem.

Visit Salem.org/Guide to request yours and we will send it to you.  The digital flip-book is on its way, and soon you will be able to virtually flip through the Guide’s pages online and in print.

Need more than one copy?  Email us and we would be happy to provide as many as you need for your group tour, wedding, special event, or conference in Salem.

 

Salem on a Budget

This itinerary is part of our Tuesday series of suggested ways to explore Salem. These itineraries are not available as a package, and are only suggested ways to explore Salem. Please contact listed sites for hours, rates, and schedules.  Previous itineraries include: Two-Night Itinerary for a Family, Food, Fish, and History, a Salem Daytrip from Boston, An All-American Trip to Salem, and the Land of Witches and Pirates.

We are in the height of summer, which means we are at our busiest season for family travel. Not every family is looking to spend a king’s ransom on their vacation, and it is certainly possible to see Salem on a budget.  Start out by checking out our list of Ten Free Things to Do, and then consider these attractions, restaurants, and accommodations options. Bring comfortable shoes and get ready to have fun exploring Salem!

DO

Salem Maritime National Historic Site
160 Derby Street, Salem
(978) 741-1650 | nps.gov/sama
Tours of the wharves, buildings, and tall ship Friendship are free at your National Park! You can opt for a self-guided experience, or make a reservation for a timed, guided tour. Stop at the Visitor Center at 2 New Liberty Street to see the free film, Where Past is Present, and learn about the history of Salem and the region.

Salem Museum
Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square
(978) 744-0007 | TheSalemMuseum.org
Learn the hidden stories about the amazing lives that have contributed to the establishment and growth of Salem, Massachusetts.  From Roger Conant’s arrival in 1626 through the Witch Trials, the Maritime Era, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Great Salem Fire, Parker Brothers, and more. You are sure to be surprised by the history here in Salem.

Salem Witch Trials Memorial
Liberty Street between Derby and Charter Streets
SalemAward.org
Symbolically located behind the Old Burying Point, the Salem Witch Trials Memorial serves as a somber place of remembrance for visitors and descendants of those condemned in 1692.

DINE

Boston Hot Dog
60 Washington Street
(978) 744-4168 | BostonHotDog.co
This locally owned gourmet hot dog stand has new ownership in 2014. We like the California Dog and the Slaw Dog, and the kids can’t go wrong with the Kid’s Dog Meal, which includes a small drink and chips.

Essex NY Pizza & Deli
One Museum Place Mall
(978) 741-1383 | EssexNYPizza.com
Serving New York style hand-tossed pizza, Essex’s also has salads, sandwiches, and dinners.

STAY

Winter Island Maritime Park
50 Winter Island Road
(978) 745-9430 | Salem.com
RV and tent camping May 20-November 1. Walking paths of Winter Island, camp and gift store, public beach, historic fort, and Pickedring Lighthouse.

Clipper Ship Inn
40 Bridge Street
(978) 745-8022 | ClipperShipInn.com
Rooms and suites at budget-friendly rates, ample parking, located just outside the historic downtown district.

Be social! Share your Salem with us by tagging #SalemMA or #DestSalem on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We may share your favorite shots!

Elephant on Board

The ElephantI suppose every town has unique and quirky history, but Salem sure seems to have more than its fair share.  Salemites have been involved in so many aspects of American history, including legal process, navigation, trade, literature, education, and abolition.  And then there are the quirky stories that catch our attention – streakers, souvenir spoons, lead pencils, American flags, and elephants.

It is said that the first elephant in America came through Salem in 1796.  She was purchased in Calcutta by Captain Jacob Crowninshield, who was a member of the hugely successful Crowninshield & Sons of Salem shipping company.

The elephant came to America aboard the ship, America.  She was 2 years old and they called her Old Bet. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s father, Nathaniel Hathorne, was apparently an officer on board, and he is credited with writing, “Elephant on Board” in the ship log.

As the story goes, the crew of the America realized quickly after setting sail with this elephant that she was drinking all of the water on board. They quickly switched her diet to beer, and when she arrived stateside she was, well, drunk.  That did not diminish Old Bet’s popularity, though. She was eventually sold to Bailey (of Barnum & Bailey) and taken on tour with the circus. She was exhibited in Salem, Beverly, Marblehead, Boston, and New York.

The promotional poster from Boston has a few gems in its copy: “He eats 130 weight a day, and drinks all kinds of spiritous liquors; some days he has drank 30 bottles of porter, drawing the corks with his trunk,” and “The elephant having destroyed many papers of consequence, it is recommended to visitors not to come near him with such papers.”

Admission to see the elephant cost one quarter of a dollar (children, nine pence).

You can purchase a copy of the Boston Poster at the House of the Seven Gables.  It is a great piece of the whimsical side of Salem history.

Salem.org