Between 1880 and World War II, painted theater curtains were artistic features of most New England villages and towns. In Vermont, painted curtains graced stages in town and grange halls, opera houses, and community theaters. A culture of local variety shows and traveling, professional talent flourished in front of those curtains in some very remote Vermont communities.
In a tour of some of the 177 curtains in Vermont, Christine Hadsel, director of Curtains Without Borders, provides a glimpse into the world of talented and often sophisticated artists who were part of the rural cultural scene, illustrating the rich cultural history of small-town Vermont before World War I.
About the Presenter
Christine Hadsel, Director of Curtains Without Borders, was the first Executive Director of the Vermont Museum and Gallery Alliance. In 1996, she procured a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to search for Vermont’s historic stage scenery. As of 2018, she and her term of conservators have restored all 191 painted curtains in Vermont, with Tunbridge Town Hall to be finished up in 2019. The scale of work ranges from the elegant grand drape at the Haskell Opera House to advertising curtains at the smallest Grange and town halls. In addition, she has documented hundreds of painted curtains in New England and beyond. In her illustrated talks, she addresses the cultural, historical and artistic value of one of Vermont’s great public treasures – it’s collection of painted theater curtains.