In the early 20th century we stopped making our own entertainment, said Don Coffey. Radio came onto the scene, then there was television, followed by the computer, the Internet and all sorts of other digital media.
Theres just been less and less incentive for people to make their own entertainment as theyd done for thousands of years.
But Coffey, and lots of other folks in this and surrounding communities, are working to at least keep the ancient traditions alive with old music, instruments, acting, and dance.
The second annual Legends of the Great Hall features all these and will be offered three times next weekend in the gymnasium at Thorn Hill Education Center, 700 Leslie Ave. Performances are Friday and Saturday with the festivities beginning at 7:30 p.m. and the show at 8 each evening, and then at 1:30 and 2 p.m. next Sunday. Tickets are $7 general admission, $5 for seniors, and $4 for students.
Theyre available from cast members or at the door.
Legends was inspired when Coffey and his wife, Sylvia, attended the New York Revels, a large professional production, and then the Madrigal Feast in Bardstown.
We thought there wasnt any reason we couldnt do something like this in Frankfort, said Coffey, who instructs the dancers in the ritual dance. Joining him are directors Karen Kimmel Hatter, acting; John and Laura Penn, English dancer, and Bob Elkins, singers.
The community response to this (Legends) last year was wonderful, Coffey said. It was very successful and we decided to do it again.
Coffey explained that across most of the history of humankind people have celebrated changes in the season, points on the calendar. This event comes on the weekend of winters midpoint, Feb. 4 according to the Almanac.
There are actually eight points, he said, two solstices, two equinoxes, and points midway between each. We celebrate here at midwinter with the promise of warm spring coming.
Coffey said this event is a strong expression of family and community.
In earlier times there wasnt adult and child entertainment, it was all family. The family did everything together as the nuclear unit or as a village.
In this case, Frankfort is the village!
Theres a broad spectrum of age representation from children to seniors. And lots of families are involved everyone in the family, Coffey said.
Show-goers will see a progression of history in the dances, Coffey explained.
The oldest are the ritual dances, followed by the English dances. The evening begins with a Circle Dance celebrating the beginning of the world. And, as we say, its a dance for as many as will.
This is a wonderful opportunity to work with many, many members of our community, said Hatter, a veteran drama coach and teacher. And its great to provide some support for the programs at Thorn Hill.
Last year the event netted about $3,600 for the center.
Ive really had a good time participating in this, she said. All of those in it are dedicated and excited about the event.
We just feel like it (entertainment) is more fun if you do it yourself, said Coffey, especially the dancing. Samples of our folk dance heritage is drawn from the last 400 years and these dances survive to the present because theyre fun and easy to learn.
If they werent then thats a sure fire prescription for extinction!
If you go, youre invited to come in period costume if youd like and expect audience participation to be encouraged.
Theres lots of singing, dancing and other pleasant surprises involving the audience, Coffey said.
At these shows our community can come together to celebrate.