Sunday, May 5, 2013

Windham students featured in Sprout Film Festival by Michelle Libby

Tuesday night, six Windham students performed in a 17 minute play titled “Showtime” at One Longfellow Square in Portland. The most unique part of this play was that the lead actress, 14-year-old Windham resident Joanne Haibon, has Autism. 

Spurwink presented the Sprout Film Festival 2013. The festival showcased a number of films and forms of entertainment related to autism, Asperger’s syndrome and intellectual disabilities. 

“Spurwink is a leader in caring for friends and neighbors in our community with developmental or behavioral disabilities. We are excited to be partnering with Sprout, a New York non-profit, to present the 2013 Sprout Touring Film Festival,” Spurwink said in a press release. 

The film that featured Windham High School students was written, produced and directed by Spurwink staff and was shown for the first time Tuesday. “Showtime,” starring Haibon and a 23-year-old woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, “is the story of Abigail, a young girl with a history of making things up at school. She is drawn into a surprising adventure while on a class field trip. Ultimately, Abigail must choose between telling the truth and honoring a secret.”

Haibon and her friends had to audition for their roles. Haibon has experience on the stage, often acting in Windham Center Stage Theater performances and most recently with Schoolhouse Arts Center in the play Willy Wonka. She has never had a starting role, according to Laurie Shepard who directed Willy Wonka. Shepard’s son, Andrew, was also in the film. 

“He thinks it’s a wonderful cause,” Shepard said. “Joanne doesn’t get cast as leads in plays because of her disability,” said Shepard, but stated that she was amazing in “Showtime”. Most of the filming took place at the State Theater in Portland on one Saturday. Haibon had to film for three days, said Shepard. 
“Showtime” was the longest film presented. The other local entry was “Thriller”, a reimagining of Michael Jackson’s 1984 Thriller video.

Other screenings were held in Augusta and Lewiston.

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