Frantasia grows into top experimental performance festival

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Dale Cavanaugh gives some of the background behind his songs prior to performing at the Frantasia Festival of Out Music & Arts in Livermore Falls last year. This year's festival is Aug. 17-19 at Fitness Stylz in Livermore Falls.

By Barry Matulaitis, Staff Editor

LIVERMORE FALLS — The Frantasia Festival of Out Music & Arts is an elite gathering of internationally renowned experimental artists, but without the elitism.

“There’s dialogue. There’s an opportunity to collaborate with other musicians,” said Frantasia founder Fran Szostek. “People come from all over. They like it because it’s different.”

The festival, which takes place Aug. 17-19 at Fitness Stylz on Depot Street in Livermore Falls beginning at 7 p.m. each evening, features 41 performers doing everything from music to dance, with some comedy thrown in. Some of the performers come from outside of the U.S., while others are based in Maine.

Szostek recalled Frantasia’s early days, starting in 2004, when a handful of performers would gather at his Bryant Pond camp under the stars. He said as the festival grew, his recruiting also expanded.

“Initially, it was by meeting someone and inviting them up,” he said. “After that, I started meeting people at festivals in New York City, Chicago, and Boston. Now, I don’t do much recruiting. People who’ve performed tell other people about it.”

Dale Cavanaugh gives some of the background behind his songs prior to performing at the Frantasia Festival of Out Music & Arts in Livermore Falls last year. This year’s festival is Aug. 17-19 at Fitness Stylz in Livermore Falls.

(File photo)

Szostek reflected upon the most rewarding aspects of Frantasia for him.

“I think they (performers) learn a lot from each other,” he said. “They come here and it’s a different atmosphere.”

Part of the fun is the social aspect. Many of those taking part stay with Szostek and his wife, Kathleen, drinking coffee on the porch in the mornings and enjoying their surroundings. Some of them will walk around town. All of them come away from it with new ideas and perspectives on experimental performance.

“People hate to leave,” said Szostek. “It’s that kind of love that makes it happen in a great way. Just seeing people smiling and progressing.”

He added, “In our life we work, we make money. But the real thing is what do we do for others.”

Szostek is grateful to Fitness Stylz for hosting the event. He noted that the venue was perfect because performers could utilize several spacious rooms and didn’t have to go up or down stairs to get their equipment in.

“Bringing this kind of entertainment to a small town is a special thing,” he said.

For more information, go to www.frantasiafestival.com or check out Frantasia on Facebook.

Next week, interviews with several of the performers will be featured in the Advertiser.

bmatulaitis@sunmediagroup.net

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