A theatrical holiday weekend at Hubbard Hall


Editor's Note: This article was changed from the original print version to reflect the actual organizer of the revisited "Fiddle Weekend," George Wilson. Also, the founder of children's theater at Hubbard Hall was Allison Caldwell, not Lester Birnbaum.

On Friday night, the arts center held an opening reception to present its new director, David Snider, to the Hubbard community. George Wilson organized a concert that night to revisit an old tradition at Hubbard Hall, the "Fiddle Weekend."

On Saturday, Hubbard Hall held family activities including arts and crafts, workshops, offered food, music, performances and games, including children's theater singalongs, which invited previous students and current families to sing and act out old children's theater shows.

The reunion was organized to celebrate the retirement of Hubbard's director, Benjie White. Now a resident of Montpelier, Allison Caldwell, who was the director for the children's theater at Hubbard Hall from 1990 to 2000, returned for the reunion.

"When I was told that Benjie was going to retire, and they wanted to have a big event this weekend with a lot of things happening, I thought: ‘Oh, we could have a singalong and play some things from our children's theater.' We'll see who shows up, because all of the kids that were in this when I was in it are in their late 20s, 30s," said Caldwell.

A community resident who is active at the hall, Sarah Becker, said she was happy Hubbard had the reunion, and got to visit with some of those who were once a big part of the community.

"My kids graduated from this theater," Becker said. "They came right through and Allison meant the world to them."

Benjie White's daughter, Mariah Sanford-White, is on the board at the arts center and is involved with its children's theater. Her parents met when Hubbard Hall was being refurbished.

"I've been coming to concerts here since I was a week old, and falling asleep underneath the concession table during festivals. So this place really is my home in Cambridge. The wonderful thing about this space is that it has become the home for so many people over so many generations."

Sanford-White said Hubbard is unique because it combines chamber music, theater, dance and whatever new ideas people come up with to start. She said her father started a legacy of letting anybody to Hubbard Hall who has a passionate drive for the arts and inviting fresh perspectives.

"I think David is being handed a beautiful jewel with this institution, and I am really excited to see what he does with it," Sanford-White said.

David Snider and his wife Alexandria Snider moved to the area from the Washington D.C. area between January and April. The director position had been listed in the Theater Communications Group Arts job search since February of 2013.

"I saw the job posting: We had been thinking about moving north," David Snider said. "This was just something that I had been dreaming about. My father is a minister and my mother is a social worker with children and youth, so I've always had a big sense of mission in my life."

Snider views his new role at Hubbard Hall as a way to accomplish his sense of mission. In the nation's capital, he worked in community-based arts programs. He said he looks forward to being a part of Cambridge and raising his own kids in the town.

"To be back in an organization that's focus is about youth and learning for adults and for kids It's an atmosphere, where it feels like they can grow up like Mariah did with her father, Benjie: They can grow up, they can be in the opera and theater shows," Snider said.

Snider said he believes he can bring something new to the table of the board at Hubbard Hall by establishing an online and a media presence. He views his job as a chance to serve the community and listen to residents' needs and continue working with White in making the arts center a cornerstone in Cambridge.

Find Hubbard Hall on Facebook or online at http://hubbardhall.org/ for upcoming events.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg


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