Archival image of a Vermont hill farmer

As the first total eclipse in a hundred years appears in Vermont skies, it’s clear what everyone will be doing on Monday, April 8. But what about the night before? Phantom Theater fills the gap with a celebration of rural Vermont featuring film, staged readings, and live music. The last installment in Phantom’s winter collaboration with the Big Picture, “A Hill Farmer’s Story and Other Vermont Tales” comes to the Big Picture Theater and Cafe in Waitsfield on Sunday, April 7, at 7 p.m.



A highlight of the evening is a screening of a short documentary written and directed by longtime Granville resident and recently retired Harwood English teacher, Kate Youngdahl-Stauss. “A Hill Farmer’s Story” is based on the 100-year-old journals of Granville farmer and legendary woodsman, Riley Bostwick. The documentary explores the history of Granville, Vermont, at the turn of the 20th century, and draws similarities between Bostwick’s accounts and the director’s own experience as a farmer, living and raising her family in the area.

The journals had been in the care of Sandy Pierce, an artist in Rochester Vermont, who felt they rightfully belonged in Granville. Pierce reached out to Youngdahl-Stauss and asked if she would be interested in caring for them. A veteran filmmaker with dozens of credits to her name, Youngdahl-Stauss was thrilled.

“As a hill farmer myself and someone who is deeply interested in how rural spaces shape people and how people shape the land, I was eager to see them,” she said.  “Each time I dipped into the diaries, I found something incredibly relevant to my own life. A focus began to form in my mind – how the past maps onto the present.”

Live theater is another element of the program. Longtime Phantom actor Rob Donaldson teams up with Ethan Bowen (Bald Mountain Theater) to perform original poignant and comic sketches about changing times in Vermont.

Singer-songwriter Kris Gruen of Worcester, Vermont, completes the evening. His live performance will be backed by a band of players from Vermont and New York City. Gruen, who has regularly performed internationally as well as on both coasts, recently finished recording his sixth studio album, “In Bloom,” which fully displays his melodic guitar riffs and absorbing lyricism.

“Many of the people involved in the event are farmers or come from Vermont farming families.  It’s a unique opportunity to celebrate the area we’re lucky enough to call home, and to acknowledge the trials, tribulations, and joy of those who came before us,” said Phantom spokesperson Lucas Bates.

A family-friendly show, “A Hill Farmer’s Story and Other Vermont Tales” is down to earth entertainment the night before Vermont’s biggest celestial event. Tickets are online now at Seven Days and will be available at the door. For more information, visit and the