The past comes to life again with the screening of three classic silent movie comedy shorts on Founders Day — Saturday, July 20 — at 7 p.m. at the Old Town House, 128 Town House Road/Route 235. Union Historical Society will present pre-1923 short features from the silent film era and Doug Protsik, director of the Maine Fiddle Camp and member of The Old Grey Goose, will play the non-stop piano accompaniment from an original score.

The annual Silent Movies at the Old Town House is a re-creation of 1920s America, with an audience of all ages eagerly watching the silver screen from the antique deacon's bench seating.  The Old Town House, built in 1840, adds a special ambiance with its rounded ceiling, antique quilts, raked stage, tongue-and-groove paneling and vintage movie posters, hidden away behind the screen.  Protsik's showmanship completes the atmosphere as he plays music themed to the on-screen action on the building's honky-tonk piano. Protsik is a silent movie fan for whom playing mood pieces to suit each scene of the movie is a little bit of heaven.

With a varied background in classical, folk, old-time and dance music, Protsik fell naturally into his role as the "heir" of the late Danny Patt who, at age of 11 and for years thereafter, accompanied silent movies at the Old Town House in the 1920s. Using Patt's techniques, and aided by research into 1920s standard works like Erno Rapee's "Motion Picture Moods for Pianists and Organists" and J.S. Zamecnik's "Sam Fox Moving Picture Music," Protsik creates his own scores. Other research resources are Internet silent film sites and what Protsik describes as the fabulous silent movie music collection of the Bagaduce Music Lending Library in Blue Hill. His enthusiasm for silent movies has led to work composing and recording original scores for silent film restorations for Turner Classic Movies cable network. He performs for silent movies at international film festivals including creating and performing an orchestral score with musicians in Turkmenistan as part of Old Grey Goose International.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but donations to help with maintenance of the historic building will be gratefully accepted.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.