ANDES SPROUTS PRESENTS A DOWN RENT WAR GATHERING AUGUST 19, 2011 HUNTING TAVERN, ANDES, NY
An evening dedicated to exploring the lively history of the Catskills’ Down Rent War. The program will take place at the Hunting Tavern in Andes where some of the actual events of the War took place. The evening will include an informal reading of portions of The Calico Indian Insurrection a film script about the 19th century rebellion written by Ernest Larsen. Larsen is the author of the Edgar-nominated novel Not a Through Street, a widely-published media critic (The Nation, Art in America, Jump Cut, etc), and the writer/producer of many award-winning experimental films and videos screened at international festivals and two Whitney Biennials. Ulster County’s Academy Award winning actress, Melissa Leo will read one of the parts.
Larsen has said this about his film script:
Fantasy, history, and the history of fantasy intertwine and strengthen one other in this story: the farmers, inspired by the Boston Tea Party and their own imagination, decide to organize anonymously and clandestinely in small tribes, a brilliant organizational move– they adopt Indian pseudonyms ( like “Big Thunder ‘) and dress up, disguising themselves (both cross-race and cross-gender in 1840!)) in red-dyed sheepskin masks (fitted out with horns and antlers) and women’s calico dresses and even adopt a fake-Indian patois so that no one should be able to identify their faces, their bodies, or their speech patterns.
As fantasy-Indians, in calico skirts, the Anti-Renters let loose a playful and generalized spirit of unchecked transgression that influences even the Patroon van Rensselear’s family in the end—infecting Amy, the still young frustrated wife of the overly-formal new patroon, Stephen.
Included in the evening’s events will be tin horn music and a recital of Down Rent songs. The Down Rent War took place on both sides of the Hudson River. The evening’s program will present short clips from a video by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor, Branda Miller, about Big Thunder and the Down Rent War east of the Hudson in Columbia County.
Thanks to The Hunting Tavern, a project of The Andes Society for History and Culture, a not for profit educational corporation established in 1975 for the purpose of promoting the history of Andes and the surrounding area and to provide diverse educational and cultural programming. It is located in the historic village of Andes, NY in the heart of the Catskill Mountains.