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The Sun Journal

A hidden gem, tucked away in the woods of Temple

Driving out Intervale Road it is easy to convince yourself that you may have passed Temple Stream Theater. “Keep going! Just after the little red schoolhouse. Through a tunnel of pines. Smells good tonight!” A cheerful dog walker explained when asked for directions. The little red school house appeared in the distance and soon after passing it, the pines tunneled.

The dog walker was right about the smell, too. The spring air began to take on a smoky scent- a scent of yeast coming alive and dough touching hot stone.

The yard was full of people mingling. People sipping and chewing and talking. Little girls in colorful dresses twirled in the grass and a boy ran around with an elaborately painted cardboard shield. Horns and an accordion made an appropriate backdrop of music, somehow matching the rhythms of Temple Stream.

Mike Romanyshyn, in a white apron and a straw fedora, worked his way into the group of people every so often, hot pizzas in tow, piling them onto the wooden pallets where slices were quickly disappearing.

“It all started with Bread & Puppet. I toured with them for a while. Then my wife and I bought the church in the spring of 1999. We did a lot of renovations that summer and turned it into Temple Stream Theater.” Romanyshyn’s scattered timeline is difficult to follow, but with so many projects under his belt it’s understandable. “I lived in Boston for a while, started a music project in Prague…” he fades off. Romanyshyn has also been experimenting with birch syrup, a practice that has been going on for centuries in Europe and is just recently showing up in the US.  “We started the theater with the idea of a family thing, a place that builds community.”

Glancing around the small kitchen, where six or seven bodies rotate and move around each other, throwing pizza doughs, peering in the brick oven, chopping more mushrooms- it seems as though Romanyshyn has already accomplished his dream, creating a community where there was once just a little stream.

Upside Bakery is a bright and airy place. Located in the building right next to Temple Stream Theater, Romanyshyn and his wife, Susie Dennison, bought the building with the original idea of turning it into a workshop for the theater. It seems like the building found its own niche though, packed with hand built tables and happy stomachs full of pizza. Romanyshyn’s two young boys run around, clearing empty pizza boards, hauling in armfuls of firewood and playing with visiting friends.

“It’s kind of haphazard. Musicians tend to find me. But I’m trying to get more local bands. I’d like to hook up with other small venues like us, make a little circuit for people, just to make it more worth their time driving out here.”

There will be two major events going on this summer. On Friday June 5th at 8pm Bread and Puppet will be performing their show, The Public Access Center for the Obvious Presents: The Situation, with pizza starting at 6:00. Tickets for the show are $15 or $10 for seniors and students. Also on June 28th Sessions Americana, a “folk-rock” group from Boston, will be performing with local band, The Wiles, opening.

This is not just dinner and a show. It’s dinner, an impromptu brass band, a walk down the stream, trying your hand at throwing a pizza dough, staring into the eyes of an intricately painted puppet waiting for its turn on stage, and everybody piling back out onto the front lawn after the show, talking to someone you hadn’t known when you went in. The Temple Stream Theater and Upside Bakery duo is an experience. And it’s well worth the drive.