GREENVILLE — “We try to reimagine things here,” Dwight Grimm said.
He and his wife, Leigh Van Swall, run the Greenville Drive-In off Route 32. It functions as a drive-in theater, a community space and a beer garden.
But this weekend, the drive-in will go back in time to celebrate typewriters, typography, and what Grimm calls the art of physical correspondence.
The QWERTY: Festival of Type and Letter Arts runs from Friday, June 23, to Saturday, June 24.
It features documentaries and short films about the art of typography, typewriter vendors, typewriter poet performances and a performance by the Boston Typewriter Orchestra.
This is the second year of the festival, although last year it was only one day.
“The first year we ran it, we thought we’d be lucky if 12 people showed up. Over 100 people showed up,” Grimm said.
It turns out, a lot of people are into the old-fashioned typewriters.
“What was so compelling was the diversity of people who came,” Grimm said. He expected the festival to attract mostly older adults, but there were almost as many kids and young adults.
“We even had one kid, who was maybe 10 or 11, use his entire allowance to buy a typewriter,” Grimm said.
Many of the typewriters are brought in by Erik Molbach of Chatham. He’s a typewriter enthusiast and gave Grimm the idea to start a festival in the first place.
“There’s more of us around than you might think,” Molbach told Grimm a few years ago, and with the festival’s popularity last year, it seems Molbach is right.
For Grimm, there’s something about the art of physically writing a letter that’s been lost over the past few decades. The process of sitting down, typing and mailing out a letter is something that Grimm, along with many other festival goers, still cherish.
Thus, there will be typewriters available for people to write a letter (or just a note) to a friend or family member and the U.S. Post Office is setting up a booth to mail the letters out right from the drive-in.
For those not into letter writing, there will also be unique typewriter performances.
The Boston Typewriter Orchestra will be bringing its typewriters, songs and humor to the drive-in stage for a show that’s as quirky as it sounds. The orchestra consists of Brendan Quigley, Derrik Albértelli, Jeff Breeze, Erik Lindahl and Jay O’Grady. Some are professional musicians, others mostly typewriter lovers.
“It started as a joke in a bar that grew into an idea to create a unique music ensemble. It took a lot of practice before we could get a coherent sound,” O’Grady said.
The orchestra mixes humor, which Grimm compares to “Office Space,” with some vocals and percussive music.
There will also be typewriter poet performances and type-ins, organized by Molbach.
Being that the Festival takes place at a drive-in, the theater will feature three documentaries and a few short films. The first is a viewing of “Helvetica.”
“It seems crazy there they would do an entire documentary on a type set but it’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen,” Grimm said.
The second is a film that’s not set to be released in theaters until August. “California Typewriter” features Tom Hanks, John Mayer and Sam Shepard in the story of how people see the typewriter as a muse. Doug Nichol, the director, might also be attending the festival, however, Grimm wasn’t certain that Nichol would be able to make it when The Gazette spoke with him about the festival.
Regardless, the festival is slated to be a haven for typewriter enthusiasts, writers, cinephiles and musicians alike.
“I think it’s just unusual. We wanted to put something different out there. I mean, there are type-ins but we added to it,” Grimm said.
Festival goers are encouraged to dredge their old typewriters from the depths of their attics and bring them to the drive-in. For the typewriter-less, or for those who are hoping to add some to their collection, there will also be vendors selling typewriters old and (relatively) new.
QWERTY: The Second Annual Festival of Type and Letter Arts
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. – 10:15p.m., Fri. Jun. 22, 3:30- 11 p.m. Sat., Jun. 23
WHERE: Greenville Drive-in, 10700 Route 32, Greenville
TICKETS: $10 for Fri., $15 for Sat., $20 Festival Pass
QWERTY: The Second Annual Festival of Type and the Letter Arts Schedule
FRIDAY: JUNE 23
- 6:30 p.m. Gates and Snack Bar open
- 7:00 p.m. Cocktails in the Projectionists Club Biergarten
- 7:45 – 8:45 p.m. Live Music in the Projectionists Club Biergarten with Brian Dewan
- 9:00-10:15 p.m. 10th Anniversary Screening of “Helvetica”
SATURDAY: JUNE 24
- 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. Projectionists Club Biergarten type-in hosted by Erik Molbach
- 4:00 – 6:30 p.m. On-Demand typewriter poetry
- 7:00-8:30 p.m. Live performance with The Boston Typewriter Orchestra
- 9:00-10:45 p.m. Screening of “California Typewriter”