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Commentary & Opinion

Rogovoy Report for August 8, 2014

Half a dozen friends who met at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2008 decided to put on a show. No, this is not a joke. The next thing you know, they form a theater company - a grassroots, low finance, but high-tech troupe that stages original stories based on traditional forms like fables and myths, using time-tested theatrical devices including shadow screens, puppetry, flashlights, and original live music performed by the actors. Their productions simultaneously reveal the craft that goes into the staging while casting a spell on audiences, and they get rave reviews in the nation’s top newspapers. I’m talking about The PigPen Theatre Company, whose play with music, “The Old Man and the Old Moon,” is at the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, now through Sunday, August 17. As one of the actors says, “if you’re thinking of coming to see this, then come see it.”

Author and environmental journalist Elizabeth Kolbert, best known for her 2006 book “Field Notes from a Catastrophe,” and for her articles in the New Yorker magazine, was sitting around talking about the extinction of species with her artist friends Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris, as that’s the topic of her latest book, “The Sixth Extinction.” The discussions grew into a site-specific installation at MASS MoCA in North Adams, put together by all three of them, called “Eclipse,” which goes on view Saturday. The exhibition examines the story of the passenger pigeon, whose once-massive population disappeared 100 years ago, basically shot to death by humans. Eclipse combines video, sound, and text to create an immersive and contemplative exhibition in a newly conceived exhibition space: a dramatic light well at the center of the MASS MoCA campus.

Bringing a contemporary variation on the traditional coming of age story, David Roussève/REALITY performs its latest dance-theatre work, "Stardust," at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, tonight through Sunday in the Doris Duke Theatre. The 80-minute multimedia piece explores the world of a young, gay, African-American man through choreography, video projections -- including unanswered text messages sent by the work’s protagonist -- original music by hip-hop fusion composer d. Sabela grimes and classic songs by Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Johnny Mathis.

Authors Andre Dubus III, Joanna Rakoff, Scott Stossel, and Jennifer Finney Boylan will take part in “Touchstones,” a new interview series at The Mount in Lenox, featuring celebrated journalist Kate Bolick in conversation with leading writers. The one-hour conversations will take place on four successive Friday evenings at 6, beginning tonight with Andre Dubus.

The Boston Duo, a husband and wife team of Boston Symphony violinist Tatiana Dimitriades and pianist Jonathan Bass, inaugurates the 2014 season of the Music & More chamber series at the historic Meeting House on the Village Green in New Marlborough on Saturday at 4:30. Making its festival debut, the duo will perform a stylistically varied program of sonatas by Beethoven, Schumann, and Prokofiev.

And listen up jazz fans, hard-driving modern jazz trio, the Bad Plus joins forces with dynamic saxophonist and improviser Joshua Redman for a unique program at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, tonight at 8. The Bad Plus, led by former Mark Morris Dance Company music director and pianist Ethan Iverson, initially gained fame for its innovative jazz versions of modern tunes by rock bands including Blondie, Nirvana, the Bee Gees, Radiohead and Queen. It also tackles pre-rock standards and Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Joshua Redman carries on the post-bop tradition of the likes of Sonny Rollins and his own father, Dewey Redman. Together, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman, as they call themselves, attempt to steer the music to a new place altogether.

I’m Seth Rogovoy, and that’s the Rogovoy Report for this weekend.


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