This week’s cultural highlights in our region include a new short play festival; a rock guitar legend; a performance combining Greek mythology and ritual; and a whole lot more.
Berkshire Playwright Lab’s annual Radius Playwrights Festival, featuring fully-staged readings of six short plays by local writers — defined as anyone within a 50-mile radius of Great Barrington – takes place this weekend at St. James Place in Great Barrington, Mass., starting tonight at 7 and continuing on Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. This year’s plays are by Marty Bongfeldt of Northampton, Anne Undeland of the Berkshires, Christopher Liberati-Conant of Chatham, N.Y., Kara Krantz of Sturbridge, Mass., and repeat playwrights Joe Starzyk and James McLindon.
Fans of 1990s indie-rockers Spin Doctors will be flocking to the Barn in Egremont, Mass., on Saturday night, when that group’s singer-guitarist Eric Schenkman celebrates the release of his new solo album, “Who Shot John?,” with his rocking trio consisting of Van Romaine on drums and Andy Hess on bass.
In 2015, artist Maurice Pops Peterson debuted his “Reinventing Rockwell” photography series, featuring works that reimagined iconic Norman Rockwell paintings through a modern-day lens attuned to the ongoing struggle for civil rights and racial equality. Peterson’s work is currently represented in the international tour, “Reimagining the Four Freedoms,” curated by the Norman Rockwell Museum, touring throughout the U.S. and Europe now through 2020. The Hillsdale, N.Y.,-based artist will appear in the Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s Conversations with Neighbors series in “Reinventing Rockwell: An Afternoon with Artist Pops Peterson” on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Imbolc Riverfire, a multidisciplinary installation that engages ancient folk traditions and rituals not usually shown in a contemporary art context, will take place at Basilica Hudson this Saturday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Led by installation and performance artist J. Patrick Doyle, the event, featuring over 50 performers, is described as “an Eleusinian festival of fire and light inspired by the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. The installation follows the metamorphosis of Demeter into different forms as she searches for her daughter, Persephone, who has been abducted by Hades, god of the underworld, and taken beneath the Earth to be his bride. In the installation, Persephone appears in the form of a giant anthropomorphic shape that approaches the performance ensemble at the center of the Main Hall and leads the group in a final movement of music, dance, and pageantry, welcoming and celebrating the arrival of spring – quite an optimistic artistic leap in the midst of the polar vortex now occupying the greater region.
Looking ahead, in coming weeks, we have a lot to which to look forward, including the 10x10 New Play Festival at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, from February 14 through March 10 – featuring ten new 10-minute plays. Indie pop group Car Seat Headrest performs at MASS MoCA on Friday, Feb 15. Modern dance troupe Pilobolus performs at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington on Saturday, February 9, and a special concert devoted to the music and humor of Papa Haydn -- part of the Close Encounters with Music series – comes to St. James Place in Great Barrington on Saturday, Feb 23. And the Orchestra Now will perform works by Wagner, Tchaikovsky, and Richard Strauss next weekend in the Fisher Center at Bard College.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com