Arts & Culture | WAMC

Arts & Culture

In a collaboration devised to meet the challenges posed by the global health pandemic, the 2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival season will be the first-ever complete theatre season released by Audible, the world’s largest producer and provider of original spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks.

The 2020 WTF Season on Audible is being produced in an audio-only format safe to elevate, entertain, and transform audiences from the comfort of their homes. While this season is different, it is being made with the spirit of invention that has long been a hallmark of the Festival.

The new work looks to transport you into the world of Blanche DuBois in 1940s New Orleans, into a hotel in Thailand where Kina prepares for gender confirmation surgery, onto Tori McClure’s rowboat as she rows solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and so much more.

To tell us about it – we welcome Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director of WTF.

Audrey Kupferberg: The City Without Jews

Sep 15, 2020

The City Without Jews, an Austrian silent feature film from 1924, has been rediscovered and restored.  It is available for home viewing with a musical score on Blu-ray and DVD through Flicker Alley.  The title is a shocker, especially coming several years before Hitler’s rise to power and well more than a decade before the Holocaust.  But anti-Semitism didn’t originate with the Nazis; it’s ages old.  In this story, the Jewish population is expelled from a fictional version of Vienna.  The head councilor is warned ahead of time, “Abandon your project!  Inhumanity doesn’t make for good politics.”  Now, to my mind, that is a warning that has never grown stale.

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Earl Show

Sep 12, 2020
Linda Mussmann, founder of Time & Space Limited with her portrait by Earl Swanigan
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

I didn’t know Earl Swanigan. Apparently, I’m one of the few people who frequents Hudson, NY who didn’t. Earl, an artist and local presence who died last year, is the subject of a major retrospective that runs through the end of October at Time and Space Limited, an arts organization in Hudson. He’d probably be described as an outsider or naïve artist, one who’s self-taught.

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WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel go with the halfback option on this week's show.

Audrey Kupferberg: Guest Of Honour

Sep 10, 2020

Atom Egoyan is a popular and prolific Canadian filmmaker.  He has been a favorite with audiences at the Toronto Film Festival for more than twenty years.  He had a critical and box-office success as far back as 1994 with a thriller about strip clubs called Exotica.  His top-rated film is 1997’s The Sweet Hereafter about a bus crash in a small town. Yet browsing through his filmography on the Internet Movie Database, I note that a good number of his films received mixed reviews and rather low audience ratings.

The Woodstock Film Festival is announcing its 2020 lineup of screenings and events that will be held virtually and at area drive-ins, including a pop-up drive-in at Andy Lee Field in Woodstock.

The 21st annual festival is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 4. This year's festival will be a "reformatted virtual edition," due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with in-person screenings limited to drive-in venues in Woodstock, Greenville and Poughkeepsie.

Festival Executive Director and Co-founder Meira Blaustein joins us this morning to tell us more. 

Arlo Guthrie and Alan Chartock.

Some of the most hard hit folks in this pandemic are those in the arts. Theaters, concert halls, and many cultural offerings are suffering great financial hardship without an audience to attend in person. That also goes for the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

The Guthrie Center at the Old Trinity Church was founded by Arlo Guthrie to honor the legacy of his parents, Woody Guthrie and Marjorie Mazia-Guthrie. The Guthrie Center seeks to cultivate cultural preservation, promote educational achievement and foster community outreach to meet the ongoing needs of the community. However, since the pandemic began, the Guthrie Center has struggled to keep up financially.

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WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel kick off their 10th season by looking back on their 10th episode.

Rogovoy Report 9/4/20

Sep 4, 2020

The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include a Broadway cabaret, roots-music, folk-rock, art openings, literary events, plus a whole lot more.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Mountain

Sep 3, 2020

Arthouse films are a different breed from most mainstream films.  They often stress style and and creativity over straightforward story-telling.  Since arthouse films are independent productions, the filmmaker usually has the final word about every detail of the movie.  There are no studio staff and moguls to dictate changes to affect marketing.

  Berkshire Theatre Group presents “An Intimate Performance with Brian Stokes Mitchell” on September 5 at 8 p.m. at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.


Stokes is a Tony Award winning actor whose Broadway credits include “Ragtime,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “Man of La Mancha,” and “Shuffle Along.” Television credits include Trapper John, MC and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Glee, Mr. Robot, Billions, and The Good Fight - among many others.

He is serving his 16th term as The Chairman of The Board of The Actors Fund and is a co-founder of the Black Theatre United Coalition.

The Growth Of Virtual Entertainment

Aug 30, 2020

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The learning curve of creative people never ceases to amaze.  Six months ago, when live entertainment, including theater, shut down, I never thought I’d be writing about how well new material can work on Zoom, and other digital platforms.

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WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel mark the "end" of summer.

Rogovoy Report 8/28/20

Aug 28, 2020

The weekend’s cultural highlights in our region include spaced-out funk, 20th century classical, dance, visual artists, show tunes …. plus a whole lot more

2020 At The Mount

Aug 28, 2020
The Mount
Sarah LaDuke

The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, Massachusetts, was awarded a $300,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities earlier this summer. The grant was a lifeline, funding humanities-related programs and staff positions through December 2020.

The award allowed The Mount to expand its roster of online literary conversations and reopen the historic house museum, in compliance with the current Covid-19 safety guidelines.

Susan Wissler, executive director of The Mount, joins us now.

Storm Lever and Alexandra Silber in "The Hills Are Alive"
Daniel Rader

PITTSFIELD, Mass. -  If you are interested in spending a summer evening the way we remember it, take a ride to Pittsfield, Mass. to experience “The Hills Are Alive” at Barrington Stage Company.   What was until recently, a simple night of song is now a luxury.  Sitting under a comfortable tent listening to young, gifted theater artists performing a 70-minute concert featuring some of the best music ever written for the world of theater is now unique instead of being commonplace.

The Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s 15th annual Festival of Books turns Virtual this year. Labor Day weekend and beyond, there will be online conversations with distinguished authors, special book sales, children’s drawing workshops, and even familiar flavors from the Cookbook Café. Get ready to settle into a comfortable chair with your laptop or tablet, and enjoy this beloved cultural event of all things literary, 2020 style. All programs will be on Zoom. Registration is required and free, but limited. 

David Highfill is the co-chair of the festival and he joins us now to tell us more.

Adirondack Theatre Festival Producing Artistic Director, Chad Rabinovitz, is here to tell us about their entire season of interactive virtual experiences beginning next month through February 2021.

The first ever of its kind, these experiences include a from-your-couch cruise, hands-on-insane magic shows, a holiday talent show with live voting, an interactive hunt for a criminal, a film festival, and a “wine and canvas” night gone wrong.

The full season of performances will be branded as IN THE BOX ENTERTAINMENT presented by ATF. All shows will include a box mailed to the ticket holder prior to the show which will fuel their at-home experience.

Audrey Kupferberg: "Honeyland" And "Woman At War"

Aug 25, 2020

Just when you think that documentary films have tackled every possible storyline, one pops up to bring new light to a subject and geographic site yet relatively unexplored.  Such is the case with the highly-praised, feature-length documentary called Honeyland, a film of such quality that it is to-date the only movie to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and Best International Feature Film. Many thanks to my friend, Everett Aison, artist and filmmaker, for pointing me towards this title, which is available for home viewing. 

Shakespeare & Company and Cherry Orchard Festival are co-presenting the Arlekin Players Theatre’s "State vs. Natasha Banina," a live online interactive art experiment directed by Igor Golyak, winner of the 2020 Elliot Norton Award for best director and featuring Darya Denisova, winner of the 2020 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Actress.

"State vs Natasha Banina" began as an online experiment from Golyak's living room and became an overnight international sensation, bringing in virtual audiences from around the globe and garnering a New York Times Critic's Pick.

The live performance will be projected on the big screen at the Berkshire Drive-in at Shakespeare & Company’s campus, 70 Kemble Street in Lenox, MA. It can also be watched from home on ZOOM.

Justin Townes Earle
Joshua Black Wilkins

Singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle has died at the age of 38. The death was announced family in a social media post on the late musician's Instagram feed. 

Known for this old-soul roots blues and modern Americana, the Nashville native is son of singer and actor Steve Earle. 

We spoke with Justin Townes Earle in 2010 before a concert in the WAMC listening area and the release of his album "Harlem River Blues."

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WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel swap seats for an "apt" quiz.

Rogovoy Report 8/21/20

Aug 21, 2020

The weekend’s cultural highlights in our region include roots music, folk-rock, contemporary classical, comedy, the songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein, plus a whole lot more.

John Waters is an iconic filmmaker, actor, and author whose credits include "Pink Flamingos," "Hairspray," "Crybaby," "A Dirty Shame" and best selling books including "Role Models, and "Carsick."

His new book is just out in paperback. It's called "Mr. Know-It-All." It's a collection of essays where Waters reflects on everything from overcoming unexpected respectability to becoming a rebel in the autumn of your years.

Landing on Joy Photograph: Elm and locust logs, flour  5’x7’x3’

Mimi Czajka Graminski is a multi-disciplinary artist working in a variety of media - sculpture, installation, drawing, painting, photography, video. Her work is wide ranging, but is consistently based in the exploration of materials, light and color. She joined us to discuss her current work and creativity during Covid-19.

Jonathan Biss (man sits in a sparcly decorated room)
Benjamin Ealovega

For the past decade, Jonathan Biss has immersed himself in the music of Beethoven, especially the piano sonatas, solidifying his place as one of the renowned interpreters of the composer’s music.

With his original performance at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center having been curtailed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Biss has carefully curated a special program recorded live from his home in NYC that is exclusive to the Saratoga Springs audience. He will guide viewers through an exploration of Beethoven’s prolific sonatas for solo piano including a performance of two of his favorite works as part of SPAC's Beethoven 2020 celebration.

Beethoven 2020 At SPAC

Aug 19, 2020

Saratoga Performing Arts Center announces the continuation of SPAC REIMAGINED with a virtual Beethoven 2020 festival, which will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth.

Highlighting the virtual festival are special events including an exclusive Beethoven recital with pianist Jonathan Biss (8/21), the World Premiere of "Testament" (8/22), a theatrical production in collaboration with Saratoga Shakespeare Company, and more.

Elizabeth Sobol is president and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

BTG's Godspell, 2020
Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware

PITTSFIELD, Mass.  - “Godspell,” which is produced by Berkshire Theatre Group in Pittsfield, Mass., through September 4, is the first professional live performance of a musical presented in the United States since March.

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WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel try to pass the "test."

Sarah LaDuke (Mustard by Paul Gallo)

Albany Symphony’s Dogs of Desire has launched “Hot, w/Mustard,” featuring 10 extraordinary emerging composers from across America, who have been putting some sizzle into the end of summer with thrilling new works. The composers, who are some of today’s most exciting new artistic voices, created short works for Dogs of Desire, the Symphony’s genre-bending 18-member new music ensemble. “During difficult times, music is a source of inspiration, hope and comfort,” according to Maestro and Artistic Director David Alan Miller – who joins us this morning.