From avant-garde dance to African-American poetry, from Greek myth to Jewish film, from slide guitar to klezmer to Broadway show tunes, the Berkshires has it all and more this weekend. Here are just a few highlights of what’s coming:
Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM (Kidd Pivot), the acclaimed contemporary dance company led by Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite, performs her virtuosic and enigmatic work Dark Matters, a striking mystery thriller told through dance, at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival July 6-10. In Dark Matters, a lonely artist creates a puppet with fateful results. Pite’s choreography lures the audience into a world of fantasy, humor, and dark twists and turns intricately entwined with Owen Belton’s original score. Dark Matters explores the idea of undetectable forces at work in cosmology, the mind and body, and in the creative act itself.
Comedian and playwright Lewis Black’s One Slight Hitch will be presented on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) from July 6 through July 17, 2011. Official opening night is July 7 at 7:30 p.m. A modern day farce that mocks the all-too-human desire to shape our own destiny, the comedy will be directed by Joe Grifasi (A Cup of Coffee at Yale University). Black will also host the first two weekends of the renowned WTF Late-Night Cabaret Series (July 7-9 and July 21-23). Black will also be performing a single evening of his unique stand-up comedy on Monday, July 18 at7:30 on the Main Stage. All proceeds from this event will support WTF’s educational and professional development programs.
PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century and Walking the dog Theater open their fifteen-performance run of Sarah Ruhl’s poetic and witty Eurydice on Thursday, July 7, running through the end of July. This contemporary retelling of the classic Greek myth presents a fresh look at the universality of life’s inevitabilities, both tragic and comic. A winner of a MacArthur “Genius” grant and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, 38-year old playwright Ruhl is among the most accomplished contemporary American playwrights. Her Eurydice was a hit off-Broadway in 2007 and has been performed elsewhere to great acclaim.
National Book Award finalist Kevin Young will read from his poetry at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s historic estate, on Saturday, July 9. The event includes a reading, reception, and book signing and will begin at 4. A 1992 graduate of Harvard College, a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University (1992-1994) and the recipient of an MFA from Brown University, Young was part of the Boston-based African-American poetry group, the Dark Room Collective, which the New Yorker called “a group that could turn well out to be as important to American letters as the Harlem Renaissance.” He is heavily influenced by the poets Langston Hughes, John Berryman, and Emily Dickinson and the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Slide guitarist Sonny Landreth, about whom Eric Clapton said, “Probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also one of the most advanced,” performs at Club Helsinki Hudson at Friday, July 8, 2011 at 9. Also this weekend, Helsinki presents soul group The Revelations, featuring Tré Williams, on Saturday, July 9 at 9, and the organic Hudson Valley country folk of Chris Neumann and Simple Machines on Thursday, July 7, at 8.
The Berkshire Jewish Film Festival, one of the longest running in the United States, begins its 25th consecutive season on Monday, July 11, 2011, and runs for seven consecutive Mondays ending on August 22, in the Duffin Theater at Lenox Memorial High School. Twelve movies will be featured from the United States, Argentina, Germany, Israel, and France. Films will be presented at 4 and 8 and are open to the public. The festival opens on July 11 at 4 with Ahead of Time, documenting the remarkable life of Ruth Gruber, New York Tribune reporter and photographer. Opening night at 8 will be Bride Flight, a romantic drama of three women from Hungary when they emigrate to New Zealand as war brides after WWII.
The Tony Award-winning star of the original cast of A Chorus Line, Donna McKechnie, will perform My Musical Comedy Life on Sunday, July 10, 2011, at 7 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Mass.. The one-woman show garnered McKechnie a Mac Award Nomination for Best Female Singer and the Backstage Bistro Award for Outstanding Major Engagement. The show includes music from some of Broadway’s most celebrated composers, including Stephen Sondheim, Ed Kleban and Marvin Hamlisch, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Cy Coleman, as well as more contemporary artists, including Francesca Blumenthal and Ann Hampton Callaway.
The Yiddish Book Center will host its 7th Annual Paper Bridge Arts Festival on July 10-14, 2011. This five-day festival includes concerts, theater, workshops, author lectures, and Yiddish film. Tours of the Yiddish Book Center’s repository will be offered Sunday at 12:30 and Monday – Thursday at 1:30. Special exhibits on view include Unquiet Pages; An-sky: A Living Connection; The Yiddish Print Shop; Sholem-bayes: Reflections on the American Jewish Home; and Bagels & Grits: Exploring Jewish Life in the Deep South.
The Paper Bridge Arts Festival kicks off on Sunday, July 10 with a concert by indie Yiddish songstress Clare Burson, presenting work from her recently released CD, Silver & Ash. On Monday, July 11, The Essence: A Yiddish Theatre Dim Sum brings a mix of melodies, “irrelevant interludes” and drama to the stage. On Tuesday, July 12, Paul Shapiro and band provide live accompaniment for the classic silent film His People, and on Wednesday, July 13, the internationally acclaimed Klezmer Conservatory Band will perform their high-energy brand of klezmer and Yiddish music.
On Saturday, July 9, from 10 to 4, the Lenox Garden Club presents its 21st annual tour of gardens and houses. The self-guided tour will be held rain or shine. Visitors will see six properties in the historic Berkshire towns of Richmond and West Stockbridge: a spectacular garden on 13 acres which were covered with years of trash accumulation, now flowing with freeform beds of shade and sunny gardens; a former apple farm which celebrates trees and where native plantings frame peaceful views; woodland and shade gardens surrounding a graceful Georgian house; English-style gardens on the site of a colonial-era tannery; an ever-evolving garden featuring a moss staircase and an angel garden, celebrating the arrival of grandchildren; and a former sheep pasture where wildflowers and plantings to attract wildlife blend into the surrounding native forest.
Mezze Bistro + Bar will host an art opening on Monday, July 11, featuring selected works from Berkshire-based artists Melissa Matsuki Lillie and Sean Riley, from 5 to 7 pm. The event is free and open to the public, with light snacks and a cash bar. The current Mezze Bistro exhibit is a combination of existing contemporary works exploring paintings and textiles using a variety of textures and patterns.