This weekend’s cultural highlights in the Berkshires include the opening of one of William Shakespeare’s greatest hits, Romeo and Juliet, at Shakespeare & Company; an innovative dance production by Canadian dance icon Louise Lecavalier that makes use of the intense proto-punk music of Iggy Pop at Jacob’s Pillow; the annual Berkshire Playwrights Lab Festival of New Short Plays at the Mahaiwe; and slam-poetry champion Taylor Mali’s annual performance at the Triplex in Great Barrington, Mass. – among many, many other worthy events.
Berkshire Playwrights Lab will present the Berkshire Playwrights Lab New Play Benefit on Friday, July 15 at 7:30 pm at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center (14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, Mass.) The benefit will feature world premiere readings of new short plays written especially for the occasion by Joe Cacaci, Richard Dresser, Kelly Masterson, Susan Merson, Alexis Perkins, and Anna Ziegler.
The evening will be directed by Berkshire Playwrights Lab co-artistic directors Joe Cacaci, Jim Frangione, Bob Jaffe, and Matthew Penn and feature actors Larry Bryggman, Jake Elitzer, Chris Hirsh, Dan Lauria, Brian Murray, James Murtaugh, Peter Riegert, Carol Schneider, Finnerty Steeves, Brooke Tibbs, Jennifer Van Dyck, Amy Van Nostrand, and Margot White.
Iggy Pop is perhaps best known as one of the most intensely physical rock ‘n’ roll singers, often flaunting his buff physique by performing shirtless, and in his younger, wilder days, even known to roll around in broken glass onstage. Therefore it’s only appropriate that iconic Canadian contemporary dancer Louise Lecavalier performs a program of physical, compelling works including A Few Minutes of Lock, in its U.S. premiere, powering through the signature athletic choreography of Édouard Lock to a soundscape of Iggy Pop music, during a limited engagement at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival July 13-16.
This rare opportunity for audiences to see Lecavalier perform in the United States also includes the U.S. premiere of the duet Children, choreographed by DV8 Physical Theatre’s Nigel Charnock, in which Lecavalier performs with Patrick Lamothe, opening a window into a relationship at its breaking point.
There couldn’t be a more fitting summertime exhibition in the Berkshires than “Sol Schwartz: Drawing in the Dark,” featuring the well-known artist’s vibrant, spontaneous drawings, that have captured the beauty and excitement of music, theater and dance at such performing arts centers as Tanglewood, Shakespeare & Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, and Barrington Stage Company, on view now through October 23, 2011, at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Schwartz has captured the likes of André Previn, Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Seiji Ozawa, Yo-Yo Ma, Katherine Dunham, Savion Glover, and Mark Morris in performance with pen and ink as they perform live in the Berkshires.
“Sol Schwartz: Drawing in the Dark” looks at the artist’s original drawings and sketchbooks, along with the creatively-designed large scale prints that reflect his enthusiastic love of color, graphic art, and digital technology. A video interview with the artist offers personal commentary on the unique, creative environment of the Berkshires.
Taylor Mali, renowned slam poetry performer, returns to Upstairs Live at the Triplex for his annual summer show on Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 8 at the Triplex Cinema. This year’s one-man show, Open Heart Perjury, is described as “an evening of poetry embracing disruption in the service of clarity and laughter.” Mali is generally considered to be the most successful poetry slam strategist of all time, leading six of his seven national poetry slam teams to the finals and winning a record four championships. He is a dazzling wordsmith, a compelling performance poet, serious about his art yet always funny, and a charming guy to boot.
Generations never tire of the story of two families, the Montagues and the Capulets, embroiled in an ancient feud, the origin of which was forgotten generations ago. Young lovers find inspiration as well as tragedy in the story of two teenage children who meet at a masked ball and fall in love, in spite of their families’ hatred for each other. Romeo and Juliet see the world, and each other, with fresh eyes and open hearts, and remind us to do so, too. Romeo and Juliet, one of the greatest and most influential love stories of all time, and perhaps William Shakespeare’s most popular play, is being given an updated, innovative treatment in a new production directed by Daniela Varon at Shakespeare & Company’s Founders’ Theatre now through September 3.