The cultural highlights of the Berkshire weekend include the long-awaited opening of this summer’s production by the Wharton Salon at The Mount in Lenox; a discussion of photographer Gregory Crewdson’s work at the Berkshire Museum; a concert by eclectic virtuoso guitarist Frank Vignola at the Mahaiwe; an experimental theater piece about divorce by the group The Civilians at the Williamstown Theatre Festival; a concert by the so-called “Prince of Kosher Gospel,” Joshua Nelson, at Lenox Memorial High; and an exhibition of new works by artist Michael Zelehoski at Sanford Smith Fine Art in Great Barrington, Mass.
Edith Wharton’s century-old story, “Autres Temps…,” about divorce American-style, is being given a new staging in a different time – the Mad Men year of 1962 – by the Wharton Salon theater company at Wharton’s old estate, The Mount. This Autre Temps includes real-life mother and daughter Diane Prusha and Rory Hammond playing Mrs. Lidcote and daughter Leila, Corinna May as Susy Suffern and James Goodwin Rice as Franklin Ide.
“Autres Temps…” was first published in Century Magazine in the summer of 1911 as “Other Times, Other Manners,” and comes from a French saying, “Autres temps, autres moeurs.” It appeared next in the collection Xingu in 1916 as “Autres Temps…” It has since been published in numerous collections.
The play, which was adapted by Dennis Krausnick, is directed by Taylor-Williams, with costumes by Arthur Oliver. Tickets are $35 general admission. Performances take place in The Stables Auditorium two weekday evenings (Wednesday and Thursday at 5:30 pm) and on weekends (Saturday at 10:30 am and 3:00 pm, and Sunday at 10:30 am) August 17-28. For tickets and information visit Wharton Salon or The Mount or call 1.800.838.3006.
Acclaimed contemporary photographer Gregory Crewdson, a longtime part-time resident of the Berkshires whose work is often staged on location in towns around the region and on stage sets at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., will have his work discussed at two events this Friday, August 19, 2011,: at the Berkshire Museum at 5 p.m. and at Ferrin Gallery at 6:30 p.m. Both are in Pittsfield, Mass.
At the Berkshire Museum, John Stomberg, former director of the Williams College Museum of Art and now Florence Finch Abbott Director, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, and Maria Mingalone, the Berkshire Museum’s interim executive director and longtime director of interpretation and programming, will discuss Crewdson’s work, which is included in the museum’s collection, at 5.
Crewdson’s 2004 photograph Untitled (Beneath the Roses), is currently on view at Berkshire Museum; the large-scale image is part of the permanent collection/ The event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served. or call 413.443.7171.
Acoustic guitar virtuoso Frank Vignola and his band, the Hot Club Trio, will give a concert at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday August 19, at 8, that melds gypsy jazz, bluegrass, swing, and front-porch picking into an eclectic, upbeat sound all their own. Vignola is noted for his eclecticism and virtuosity; he has toured and recorded with everyone from Madonna, Elton John, and Ringo Starr to Lionel Hampton, Donald Fagen, Queen Latifah, David Grisman, and Bucky Pizzarelli (with whom he performed at the Mahaiwe last August). Vignola and his trio deliver white-hot versions of American standards, gypsy jazz jams, and even jazzified covers of Mozart and Black Sabbath.
To give a sense of Vignola’s eclecticism, in 2004, he released a CD called 33 1/3 (Hyena), recorded with percussionist Joe Ascione, and featuring music ranging from Mozart to Rimsky-Korsakov to Cole Porter to the Doobie Brothers, from Gypsy swing to samba to bluegrass, all tied together by the musicians’ infectious, swinging grooves and virtuosic acoustic stylings. The CD also included guest vocals by Dr. John, Jane Monheit and Manhattan Transfer’s Janis Siegel. He has also made albums of Gershwin, blues, Broadway, standards, and the music of Gypsy jazz icon Django Reinhardt.
You Better Sit Down: tales from my parents’ divorce, an original work written, directed, and performed by members of the New York investigative theatre company The Civilians, is playing on the Nikos Stage at Williamstown Theatre Festival through Sunday, August 21, 2011. Crafted from interviews between the cast and their own parents, You Better Sit Down is an alternately heartbreaking and hilarious look at the stories behind the statistics of one of the most prominent social phenomena of our time. Shockingly candid, these delicate parent-child conversations, with the actors playing their own parents, yield unique insights into falling in love, falling out of love, and rebuilding a life after the complex experience of dividing a family.
The 25th anniversary celebration of the Berkshire Jewish Film Festival will feature Joshua Nelson and his Kosher Gospel. This concert will be held on Saturday, August 22, 2011, at the Duffin Theater at Lenox Memorial High School at 8 with a dessert reception at 7 before the concert.
Joshua Nelson was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in East Orange, N.J., in an African-American Jewish family, tracing their Jewish heritage to Joshua’s great-grandmother in Senegal. The self-styled “Prince of Kosher Gospel” describes his folk-cultural innovation as the marriage of Jewish religious lyrics and the improvisational sounds of American gospel. For Joshua Nelson, “kosher gospel” claims both parts of his identity as a Black Jew.
In its fourth summer season, Hubbard Hall Opera Theater (HHOT) presents Gaetano Donizetti’s classic comic opera, Don Pasquale, in a new production by Heidi Lauren Duke, reconceived and relocated to the glamorous early Hollywood, Art Deco world of Buster Keaton and Mae West. Performances, running August 12, 13, and 18 at 8 pm and August 20 and 21 at 2 pm on Hubbard Hall’s mainstage at 25 East Main Street in Cambridge, N.Y., will be fully costumed and staged, sung in Italian (with supertitles), and accompanied by a 17-piece orchestra. A pay-what-you-will final dress rehearsal at 8 pm on August 10 also is open to the public.
“Inner Objects,” an exhibition of works by Michael Zelehoski, opens on Friday, August 19, at Sanford Smith Fine Art in Great Barrington, Mass., and runs through October 13, 2011. A reception for the artist takes place on Saturday, August 20, from 4 to 7. Zelehoski’s artwork involves the literal collapse of three-dimensional objects and structures into the picture plane. This simple gesture – which is basically just taking things apart and putting them back together flat – is at the heart of what we think of as two-dimensional, representational art. As Zelehoski himself says, “I’m just doing it in a very literal way and whereas the whole point of Magritte’s pipe was that it wasn’t. The whole point of these objects is that they are what they are.”
My Name Is Asher Lev, a play based on the acclaimed novel by Chaim Potok, opens this week at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Mass.. Adapted for the stage and directed by Aaron Posner, My Name Is Asher Lev, which follows the journey of a young Jewish painter torn between his Hasidic upbringing and his desperate need to fulfill his artistic promise, runs from August 18 through September 11.
When his artistic genius threatens to destroy his relationship with his parents and community, young Asher Lev realizes he must make a difficult choice between art and faith. This stirring adaptation of a modern classic presents a heartbreaking and triumphant vision of what it means to be an artist. The production stars Daniel Cantor (The Men), Renata Friedman (The Women) and Adam Green (Asher Lev).
ArtBerkshires presents the second of two curated weekends of arts-related events in the region from Thursday, August 18 through Sunday, August 21, 2011. Organized by ArtBerkshires cofounders Leslie Ferrin and Sienna Patti, the weekend will feature a variety of programs, exhibitions, and exclusive events at venues linking contemporary art, sculpture and photography on view throughout the Berkshires under the theme “Decadence & Decay” throughout North and South Berkshire at venues including the Nroman Rockwell Museum, MASS MoCA and The Clark.
The historic settings and permanent collections based in the region provide a context in which to explore decay as subject matter in and of itself and as a theme for new work. Four days of tours and conversations include “Robots at Rockwell” at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, contemporary photography at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Nari Ward at MASS MoCA in North Adams, and El Anatsui at the Stone Hill Center at The Clark in Williamstown.