A highly selective preview of cultural events taking place this weekend in the greater Berkshire region, including a festival of new music; a sneak peek at cutting-edge performance art; a mini-festival of old and new plays; Moroccan trance grooves, the circus comes to town; and a whole lot more.
(LENOX, Mass.) – Plays by Sam Shepard, Sarah Ruhl, and Anton Chekhov will be featured in Shakespeare & Company’s annual Winter Studio Festival of Plays on Saturday, January 14, and Sunday, January 15. The weekend of staged readings, featuring both emerging and established artists, also includes works by local playwrights Emily Devoti and Robert Sugarman. Company veterans Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Tod Randolph, and David Joseph are among those performing. All performances will take place in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre on the Shakespeare & Company campus in Lenox.
(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – Composers including minimalist pioneer Steve Reich, downtown lion John Zorn, avant-gardist Frederic Rzewski and jazz legend Charles Mingus will have their works performed as part of I/O Fest 2017, a four-day festival of new music at Williams College running Thursday, January 12, through Sunday, January 15, at various venues around Williamstown. The festival includes concerts, a lecture, several world premieres, music of many composers, performances by the I/O Ensemble and IOTA, and New York City-based new-music quintet TAK. All events are free and open to the public. Neither tickets nor reservations are required.
(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Choreographer and multimedia performance artist Richard Move will stage a one-night-only work-in-progress showing of “XXYY” in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA on Friday, January 20 at 8pm. The new collaboration, exploring the multiplicities of the gender spectrum while deconstructing the conventional binaries of male and female, is conceived and directed by Move, with an original sound score by electronic music pioneer Martux_m and costumes by theatre artist Alba Clemente. The work-in-progress showing culminates a two-week residency at MASS MoCA in collaboration with Jacob’s Pillow Dance.
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Hudson’s own Bindlestiff Family Cirkus continues its wintertime tradition of hosting a monthly cabaret, featuring a variety of circus, theater, comedy and musical entertainers, at Club Helsinki Hudson with four shows: kicking off at 9pm on Friday, January 13; continuing on Saturday, February 18; and again on Saturday, March 11; plus a Sunday matinee show on March 12 geared to the entire family.
Each month this winter, Bindlestiff Cirkus will bring a new lineup, with acts including trapeze, contortion, acrobatic balance, sword swallowing, juggling, physical comedy, and oddball novelty turns. The Bindlestiff stage is one of the few arenas in the world where attendees may see internationally renowned street performers, featured acts from Cirque du Soleil and Ringling Brothers, and artists from “America’s Got Talent” next to local legends, live, on stage, and in the same show.
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Moroccan-dosed dub-jazz collective Club D’Elf, featuring superstar keyboardist John Medeski of Medeski Martin and Wood fame, return to Club Helsinki Hudson with their funky world-trance grooves on Saturday, January 14, at 9pm, to celebrate the long-awaited release of “Live at Club Helsinki,” an epic double album that showcases the band’s genre-leaping improvisational acumen, performing at one of its favorite venues for an ecstatic crowd.
The band’s association with Club Helsinki dates to 2001, when it first performed at the nightclub’s original Great Barrington, Mass., location. Since that time, the group has performed annually at the club in its current location in Hudson. A combination of superb sound, intimate environment, and an audience tuned into the band’s every nuance helped create one of those magical nights. “Live at Club Helsinki” captures the excitement of two complete continuous sets of no-holds-barred improvisations and classic D’Elf tunes.
(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – More than a century of Japanese printing traditions, represented by seventy-three color woodblock prints, will be presented in the Clark Art Institute exhibition Japanese Impressions: Color Woodblock Prints from the Rodbell Family Collection.
The exhibition explores the complex and changing relationship among artists, woodblock cutters, and publishers from the ukiyo-e (scenes from the floating world) tradition of the mid-19th century, the shin-hanga (new print) movement of the 1920s and 1930s, and the s?saku-hanga (creative print) movement that began in the 1950s. Japanese Impressions is on view through April 2, 2017.
(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) — Nick Cave, the artist known for his wearable sculptures called Soundsuits, turns expectations inside out at MASS MoCA in “Until,” a massive immersive installation. Cave uses MASS MoCA’s signature football field-sized space to create his largest and most overtly political installation to date, made up of thousands of found objects, a rich sensory tapestry. The sheer volume of material that has been gathered is astounding — 16,000 wind spinners; millions of plastic pony beads; thousands of ceramic birds, fruits, and animals; 13 gilded pigs; more than 10 miles of crystals; 24 chandeliers; 1 crocodile; and 17 cast-iron lawn jockeys.
(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – “Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning” features the work of the creative team behind such memorable Saturday morning cartoons as “The Yogi Bear Show,” “The Flintstones,” and the “The Jetsons,” on view at Norman Rockwell Museum through May 29, 2017.
Before the rise of basic cable, Saturday mornings for many children in America were spent watching cartoons on one of three available television channels. From 1958 through the 1980s, a majority of those cartoons bore the imprint of Hanna-Barbera. Creating scores of popular series such as The Yogi Bear Show, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, and Scooby-Doo, Hanna-Barbera was an animation powerhouse and its bountiful creativity is beloved to this day.