Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gay Pride Activities begin this weekend in Northampton

The Pride celebrations begin this weekend in Northampton. Visit NoHo to start the country's Pride Season. Here's a rundown on most of those taking place in the New England region:

NoHo Pride 2010 on May 1st. To learn more about the event, please visit NoHo Pride's website.

CT Pride 2010, taking place on June 5, 2010 at Bushnell Park. You will find the organization's website here.

Boston Pride 2010, celebrating its 40th Anniversary, will also be one of the biggest celebrations in the commonwealth. Boston Pride will happen from June 4-13th, 2010 this year. For more information, and to see what will happen throughout the week just click here!

Worcester Pride 2010, will take place on Sept 11th this year. For more information about this great celebration, you can visit the organization's website.

Pride Vermont 2010 will be celebrated on July 24th, 2010. For a small state, the Pride event is pretty legendary. Check out their website for the latest information.

In Rhode Island, Pride Fest 2010 takes place on June 19th. PrideFest and the Night Gay Pride Parade through Providence basically functions as Providence Gay Pride and Newport Gay Pride all rolled into one statewide celebration. For schedule information, visit PrideFest.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Is there gay life in the Berkshires?

A reader sent me this question, and it made me stop and think.

Hey, Gay in the Berkshires -

I saw your blog online and thought I would send you an email.

I just got a job offer in the Berkshires and I'm considering moving there.

I am a single gay man in my early 30s. Is there enough of a gay life in the Berkshires
that would interest someone to move there?

Any information would be much appreciated. Thanks


Mike -

That's a tough question to answer without knowing more about you. If by "enough" you mean lots of clubs and bars, the short answer is our club scene is limited. But LGBTQ folks are far from one-dimensional, and if you mean a rich, rewarding variety of activities and a great working environment, the Berkshires are the place to be. We're here. We're queer. But we're pretty laid back about it.

The Berkshires are pretty rural with an overall population of about 100,000. But we enjoy more culture, nature and history than most places three times our size. With Tanglewood, Jacob's Pillow and four major theatre companies, what's not to like. To get an idea about our nightlife, check out my online magazine, Berkshire On Stage which is gearing up for the summer of 2010.

While nothing like Provincetown or Manhattan, there is a decent sized LGBTQ community here, though no full time gay bar. (Though you might try Mezze in Williamstown on Thurday evenings.) The Berkshire Stonewall Community Coaltion is the community organization, and from one of the monthly potluck suppers you can begin to get acquainted with the community. There are young people who love to dance, and lots of events they share with our allies. In the Berkshries being gay is like no big deal. You can even get married in any of our town halls. Many churches will conduct the ceremony, and almost all our guest houses are gay friendly to a fault.

Barrington Stage Company has several "Out" evenings, a first this summer, and last year we had our first Out in the Berkshires Weekend which was sponsored by the City of Pittsfield, imagine that!

A lot of the LGBTQ folks are already in committed relationships, but there are plenty who aren't. Facebook is a major way we all keep in touch. There is even a Berkshire Gay Guerrilla Group (BG3) which posts where we can meet for a good time.

We like the slower, gentler pace of the Berkshires, but that doesn't stop us from dashing from one thing to another if we want. Or simply hiking the Appalachian Trail to the top of Mount Greylock for some quiet time with ourselves.

We hope you might take the job and join us. If you have been living in the big city, you will find the cost of housing and other essentials pretty low here, too. That means you can afford to do more! There are even half price ticket operations at several of the visitor centers to save on entertainment, and you can always see a show for free by ushering. Great way to meet people, too.

Hope this answers your question.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sarah Vowell on Tom Cruise

Sarah Vowell is not to be underestimated.

When I gush about her, everyone says: "Sarah who?" Well I am here to tell you that she is the real deal. An eccentric, literate, understated and hilariousy funny writer who has taken to the stage with her deadpan stories about famous people. Presidents, movie stars, history, they are all grist for her mill.

Take her laid back analysis of Hollywood icon Tom Cruise, his anatomy, his geometic face, his undies. She deconstructs the myth in this audio slide show.

Which is to say that if you miss Sarah tomorrow night at 8:00PM at the Colonial Theatre, you may miss the best event of the year. She has already dished the Berkshires, its B&B's and theatre companies to dirt (as I reported in this Berkshire On Stage article) and I bet there is more to come.

Here's a synopsis of her life so far: Sarah Vowell is the acclaimed author of four bestselling books and a contributing editor for NPR’s This American Life. She has written documentaries and monologues about everything from the Cherokee Trail of Tears, presidential libraries and Frank Sinatra, to more personal pieces about her father’s homemade cannon, a youthful obsession with The Godfather and her own Goth makeover.

I can hardly wait to hear her latest stories.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Benefit Dinner for Homeless LGBTQ Youth on Friday April 23

Kimy from Lost in the Crowd in midtown Manhatten. Photo by Susi Graf.

Join the Williams Queer Student Union and its allies for a benefit dinner on Friday, April 23rd at 5:30pm for MCCNY Homeless Youth Services: Sylvia's Place, with food donated by Jae’s Spice in Pittsfield.

Sylvia's Place is a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth in New York City. The shelter is a charity of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. See these links for more information on Sylvia's Place, as well as some statistics on homeless youth in NYC:

Tickets for the dinner will be $10 each, and all proceeds from ticket sales will go to MCCNY Homeless Youth Services; Sylvia's Place. The QSU will be tabling throughout Queer Pride Days in Paresky to sell tickets in advance, so be sure to get them before they sell out- we can only seat 150 people at this dinner!

Clothing Drive, too.

In addition to this benefit dinner, we will be holding a clothing drive with Williams Christian Fellowship. Clothing will go to residents at MCCNY Homeless Youth Services; Sylvia's Place. We will be collecting clothes in the donation bins in the back of Paresky throughout Queer Pride Days. Any and all donations are welcome, particularly age-appropriate clothes for the residents at the shelter. We will be driving down to New York City on Saturday, April 24th to deliver the clothes and hang out with the residents at the shelter- email if you're interested in this, or if you have any questions!

Lost in the Crowd benefit for homeless LGBTQ youth is tonight

Just received a note about this 8:00 pm screening and fund raiser at Williams College tonight:

Hey everyone,

Don't forget that we're screening Lost in the Crowd tonight at 8pm in Paresky Theater. This documentary details the experiences of transgender homeless youth in New York City, and the subculture they created within and despite their conditions. Some of the people featured in the film are or were residents of Sylvia's Place, the organization that will be receiving the proceeds of our benefit dinner this Friday. Please come learn more about the conditions under which many youth in the queer community must live.

There will be free pizza!


Lost in the Crowd is a short documentary that explores the experiences and subcultures formed by queer homeless youth in New York City. There will be free pizza at this event. We will also be selling tickets to the Benefit Dinner here, so please stop by to learn more about the issues at hand.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Berkshire Visitor's Bureau Unveils New LGBTQ Outreach

The Berkshire Visitors Bureau runs the visitors information center in Adams. One day we could find a "Berkshire LGBTQ Events and Atttractons" leaflet in the rack.

As part of their ongoing promotional efforts, the Berkshire Visitor's Bureau is reaching out to the LGBTQ community to make sure they know they are welcome here. Following up on a brainstorming session held earlier this year, the latest edition of Discover The Berkshires includes a story by Bess Hochstein, called "LGBTQ in the Berkshires."

It is also a web page that will be included on their website. You can find it at

The BVB is open to further ideas on ways to promote and market to our community. Being member supported, those establishments which are gay friendly or gay owned are encouraged to further the ongoing discussions both between themselves, at meetings and with the BVB professionals.

One of the ideas discussed by the BVB was finding a way to incorporate the rainbow into marketing materials to make clear that the Berkshires offer a gay friendly welcome.

The benefits of including an LGBTQ marketing focus are many, not the least of which is the positive impact it has on those of us who live and work here. While the cities have always been a magnet for gays, in Massachusetts we are seeing significant populations in the smaller cities and towns as well. Provincetown, of course, and Northampton. And lately we are seeing increasing numbers in places like Pittsfield and Springfield, too.

Around Memorial Day, look for our specialized Summer Calendar of Events. If you are planning something of interest to the LGBTQ community, please take a minute to be sure we are getting an email or press release. It would be a shame to miss an event because nobody told us about it. Even with Gaydar in full force, we miss a lot. My email is BerkshireLarry at Gmail dot com.

Trailer Park: The Musical in Boston

I don't know what it is about trashy people that fascinates us gay boys. But they do. That's why this Boston premiere musical deserves your attention.

If you are interested in agoraphobia, adultery, spray cheese, road kill, hysterical pregnancy, kleptomania, flan and disco, then this rockabilly musical is worth a trip down the pike to the Boston Center for the Arts.

(From left): Leigh Barrett, Kerry A. Dowling and Mary Callanan in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL, running April 30 - May 30 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street in the South End. Tix/Info: 617-933-8600 or Photo: Mark L. Saperstein.

The plot is real Jerry Springer fodder. When Pippi, a stripper on the run, comes between Dr. Phil-loving, agoraphobic Jeannie and her toll-collector husband, neighbors Betty, Lin and Pickles team up to save their friend's marriage.

Great casting, with Boston legend Leigh Barrett, plus Mary Callanan, Kerry A. Dowling and David Benoit starring. For more information, visit

The Hilarious Off-Broadway musical hit runs from April 30 to May 30, 2010 with Music and lyrics by David Nehls, Book by Betsy Kelso, Directed by Paul Daigneault, Music Direction by Nick Connell and Choreography by David Connolly

“One of the Most Laugh Out Loud Shows in Town” –

“A Bright New Musical” –The New York Times

“Undeniable Fun!” –The New York Post

Monday, April 12, 2010

Janis Ian has traveled the long, hard road

Janis Ian performs in Pittsfield April 17.

Janis Ian is a great singer and songwriter, and on Saturday night April 17 at 8:00 PM she and Karla Bonoff will take to the stage of the Colonial Theatre for a great evening of song and memories. The evening is sponsored by WGBY.

Ian is an original, having first stirred the pot in 1966- when she was 15 - with her album "Society's Child." Its topic of interracial marriage outraged many because of the taboos of the times. She has released two dozen more since then, her latest being her autobiography collection to go with her new book.

Ian has had a diverse personal life. She married Portuguese filmmaker Tino Sargo in 1978. He was abusive and they divorced in 1983. Details of Sargo's physical and emotional treatment are discussed in Ian's autobiography, Society's Child. After moving to Nashville, she met Patricia Snyder in 1989; and they later married in Toronto in 2003. The two celebrated their 20th anniversary together in 2009. Ian has a stepdaughter by Snyder, and two grandchildren.

The Colonial performance called Songs of a Generation is a celebration of song, featuring two of the most influential songwriters of the ’60s through the ’90s. Janis Ian’s hit songs include “At Seventeen,” “Jessie,” and many more.

Karla Bonoff has written numerous million selling songs including “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me,” “Home,” “All My Life,” “Personally” and “Tell Me Why.”

These two Grammy Award-winning stars will take you on a musical journey starting in 1966 when “Society’s Child” became a lightning rod for racial equality in the most storied and turbulent time in our musical history. Coupled with Janis Ian’s new autobiography released this year and both artist's new retrospective CDs, this will be the concert to remember from two unforgettable artists.

Tickets for the performance are $65 (VIP preferred seating with post-show Artist meet & greet), $45 and $25 and can be purchased in person at the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street Monday-Friday 10AM-5PM, performance Saturdays 10AM-2PM, by calling (413) 997-4444 or online at

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Under the Gay Big Top - climACTS 2010 in Boston April 27

Backstage with Michael Lanphear (R). Thomas Olsen photo.

Have you heard about climACTS which happens each year in Boston? It is the anything-goes event, known for it’s unusual antics, and in previous outings has featured everything from glittery drag shows, caged go-go dancers and outrageous auction packages. In a word, it is unpredictable.

The crowd gets into the act, too.

On tap for this year is an exotic martini bar, circus sideshow acts and a live auction featuring City Year's Charlie Rose as auctioneer. The big ticket auction item will be VIP tickets to the Amfar benefit at this year’s Cannes Film Festival as guests of Mr. Cummings, valued at $8800.

Considering his continued support, it's a special evening in which the Tony Award winner will be honored, and some amazing circus acts will be enjoyed under the Big Apple Tent at Boston's City Hall Plaza. The glitterati of Boston LGBT community will be in attendance. And “Project Runway” winner and designer to the stars Christian Siriano will accept the award on Mr. Cumming’s Behalf since Cummings will be filming in South Africa that evening.

Project Runway winner and bon vivant Christian Siriano will accept an award for Alan Cumming.

Currently in it’s 11th year, climACTS, the annual gala benefit for The Theater Offensive will be held on Tuesday April 27th and promises a showstopper under the big top with performances by a dazzling aerialist, Massachusetts native Michael Lanphear (fresh from appearing on Britney Spears World Circus Tour), contortionist Viktoria Grimmy (also on the World Circus tour) and honors for film and theater star Alan Cumming. Christian Siriano, “fierce” winner of season four of Project Runway and designer to stars such as Lady Gaga, Estelle, Whoopi Goldberg and Tori Spelling, will accept the award on behalf of Mr. Cummings.

The action will take place under the Big Apple Circus’ tents on City Hall Plaza beginning at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $150 and all proceeds benefit the Theater Offensive. For more information, call 617.661.1600; tickets can also be obtained online at

Honored at the event will be Alan Cumming, best known for his villainous roles in Goldeneye and Spy Kids 1, 2 and 3. He won a Tony for his role in Broadway's Cabaret and is currently filming alongside Kristin Bell, Stanley Tucci, Christina Aguilera and Cher in Burlesque, a musical set for a Thanksgiving 2010 release. Alan also has a recurring role on this season's hot new show, The Good Wife.

Michael Lanphear, a graduate of Bridgewater State College does "silks" among other things. It's when the aerialists hang from those long sensual silk ropes flying, spinning and falling. It's awesome.

Aerialist Michael Lanphear trains with the Gemini Twins of Cirque Du Soleil fame and focuses on three aerial apparatuses: straps, hoop and fabric. As a performer Michael captures audiences with breathtaking displays of strength and flexibility.

The Theater Offensive has driven ambitious programming to the cutting edge of queer culture and politics since 1989. Grounded in their commitment to build an activist-based artistic forum, their groundbreaking programming has become a vital arena for the unique voices of diverse queer cultures, and has led to lasting coalitions between the varied communities under the queer umbrella. It is a commitment to debunking assumptions both from inside and outside the queer communities that directs all Theater Offensive work.

Ringmaster for the evening will be Boston arts and culture critic Joyce Kulhawik.

The Theater Offensive mounts and produces festivals and individual productions by national and local queer performers, and also serves as a development environment for new theatrical work. Among the programs developed by The Theater Offensive are The True Colors OUT Youth Theater troupe (formerly Teen Theater Works) which generates original productions written and performed by its young actors, Plays at Work, which develops and presents new, local theatrical productions in staged readings and workshops and A Street Theater Named Desire, a guerilla AIDS activist theater troupe, that enters gay cruising grounds and presents performances that promote safe sex and AIDS education.

ClimACTS is chaired by Eric Georgi, Faith Soloway and Donald Vaughan alongside Honorary Chairs Harry Collings, Tony Corey and Joan Parker. Tickets to the event are on sale now at

Monday, April 5, 2010

Berkshire Stonewall Spring Dance April 17 in Pittsfield

Berkshire Stonewall LGBTQ Spring Dance April 17.

The Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition will be hosting a spring dance at the Elk's Club in Pittsfield on April 17th, from 8:30pm - 12:30am. It includes a Cash Bar, DJ, and appetizers, as well as a 50/50 raffle.

If you are not yet a member, here's a chance to meet the Berkshire Stonewall community as they kick off our spring membership drive.

The 50/50 raffle will benefit the Live Out Loud Youth Project: youth dance this spring.

While the cost is $5 for members and $10 for non-members you can get FREE ADMISSION if you Join/Renew your membership at the door!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lesbian Albatross Colony in the News Again

The scientific community tries to tell everyone that just because a third of Hawaii's albatross colony consists of same sex birds, it is not at all the same thing as when we humans do it. Scientists avoid the suggestion of anthropomorphism while to us it is cause to raise the rainbow flag.

Lady Gagabatross: "Whatsa matter, haven't you seen a gay albatross before?"

The New York Times Magazine has done a very long, very informative article on homosexuality in the animal kingdom - and goodness, there is a lot of it. When news of this common occurrence first came to light a while ago, the media and politicians had a field day.

Speaking on Oahu a few years ago as first lady, Laura Bush praised Laysan albatross couples for making lifelong commitments to one another. Lindsay C. Young, a biologist who studies the Kaena Point colony, told the Times: “They were supposed to be icons of monogamy: one male and one female. But I wouldn’t assume that what you’re looking at is a male and a female.”

"A Denver-based publication for gay parents welcomed any and all new readers from “the extensive lesbian albatross parent community,” reported the Times. The conservative Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn highlighted Young’s paper on his Web site, under the heading “Your Tax Dollars at Work,” even though her study of the female-female pairs was not actually federally financed. Stephen Colbert warned on Comedy Central that “albatresbians” were threatening American family values with their “Sappho-avian agenda.” A gay rights advocate e-mailed Young, asking her to fly a rainbow flag above each female-female nest, to identify them and show solidarity."

"We just love to decorate our nesting site with a little green..."

Of course, straight people see things through straight lenses. As the Times article points out:

Various forms of same-sex sexual activity have been recorded in more than 450 different species of animals by now, from flamingos to bison to beetles to guppies to warthogs. A female koala might force another female against a tree and mount her, while throwing back her head and releasing what one scientist described as “exhalated belchlike sounds.”

Male Amazon River dolphins have been known to penetrate each other in the blowhole. Within most species, homosexual sex has been documented only sporadically, and there appear to be few cases of individual animals who engage in it exclusively. For more than a century, this kind of observation was usually tacked onto scientific papers as a curiosity, if it was reported at all, and not pursued as a legitimate research subject.

Biologists tried to explain away what they’d seen, or dismissed it as theoretically meaningless — an isolated glitch in an otherwise elegant Darwinian universe where every facet of an animal’s behavior is geared toward reproducing. One primatologist speculated that the real reason two male orangutans were fellating each other was nutritional.

The article is a great read for everyone, especially those of us in the LGBTQ community. New York Times Magazine article.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Greek Easter is Different from Ours - it has Tsougrisma

In tsougrisma, if your egg stays intact, you will have a good year.

It's been 50 years since I dyed an egg or paid much attention to Easter, but not too long ago a gay friend invited me to take part in his family's Greek Orthodox customs. For the Eastern church, the resurrection of Christ is the big deal, while Christmas is just a minor holiday.

The Patriarch's vestments are amazing examples of embroidery gone wild.

For those who have attended a full tilt Roman Catholic sung High Mass, lasting more than an hour, that's the Reader's Digest condensation of the Greek Orthodox ritual. Their celebration starts at 10 PM, plenty of robes, processions and general prayer muttering in the totally impenetrable Greek language, until Midnight when the lights go out.

Slowly the light returns as a candle is passed from pew to pew to light the ones in our hands.

The darkness lasts only a couple of minutes as one-by-one we light candles, but the darkness represents the time in the crypt, and then the light slowly comes, He is Risen! Gales of Hallelujah! singing, lots more prayer mumbling, and finally...the feast with the priest! We all went to the Parish Hall where a big spread was laid out and everyone has a great time.

Getting home at 3:30 in the morning is fine with me, but the next morning there is the business with the red eggs. The Greek tradition is to dye the eggs red, the color of Christ's blood. But wait. There's more.

The Greeks are not the only ones who take part in the egg cracking game, but they take it very seriously. The person who ends up with an intact egg is guaranteed good luck for the coming year. Not many get this special blessing.

They call the game tsougrisma, meaning "clinking together" or "clashing." It is pronounced chigger-ah in English.

Basically each player holds an egg and they lightly tap the ends together. It can either involve one person holding the egg while the other taps or both players can tap their eggs together at the same time. The winner is able to successfully crack the ends of their opponent's egg.

There are plenty of Easter Eggs, so everyone can play the game.

It is fairly widespread in other cultures, too. The Netherlands calls this game Eiertikken; Germany declares it Ostereiertitschen. Croatians describe it as the egg fight or tuca. In Northern England an "egg-jarping" competition is held and the loser has to eat their eggs. If you search hard enough, you can find a similar version in some southern backwater towns. It is called "pocking eggs" and while it is similar to the egg cracking tradition in Europe, the winner has to eat the eggs of the losers.

Easter Bonnets. Provincetown's infamous Joel Brooks and Richard Riehle stared as the irrepressible Hat Sisters in the film, The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green. Photo: Bob Sebree.

In most of our country, God Bless America, we have lost touch with such quaint customs, and replaced them with new outfits to wear, chocolate and marshmallow bunnies and overeating, not as bad as Thanksgiving, but close.

Even if I no longer go to Easter mass, I still hate to see the commercialization of the religious day in tacky, superficial common culture.

So on Easter I think back to that sharing of the Greek traditions and how much they remain deeply rooted in my memory, and many people's lives. For others it is just an excuse to eat a ham dinner.

Lesbian Film Fest in Northampton April 16

Edie and Thea will be screened.

The second annual Lesbian Film Fest will be a celebration of love with three films being screened - one feature and two shorts. The three together run about two hours.

Presented by Out! For Reel LGBT Film Series, it is a rare opportunity to see films that rarely make it to theaters or television. It takes place Friday April 16, beginning with a Social Hour at 6:30 and the screenings at 7:30 at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton.

These events draw a good sized crowd who don't want the fun to end, so there is an After Party as well, in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Northampton. Last year there were more than 300 attendees. And some of the Out! For Reel events have drawn a capacity audience of 800. Impressive operation, led by Jaime Michaels and dozens of energetic film lovers.

She is excited about this year's offerings. I love her description of the event: "Imagine the comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer as your couples therapist, or surviving dating disasters, or being in a committed relationship for 42 years - a variety of experiences all in one night - that's the fun of the Lesbian Film Fest."

Jaime promises that those who make the trek to Northampton from the Berkshires "Will be touched deeply and you will be laughing out loud all in the same evening. We hope our Berkshire sisters Join us for the After Party at our elegant Hotel Northampton's Grand Ballroom with great music by DJ Jodi, food, and lots of Pioneer Valley women."

Edie and Thea

The makers of The Brandon Teena Story return with an empowering but intimate film centred around a 42-year passionate romance between two women - Edie and Thea. Beginning pre-Stonewall, Edie and Thea's relationship gives us an inspiring glimpse into lesbian life, love and activism since the 1960s.

Unable to achieve marriage in their home country, Edie and Thea, the latter recently diagnosed with a terminal illness, leave for Canada to legalise their vows with the country's first openly gay judge. As they face into the unknown, Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement has something to enlighten, impress and move us all. (61 minutes)

We Have to Stop Now

Couples therapy has never been this funny! Comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer stars as a couples therapist who tries to save a lesbian couple from the brink of divorce. This power couple, who wrote a runaway bestseller on the success of marriage, gives Suzanne quite a run for her money. (Best episodes from this popular lesbian web series – 36 minutes)

Falling For Caroline

A hilarious, heartwarming comedy about a cute but klutzy young woman who must overcome her dating blunders, her friend’s wrong fashion advice, and the bad lesbian habit of over-analyzing every detail. You can’t help but root for her in her quest to find true love. (20 minutes)

There's a great deal for those who buy in advance. You can get a Combo Ticket: for only $20 which includes $12.50 Fest + $7.50 Party admissions. For more information, go to Order now, prices are higher if you wait too long.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Queer the Census

It's time to be counted! Print this out and affix to the form.

If you are a LGBT couple, think about how to fill out the census form. Though not designed to accurately represent us, you can still make our presence count. For starters visit

And there are ways to make sure same sex couples can be counted, even if they are not legally married. Watch this amusing video with George Takei and Brad Altman for details:

With many thanks to Greg Roach who originally published this on his blog.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

John Kelly's "The Escape Artist" hits Mass MOCA Stage This Weekend

Everyone is familiar with Caravaggio and his paintings which come into play in The Escape Artist this weekend at Mass MOCA.

John Kelly is the 2010 Sundance Time Warner Storytelling fellow-in-residence at MASS MoCA. Along with the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, he will give a Work in Progress reading of his newest work, The Escape Artist, on Saturday, April 3, 2010 at the intimate Club B-10 at MOCA. It is but one work that is part of the unusual Sundance residency.

The Escape Artist is a collision of music, video and story. In a studio dubbing recording session for cinematic re-enactments of the paintings of Caravaggio, a singer hired to lay down the tracks channels the characters that populate the paintings, encounters unexpected technical difficulties, and reveals a turbulent personal history of his own.

Prior to arriving at Mass MOCA, John Kelly spent time in Rome recording video and taking photographs of the characters he takes on in The Escape Artist including Bacchus as painted in 1597 pictured above. As you can see, he has updated the "drug of choice."

His always fertile mind is ceaseless in its creativity, as evidenced by the oblique video he put together earlier today and which is embedded below for your fun and general puzzlement.

it's a promo filmed by Kelly on April Fools Day 2010. There are more photos and an informative update on Mass MOCA's blog. Brittany BIshop gives us a sneak peak at the mysterious Kelly piece and reminds us: "Although the showing at MASS MoCA is only a staged reading and will not include all of the final pieces of the show, from one theater nerd to another, this performance is going to be a night at the theater you don’t want to miss!"

There are many more details and ticket information on the event site.

Steven Petronio is Hot, Handsome and Happening April 9-10

Barrington Hinds by Sarah Silver

The innovative Stephen Petronio Company will bring its visceral and exciting I Drink the Air Before Me to MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in North Adams on Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10, at 8pm. It is a joint production of Mass MoCA and Jacob's Pillow which collaborate to present one dance event at the renowned art center each year. Petronio is acclaimed for his lush, sweeping performance landscapes enriched by artful pairings of contemporary music and movement.

Comments the Pillow's executive director, Ella Baff: ”Stephen Petronio is well recognized in the U.S. and abroad as a bold, leading choreographer of his generation. He also collaborates with some of the most important contemporary artists in music, fashion, and the visual arts such as Laurie Anderson, Rufus Wainwright, Anish Kapoor, and a great painter who is especially familiar to us in the Berkshires, Steve Hannock.”

The composer Nico Muhly (L) and choreographer Stephen Petronio. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris.

The work features an original score by contemporary Nico Muhly, a composer whose work has been performed by the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and the Chicago Symphony. Although in the original presentation it was played live complete with a chorus that was scattered throughout the audience, at MoCA the music will be recorded, not live.

A Trio of Petronio dancers in photo by Steven Schreiber.

Petronio's new work is titled after a quote from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest from the moment in which the sprite Ariel rushes away on Prospero’s errand: “I drink the air before me, and return / Or ere your pulse twice beat.” Moved by the character’s willingness to throw himself in the path of a raging storm, Petronio combines inspiration from forces of nature, both environmental and human. The work portrays both the calm and anger of storms, while a sailor (performed by Petronio himself) rides along.

Petronio created I Drink the Air Before Me in celebration of this year’s 25th anniversary of the company. He comments, “Instead of looking back on our achievements like photographs of old friends, I have chosen to look to the future with a new work. I wanted to give a dance that spoke of riding the awesome and unpredictable forces of now, and I hope you will receive our presentation in that spirit of adventure and pleasure.”

The performance will be followed by a post-show talk with Ella Baff and Stephen Petronio.

Amanda Wells in a photo by Sarah Silver.

Tickets in the orchestra section of the theater are $38, mezzanine tickets are $32, and student and children’s tickets are $20.
The MASS MoCA Box Office hours are Wednesday through Monday, 11am – 5pm. To purchase by phone: call the Box Office at 413.662.2111. To order online: The Hunter Center and Box Office are located at 87 Marshall Street in North Adams, MA, 01247. MASS MoCA theaters are handicapped-accessible.

For additional information on Jacob’s Pillow or the 2010 Festival, visit