Arts Briefs: Lots of theater in Northampton, Indian poetry and music in South Hadley, and more

Linda Tardif, in foreground, joins Christine Stevens and Bill Stewart in a scene from “Circling Suspicion” at Historic Northampton last August, a short play about a woman accused of witchcraft in the town in the 1670s.

Linda Tardif, in foreground, joins Christine Stevens and Bill Stewart in a scene from “Circling Suspicion” at Historic Northampton last August, a short play about a woman accused of witchcraft in the town in the 1670s. Staff Photo/Carol Lollis

The musical “Zanna, Don’t!” by K & E Theater Group takes place at the Northampton Center for the Arts June 27-29.

The musical “Zanna, Don’t!” by K & E Theater Group takes place at the Northampton Center for the Arts June 27-29. Image from K & E Theater Group

“Sorry,” a watercolor and mixed media work by Lyn Horan, is part of a group exhibit at New England Visionary Artists Museum in Northampton on the problems in U.S. health care.

“Sorry,” a watercolor and mixed media work by Lyn Horan, is part of a group exhibit at New England Visionary Artists Museum in Northampton on the problems in U.S. health care. Image from New England Visionary Artists Museum website

Vocalist Maitreyee Chakraborty is part of a June 29 concert in Soutyh Hadley that celebrates the work of 19-20th century Bengali poet and lyricist Rabindranath Tagore.  

Vocalist Maitreyee Chakraborty is part of a June 29 concert in Soutyh Hadley that celebrates the work of 19-20th century Bengali poet and lyricist Rabindranath Tagore.   Image courtesy Halcyon Arts New England

From left, Marcus Neverson, Stephanie Reyes and Kermit  Dunkelberg portray three people cast together by the climate crisis in Serious Play Theatre Ensemble’s production “Moving Water.”

From left, Marcus Neverson, Stephanie Reyes and Kermit  Dunkelberg portray three people cast together by the climate crisis in Serious Play Theatre Ensemble’s production “Moving Water.” courtesy Serious Play Theatre Ensemble

“Road to Truchas Fields,” pastel painting by Janet Palin

“Road to Truchas Fields,” pastel painting by Janet Palin Image from Janet Palin website

Published: 06-20-2024 2:47 PM

Pulling at the roots: Plays cover 3 centuries of city history — again

NORTHAMPTON — Last August, Historic Northampton presented a new way of examining some chapters of city history by staging three short plays at the museum, including two that took place in the property’s recently restored, 218-year-old Shepherd Barn.

All three plays sold out, so Historic Northampton has brought the productions back this year for some additional runs, on June 22-23, June 28-29, and July 5-7. (Shows for others dates in June had sold out by press time.)

The short dramas, collectively called “Pulling at the Roots,” cover three centuries of Northampton history, starting with “Circling Suspicion” (by Talya Kingston), which tells the tale of Mary Bliss Parsons, imprisoned and then tried by jury in 1670 after neighbors accused her of witchcraft.

“Rose” (Jasmine Rochelle Goodspeed) looks at the relationship between the famous 18th century pastor Jonathan Edwards and Rose Binney, a woman he had enslaved, as they both face having to leave Northampton.

And “The Optimist’s Razor” (Patrick Gabridge) examines a pivotal moment in the life of Lydia Maria Child, the writer and abolitionist, and her husband, David, who lived in Florence in the late 1830s/early 1840s.

Two of the plays take place in the Shepard Barn and a third on the museum grounds (the latter will move indoors in the event of rain).

Tickets are by general admission, with a sliding scale of $15 to $50. Advance registration is required; visit historicnorthampton.org and follow the link to the event.

 

Facing a climate crisis

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NORTHAMPTON — “Moving Water,” a multimedia theater production that examines the threat of rising seas and other threats posed by climate change, is returning to 33 Hawley after further development over the past few years.

The production, created by Serious Play Theatre Ensemble, debuted at the unfinished Workroom Theater at 33 Hawley in 2021. Now, after further refinement and recasting, the play returns June 20-23 for four performances at the now-completed Workroom.

Set during the end stages of a pandemic, “Moving Water” presents three people living in a coastal apartment building who find themselves thrown together in an existential struggle hinging on their personal stances on climate change, including rising seas and threatening rain storms.

With English/Spanish text and original music composed for water glass, the production is designed “to bring audiences into a deeper understanding of our human relationship to water,” according to production notes.

Performances take place June 20-22 at 8:30 p.m. and June 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at seriousplay.org.

In addition, Serious Play is hosting a free climate forum, with a number of panelists, at the Workroom Theater June 22 at 4 p.m. to explore the need to move away from fossil fuels. Audience members can learn about ways to take part in local efforts to advance a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty initiative.

 

A different take on sexuality

NORTHAMPTON — Also at 33 Hawley, the Northampton Center for the Arts will host “Zanna, Don’t!” a musical set in a parallel universe where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality is taboo.

Produced by K and E Theater Group, “Zanna, Don’t!” takes place June 27-29 at 8 p.m. and June 28-29 at 2 p.m. at the Center for the Arts.

The play is set at the imaginary Heartsville High, where everyone — well, nearly everyone — is gay. But when students and staff begin production of the school musical, a controversial show called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” about straight people in the military, a young man and woman fall in love. That’s the cue, as production notes put it, for the entrance of Zanna, “a magical, musical fairy who, with a wave of his wand, brings true love to one and all.”

Tickets for “Zanna, Don’t!” are available at ketg.org. The musical is directed and choreographed by Eddie Zitka; the book, music and lyrics are by Tim Acito.

 

An artistic look at the crisis in U.S. health care

NORTHAMPTON — “Side Effects II,” a group exhibit at New England Visionary Artists Museum, examines the pitfalls of a health care system that favors corporate profit over genuine healing, as well as a society and entertainment industry obsessed with youth and beauty.

The exhibit includes the work of 11 artists and is curated by Lynn Horan, who contributes a watercolor/mixed media work offering a sardonic takeoff on the board game Sorry!, which becomes a dead end for a woman navigating the game board while in a wheelchair.

“What happens when our bodies fail us or don’t meet a norm of perfection … illness, disability, accidents, addiction, trauma at any age?” exhibit notes state. “Or when society still dictates what a ‘good’ body looks like … youth, skin color, size, beauty?”

“Side Effects II: When the Mind Makes Promises the Body Can’t Fill” runs through June 28.

 

A musical and poetic taste of India

SOUTH HADLEY — Rabindranath Tagore, a revered Bengali poet, writer, playwright, and composer, was the first non-European and the first lyricist to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1913.

Now Tagore’s poems and songs, many of a deeply philosophical nature, will get a hearing in the Valley, in a June 29 concert at 7 p.m. at All Saints’ Episcopal Church.

The concert, produced by Halcyon Arts New England, will feature Maitreyee Chakraborty on vocals, Mona Roy on harmonium, and Debajyoti Basu on guitar and keyboard.

According to Halcyon, Chakraborty, whose musical education began as a young child, is “a devoted practitioner of Rabindrasangeet,” a musical tradition inspired by Tagore.

“Bengali,” she said in a statement, “is one of the most melodically beautiful languages, a language brimming with depth and subtlety.”

The performers at the June 29 concert will present poems and songs by Tagore that are relevant to today’s world, according to Halcyon, and all words and lyrics will be translated on a screen.

Tickets are available at hartsne.org or by calling (413) 345-2917.

 

A family affair

EASTHAMPTON — The Oxbow Gallery will open a new exhibit June 27 featuring paintings by Janet Palin and her daughter, Molly Levine, who’s based in Maine.

Palin is a former oil painter who switched to working with pastels, with a focus on landscapes, over 25 years ago following a visit to Iceland. In addition to panoramas from Iceland, Palin has also captured many sweeping views of the U.S. Southwest and West.

“My work since 1997 has been about open spaces and the relationship between the sky and the land,” she noted in an email.

Her daughter, she said “is interested in the built landscape, constructed and deconstructed, in relation to the natural landscape. We have both been drawn to Iceland among other places.”

The upcoming Oxbow show, which will run through July 28, will also feature work by Diane Travis, a sculptor/installation artist who turns materials such as flags remnants, linens, towels, old toys and worn clothing into themed pieces.

An artists’ reception for the exhibits takes place July 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.

— Compiled by Steve Pfarrer