The weekend highlights in our region include an experimental theater premiere; the return of a legendary modern dance troupe; a festival of klezmer and Yiddish music, and a whole lot more.
It’s time to fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the rollercoaster ride at the Bard SummerScape Festival at Bard College, running now through mid-August. This weekend’s highlight is the world premiere of a new production by the legendary experimental theater company, the Wooster Group. Titled A PINK CHAIR (IN PLACE OF A FAKE ANTIQUE), the new work is an homage to the late visionary Polish artist and director Tadeusz Kantor. Drawing inspiration from European Expressionism, Dadaism, Russian constructivism and the Bauhaus – as well as from American avant-garde movements such as happenings – Kantor became best-known in the West for his “Theater of Death”: a series of surrealistic works in which, in the shadow of Poland’s experience of war and totalitarianism, he sought to create what he called “a bridge between the audience and the kingdom of death.” Sounds like my kind of night at the theater. Plus - a bit of trivia: Among the stellar cast at Bard is none other than Suzzy Roche, best known as a member of the singing sister trio the Roches. “A Pink Chair” runs tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30, Sunday at 2pm, and then picks back up next Wednesday for a daily run through the following Sunday.
At Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass., this weekend, in addition to Paul Taylor Dance Company’s return after a decade-long hiatus, Israeli ensemble Roy Assaf Dance makes its U.S. debut. The program opens with Assaf’s embracing duet Six Years Later, which traces the course of a relationship over six turbulent years. The dance, which includes music by Beethoven and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, was awarded first prize in choreography at the 5th International Choreography Competition in Copenhagen. Assaf’s program closes with his all-male trio dance, The Hill, inspired by veterans’ experiences and based on the Hebrew song “Givat HaTachmoshet.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Stacy Schiff will discuss the intersection of politics and paranoia as part of the Food for Thought monthly dinner series at Hancock Shaker Village tonight at 6pm. A native of Adams, Mass., who majored in art history at Williams College - where she and I were classmates - Schiff is a best-selling author whose most recent book is “The Witches: Salem 1692.” Over a farm-to-table dinner, Schiff will talk about the Salem witch trials: what we know, what we think we know, and what we should know – and how it all relates to our current situation.
And finally, the sixth annual Yidstock: The festival of New Yiddish Music, at the Yiddish Book Center, in Amherst, Mass., takes place today through Sunday night. Returning stars of Yidstock include Eleanor Reissa, Hankus Netsky, Frank London and Lorin Sklamberg of the Klezmatics, and Lauren Brody. Alicia Svigals, a cofounder of the Klezmatics, who is widely regarded as the world’s greatest klezmer fiddler, makes her Yidstock debut on Sunday afternoon. (Incidentally, Svigals also performs at PS21 in Chatham, N.Y., on Saturday, at 8pm) And Andy Statman, the world’s greatest klezmer clarinetist, makes his Yidstock debut on Sunday night. This weekend’s festival will also feature a rare staging of the multimedia oratorio “A Night at the Old Marketplace,” based on the groundbreaking 1907 modernist play of the same name by I.L. Peretz, the father of Yiddish literature. The theatrical work, which takes place on Saturday night at 8, features music composed by Frank London. In addition, Yidstock will include a full schedule of talks, readings, and singing, dancing, and instrumental workshops.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com