Thursday, June 25, 2020

Pioneer Valley Theatre News June 25, 2020

Pioneer Valley Theatre Newsletter
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June 25 - July 15, 2020

In his StageStruck column this week, Chris Rohmann highlights a couple of the Zoom plays you can watch this week that are listed below. Read more about Lullaby of Zoomland and An Evening with Ruth Draper here. And mark your calendars to watch them both this Friday!

The next issue will include events through July 22. Submit upcoming events via the link below or by emailing me before Tuesday at midnight. Any questions, comments or feedback? Email me at

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Email me to reserve your dates.
from Howlround

Lifting Up What We're Throwing Down
by Kirsten Greenidge

From the article: 

I began my tenure as Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence in 2016 with Boston, Massachusetts’ Company One Theatre (C1)—an organization that had been an artistic home to me long before I was part of the Mellon cohort. In a way, I grew up professionally with Company One, finding my footing as an emerging playwright both locally and nationally as C1 also grew in professionalism and reputation. One of the most fascinating elements of my work on staff here during the residency has been participating in C1’s revision of its mission to more transparently work for social justice and the subsequent programmatic adjustments in support of that mission. I’ve been part of department meetings, staff meetings, company retreats, production meetings, rehearsal processes, and community events where the coalescing questions are always: Are we being honest? Are we dreaming big enough? Is what we’re doing contributing positively to a healthier, more just, and more equitable Boston?

Have you read an interesting article about theatre recently? Send it to me!
Click to Access: Pioneer Valley Theatre Google Calendar
Click to Access: Pioneer Valley Theatre Personnel Spreadsheet
Silverthorne Theater Company will present a virtual live performance of comedy with An Evening with Ruth Draper via the LAVA Center in Greenfield on Friday, June 26, at 7:00 pm.
An inspired social satirist of the 1920s and beyond, Ruth Draper captivated audiences around the world with her one-woman monologues, often poking fun at the foibles of the bon vivant. Draper created whole casts of characters who would join her on stage, yet only in her – and the audience’s – imagination.
Actor Penney Hulten of Northfield will inhabit the world of Draper in two of her most delightful comedic monologues, The Italian Lesson and Doctors and Diets. The virtual fundraiser for Silverthorne Theater was an inspiration by Hulten, a 2009 graduate of the Ada Comstock Program at Smith College where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Theater. Coincidentally, Ruth Draper earned an honorary degree of doctor of humanities at Smith College in 1947.
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Hulten has been involved with Silverthorne Theater since 2017 in myriad capacities including gala planning, admin support, and even modeling for a recent costume fashion show. Her most enjoyable assignment, she says, was assisting backstage with quick costume changes for GREATER TUNA in 2018.
“They say drama is easy and comedy is hard,” says Hulten. “For me it is the other way around. I’m always at my happiest when I can make people laugh. During the Great Depression film makers such as Busby Berkeley created films to bring spectacle and distraction from everyday life to audiences suffering from the aftershocks of the stock market crash. I hope to bring some comic relief to those of us struggling with the current pandemic and other concerns.”
Hulten’s early influences include Lucille Ball, Barbra Streisand, Carol Burnett, Katherine Hepburn and Gilda Radner. “I learned from these women that it was alright to be an attractive, independent, intelligent woman and yet do comedy that pokes fun at oneself. As a matter of fact, I found them more appealing for having done so. To be able to laugh at ourselves – and the human condition – is a gift to others letting them know it’s okay to be our own totally human selves: flawed, silly, hypocritical, klutzy, fearful, hilarious – all of it!”
Draper had her own sense of the absurd, yet never made fun with her characters. “Everybody is rather ridiculous, rather pitiful,” she said. Yet there isn’t any malice or acerbity in her portrayals. She is sympathetic to people while at the same time sublimely pointing out their inherent shortcomings. Audiences can see themselves – their neighbors, family members – in her characters. Draper’s alternating comedy and pathos in her tales evokes a knowing solace and understanding that comforts as well as entertains.
An internationally acclaimed diseuse (a woman who is a skilled and usually professional reciter), Ruth Draper was born in 1884 in New York City. She began displaying her talents early, delighting her siblings by imitating the adults in their lives. Later, she began giving monologues at private parties and schools. In 1920 she made her professional debut at London’s Aeolian Hall. Her skits, as she called them, and her proclivities expanded as she extended her cast of characters.
Creating her own original material while keeping it all in her head, she entertained audiences around the country and around the world; most notably to King George V and Queen Mary of Britain, as well as the royal families of Spain and Belgium. World renowned artist John Singer Sargent created charcoal portraits of her, and she was a favorite among actors such as Katherine Hepburn, Helen Hays, Sarah Burnhardt, and Laurence Olivier. Shunning interviews, she disliked publicity yet filled theaters for runs on Broadway, in the West End and the like. Draper continued acting into her 70’s and died in her sleep after a performance in 1956 during the run of a Broadway engagement. 
Henry James was a friend of the Draper Family, and Ruth asked him if she should pursue a career as a professional actress. He said to her, “No, my dear child. You have woven your own beautiful little Persian carpet. Stand on it.
Draper brought humor and magic to her patrons, and Hulten hopes to bring some of that same enchantment to local audiences via Facebook Live. Hulten says, “Laughter is the best medicine, so I invite you for a spoonful. Broadway character Auntie Mame said, ‘Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.’ I say – come to the table and feast!”
As well as the live broadcast, the evening’s performance will be filmed and available on the Silverthorne website:
For more information about Silverthorne Theater or this performance, please call Lucinda Kidder at (413) 768-7514 or email

The LAVA Center to present COVID-19-themed online short play festival

WHAT: “From A Distance: 2020 (corona)vision(s),” an online short play festival

WHEN: Sunday, June 28, 2020, 2 p.m.

WHERE: Facebook live stream

Facebook event

CONTACT: or (413) 512-3063

The LAVA Center is proud to present “From A Distance: 2020 (corona)vision(s)”—an online short play festival. The festival will feature 18 short views of COVID-19 by local and regional artists Nina Gross, Karen Miller, Vanessa Query, Marlon Carey and Jan Maher.

The program will be produced by Jan Maher and directed by Jan Maher, Marlon Carey, and Vanessa Query.

The plays will be performed by local and regional performers Kyra Anderson, Jane Barish, Anna Baskowski, Sara Becker, Amanda Bowman, Adelaide Carey, Marlon Carey, Shannon Chabot, Rocco Tyler Desgres, Sarah Gruber, Kate and Ken Hebert, Ann and Ray Horn, Torie Jock, Rick Malone and Kimberly Salditt-Poulin.

The program will be followed by a Q&A with the playwrights and directors.

K and E Theater Group Presents Local Spotlight Series this Summer!

K and E Theater Group is excited to present its LOCAL SPOTLIGHT SERIES on Facebook, IGTV and YouTube celebrating Pioneer Valley’s theater artists. KETG Artistic Director Eddie Zitka hosts the summer series streaming online every Tuesday and Friday starting on May 26th and through the rest of the summer!

Stay tuned and check out our lineup by liking us on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribing to our YouTube channel! See you in the spotlight!
Double Edge is dreaming and planning 6 FEET APART, ALL TOGETHER, a Summer Spectacle for the time of COVID-19. The spectacle is inspired by and drawing from the rich history and favorite moments of our past performances, as well as looking toward a future including an ode to nature and our living culture. The entire main site of DE’s Farm would allow for limited audiences to spread out on a reflective and invigorating walk through scenes in the air, in the labyrinth, by the stream, in the arbor, and in the garden. Visitors will interact with the land, visual installation, and small scenes from the past, as well as a look toward what we are creating together for the future. 6 FEET APART, ALL TOGETHER will be performed in rounds to allow for less than ten people per group, and will take place at the end of July and a few weeks in August.

Box office opens June 15.

National Theatre Live YouTube Channel

Streaming will begin at 2 PM EST. 

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Bridge Theatre's immersive production of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy features Gwendoline Christie and Hammed Animashaun.

Streaming from 7pm Thursday 25 June until 2 July.

Les Blancs

YaĆ«l Farber directs the final play by Lorraine Hansberry: a brave, illuminating and powerful work that confronts the hope and tragedy of revolution.

Streaming from 7pm on 2 July, until 7pm on 9 July.

The Deep Blue Sea

Terence Rattigan’s devastating masterpiece contains one of the greatest female roles in contemporary drama, played by Helen McCrory.

Streaming from 7pm on 9 July, until 7pm on 16 July.


Lucian Msamati plays Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s iconic play, directed by Michael Longhurst with live orchestral accompaniment by Southbank Sinfonia.

Streaming from 7pm Thursday 16 July until 23 July.

Following up on its highly successful Theater Thursday play reading series last year, Silverthorne Theater Company will take advantage of the use of online streaming to bring three new plays to the Valley and beyond this summer through the 2020 Theater Thursday Play Reading Series. All three plays in this year’s series will be streamed free to Silverthorne’s Facebook page and will feature live discussions with the playwrights following the readings. The series is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council through the generous support of the Greenfield, Hadley and Buckland Cultural Councils.

On Thursday, July 16, the second Theater Thursday play will be read as a co-production with the Chester Theatre Company and will be directed by CTC’s Danial Elihu Kramer. Northampton playwright Darcy Bruce’s Soldier Poet is a prize-winning piece that was premiered by Theatre Prometheus in 2017 at the Anacostia Arts Center in Washington D.C.  The play centers on a gripping and timely story. In Aleppo two American Army Rangers rescue an injured Syrian woman about to give birth. At a nearby hospital, a neonatal nurse with an unwavering sense of duty struggles to save the lives of infants as her hospital is bombed.

The final 2020 Theater Thursday play, which streams on Thursday, August 20, is written by Northampton playwright, James McLindon – Distant Music.  Penney Hulten directs this complex piece set in January 2000. On a snowy night in an Irish pub in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Connor, Maeve and Dev meet, each agonizing over an irrevocably life-changing decision. The three fight over religion and beer, whether truth exists at all, the differences between the Irish and Irish-Americans, the many failings (according to Dev) of the latter, and, finally, the capacity of stout to explain, metaphorically and metaphysically, most of life. The play, winner of numerous awards, has been produced across the country and is published by Dramatic Publishing. The playwright will join in for a live post-show talk about the play.
From the New England New Play Alliance:

Virtual Theatre and Podcasts


Marc Hoffeditz and MJ Halberstadt present
an annotated sing-through of
Grindr (and other concerns), Act 1
libretto by MJ Halberstadt
music by Marc Hoffeditz
directed by Ingrid Island
June 26-27 

This annotated sing-through shares unforgettably naughty scenes and arias from this comedic chamber opera’s first act, along with candid and irreverent commentary about the opera’s development and subject matter, including queer identity in opera, open relationships, and hook-up culture. In lieu of charging admission, and in the spirit of Pride Month, we invite and encourage you to join us in supporting the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which protects and defends the rights of Black transgender people, by making a donation on their website. RSVP here.

The LAVA Center presents
From a Distance: 2020 (corona) vision(s)
June 28

An online short play festival featuring 18 short views of COVID-19 by LAVA Center Playwrights Lab members Nina Gross, Karen Miller, Vanessa Query, Marlon Carey, and Jan Maher. Watch performances here.

The Wilbury Theatre Group in Providence presents
Conversations with Heshie
by Lawrence Goodman
June 26 and streaming after.
Parts 1 & 2 streaming now available.

Meet Heshie Cantankorwitz. His nursing home is in lockdown. His neighbor Gloria is keeping him up all night with her coughing. His neurotic grandson Asher says it's the end of the world. They've even closed off-track betting.  Who can figure it out? All Heshie knows is that he's got a few things he'd like to get off his chest.  Over the course of three Zoom calls, the not-so-wise old man schools his grandson on the meaning of life and love, making a fast buck in the garment industry and the importance of a high-fiber diet. Conversations with Heshie is "The 2,000 Year Old Man" for the age of COVID-19 — chicken soup for the soul in our crazy, dark times. RSVP here.

Arlekin Players Theatre presents
State vs Natasha Banina
by Yaroslava Pulinovich
June 28

In State vs Natasha Banina, based on Natasha’s Dream by Yaroslava Pulinovich, a girl tells the story of her life in a small-town orphanage, and of her desire to be free. From the inside of a “ZOOM” court room, she will make twists and turns through her unique appeal to audiences as the jurors, letting them into her world where she dreams about love, family, acceptance, adjusting, and her future. Ultimately the two worlds collide and you get to decide her fate. RSVP here.

Links from last few weeks:
More excellent resources for freelance artists

This article has links to great free online trainings for theatre technology

More Digital Arts and Culture Resources

List of Arts Resources During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Stay At Home Fest: Online Entertainment Calendar

Join the New Performing Artists Network, created by Seth Lepore

UMass Arts Extension Services List of Resources

Live Puppet Theatre Online - from the Jim Henson Foundation

Even More Things to Stream While Broadway Is Shut Down

So many free online theatre streaming listings here.

Playwrights' Center offering classes and online events. 

The Play Reading Co-op is currently seeking submissions of full length plays from New England writers for a monthly, ongoing reading series. The mission of the co-op is simply for local theater makers to have a chance to get in a room together to work on high quality material for our own learning, enjoyment, and camaraderie. It's also a great way to learn about new works and writers. The reading is intended to be informal and without an audience other than other co-op “members” and potentially a friend or colleague(s) of the writer. If the writer is looking for a discussion or feedback afterward, we are happy to make space for that as well. We are ideally looking for plays with at least 2 female identifying roles.
As part of "How We Are Responding" to the current health pandemic and the impact it's having on our beloved theatre community, we at TCG are extending complimentary postings of temporary / flexible / tele-commuting positions (artistic AND non-artistic) on ARTSEARCH®. 

This opportunity is open to ALL, in support of theatre-makers looking for immediate temporary work to alleviate the financial crisis that has resulted from the spread of the virus.
The Northampton Arts Council is now accepting performer applications for First Night Northampton 2021.

On Thursday December 31, 2020 the Northampton Arts Council will present the 36th annual community New Year’s Eve celebration and festival of performing arts. Since 1985, First Night Northampton has filled the Paradise City with a 12-hour family-friendly festival of the arts, culminating in a traditional ball-raising from the roof of the Hotel Northampton. Proceeds from First Night Northampton will benefit local artists and community arts activities. 

We look forward to receiving many proposals and to creating a diverse, exciting, family-friendly event. Complete and submit the application no later than August 31, 2020. Proposals are reviewed as they are received, so early applications are recommended. Please submit separate applications for each proposal. Proposals without support materials will not be reviewed. We will be notifying applicants at the end of September. To apply to perform at First Night Northampton please complete the online application which can be found here.

Contact: Steve Sanderson, Events Producer, 413-587-1247,

Photo Credit: Steven E Nanton


Phantom Sheep Productions, in partnership with Unity House Players
LaughCrafters: Connections

Meets every Monday online

Join us for our weekly jam to play short form improv games together! Keep your brains in shape, meet new people, laugh, and stay connected!

Recommended for adults and teens 15+  All levels welcome!

Facebook event

The event is free. Donations are accepted.
Registration is required.
A Practical Yet Transformative Plan
If you are delving into the strategic planning process for the first time or feel you need to refresh your skills, check out the Arts Extension Service's online Strategic Planning course offered this summer.

Lisa Barnwell Williams, Instructor of the AES Strategic Planning course says,“After building a custom-tailored "plan-to-plan", each student (and their case organization) will be well on the road to a strategic plan that is a practical roadmap, not a document on a shelf.”

Staying relevant to what’s happening, all AES classes will address  cultural inequities and the COVID-19 crisis and how it is affecting our field. If you work for a cultural organization or plan to open a new organization, you can use it as your case study.

Summer Courses -  July 6 - August 14

Grantwriting for the Arts
Strategic Planning

Not sure which class to take, or which certificate to pursue? Connect with us at and we’ll help you design your course of study.


Saturdays from 1-2pm, starting May 9th

Completely Ridiculous Productions and The Northampton Center for the Arts would like to welcome you to the Pioneer Valley’s one and only Laughing Club!

In this weekly meetup we will gather together for an hour on zoom, introduce ourselves, warm up our bodies, have some fun and laugh ‘til it hurts.


Because we believe it is important to remind ourselves that it's ok to live in a happy body and laugh uproariously, especially in such crazy and chaotic times.

But seriously, Why?

Because laughter is a necessary survival skill, that's why.  Also, super serious people like Doctors, Ministers and Therapists all around the world say that laughter strengthens the immune system, purges toxins, burns calories, works as a natural anti-depressant and keeps us resilient, happy and healthy! Laughter is the Best Medicine after all - and it's FREE!! 

The PVLC is open to any and everyone, and just like going to the gym or taking a yoga class, there is nothing performative about it. However, a sense of humor will most certainly help - so be sure to bring yours along!

Each session is $15 suggested donation benefitting both the NCFA and Completely Ridiculous Productions. To sign up, please email

What in the what is Completely Ridiculous Productions?

CRP is a performance laboratory/training center dedicated to professional actor training, developing and producing new works of physical comedy, and strengthening each individual’s Empathic Vulnerability - the willingness to fully see and be seen by an other, while staying open to the possibility of being changed. For more information visit the website.

And who the heck is running this thing anyway?

Professional Laugher since birth, Gabe Levey is an actor/theatre maker who recently moved back to Northampton. In addition to running workshops and producing shows in the valley, Gabe teaches Physical Acting, Clown, Clown to Text and Shakespeare Performance at NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. Founding Artistic Director, Completely Ridiculous Productions. MFA, Yale School of Drama.

KoFest presents
July 23-26 + Aug. 2 & 9, 2020
plus a 30 min one-on-one with the instructor
Contemplative Practice for Writers
This world is begging us to find new ways of being together, being in the world, being creative, being with ourselves, and deep introspection. In this online workshop, you will learn contemplative practices of body, energy and mind, and how to integrate them with writing prompts structured to undo restrictive habits of writing and thinking. Together, these new habits can become a daily practice of access to the stillness and silence that is home to your wild and... 
Being Self
with Joe Dulude II - email  to register
Being self is a unique online camp experience for LGBTQ+ kids ages 15-18 that runs from August 10-14, 2020 from 1:00-4:00 pm at a cost of $100.
Each day will be a 2-3 hour session involving theatre, self-discovery and artistic activities.  The goal of the camp is to help young people discover who they are in this moment and who they would like to become.
All activities lead to a final video project where campers will record a documentary of who they are.  These videos will be edited together into a short film which will be shown on Eggtooth Productions website.
The camp will be led by Joe Dulude II, himself a member of the LGBTQ+ community.  Joe has worked the last 8 years as a Program Director for Camp Highlight and has developed several workshops on identity.
Joe Dulude II is probably best known for his Broadway, Off-Broadway and West End makeup designs on such productions as Wicked, Beetlejuice, Spongebob Squarepants the Musical, Torch Song, Sunday in the Park with George, Anastasia, Sweet Charity, Holiday Inn, Allegiance, Dr. Zhivago, On the Town, If/Then, Beautiful, The Wedding Singer, Grease!, Follies, Jekyll & Hyde and many more.
Joe is also a fine artist, showing work in NYC and his current home in western MA, performing artist  and drag queen, having created the  character of Mr Drag with his good friend Kat playing his associate, Karl.

Pioneer Valley Theatre Companies
Is your theatre company missing? Email me!
Academy of Music Theatre

Arena Civic Theatre

Black Cat Theater

Chester Theatre Company


Cold Spring Community Theatre

Completely Ridiculous Productions

Drama Studio

Double Edge Theatre

Eggtooth Productions

Exit 7 Players

Franklin County Youth Theater

Ghost Light Theater

Greenfield Community College's Theater Department

Hampshire Shakespeare Company

Happier Valley Comedy

Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center

Ja'Duke Center for the Performing Arts

K and E Theater Group

Ko Theater Works/Ko Festival of Performance

Majestic Theater

New Century Theatre

No Theater
Northampton Community Arts Trust

Northampton Playwrights Lab

PaintBox Theatre


Pauline Productions

Real Live Theatre

Red Thread Theater

Royal Frog Ballet

Serious Play Theatre Ensemble

Shakespeare Stage

Shea Theater Arts Center

Silverthorne Theater

Smith College Department of Theatre

St. Michael's Players

Starlight's Youth Theatre, Inc.

Strident Theatre


Turbulent Times Theater

UMass Department of Theater

UMass Theatre Guild

Valley Light Opera

Westfield Theatre Group

Wilbraham United Players
Want to know even more about events in the Pioneer Valley and beyond,
including reviews, interviews, and previews?
Pioneer Valley Theatre Google Calendar
In the Spotlight, Inc.

Berkshire on Stage
ArtsBeat Radio and News Column
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