Here be dragons … and fireflies and courage #this weekend

What would you do if you knew the school where you have taught for ten years will close if you can’t bring up your test scores to meet an arbitrary government mandate? And the school is giving the kids most of their community and stability — food, jackets in winter, the only medical care they have when they’re sick.

Ben asks the question as he and Scarlet (BTW interns) and I walk out from the opening night of ABCD at Barrington Stage. We’re thinking of the choices the characters have to face, and the stakes, and their strengths.

Davon, the math teacher at his struggling public school, is coaching the basketball team and talking a twelve-year-old boy through panic at midnight. Bilal, who moved here from Baghdad as a boy, is facing intense pressure at his prep school and trying to help a friend …

We’re standing on the sidewalk outside the St. Germain stage, talking over the play, and the cast are sharing a toast after their first performance. They’re outside because of Covid, and so we have glimpses of the playwright, May Treuhaft-Ali, saying thank you.

This is her first play to be performed, artistic director Julianne Boyd told us as the play began, and so it may be the first time May has seen her words alive on stage like this. She is laughing, and the cast seem punch-drunk. People are breaking into spontaneous dance, and even outdoors their voices fill the lot.

When we walk by toward the cars, we stop to congratulate people. Scarlet is talking with Pearl Shin, who plays Bilal’s friend Sunghee, and one of the actors happens to have been in school with me when we were the age of some of the students in the play — Juri and I haven’t run across each other since he last performed at BSC — and the cast surrounds us with the warm energy of opening night.

This weekend …

Tanglewood begins, the Roots play Mass MoCA, theaters are open on all their stages and fireflies are out in the meadows — summer’s in full swing. At Barrington Stage Company, Justin Adhoot appears as Bilal, at the top, and with Juri Henley-Cohen as his father, Ibrahim, and Pearl Shin as Sunghee below, as Brandon St. Clair as Davon Lawrence laughs with Torée Alexandre as Tamara Gardner in ABCD. (Press photos by Daniel Rader, courtesy of BSC).

Events coming up …

Find more art and performance, outdoors and food in the BTW events calendar.

Pastries topped with nuts and frosting gleam at the Break Room cafe in GreylockWorks, in North Adams.
Oct 1 2023 @ 9:30 am
GreylockWorks brings a mini makers market with a rotating array of local artisans, open studios and thoughtful food and drinks from The Break Room.
Kenneth Tigar stars in The Happiest Man on Earth, adapted from Eddie Jaku's memoir from World War II through a century. Press photo courtesy of Barrington Stage Company
Oct 1 2023 @ 1:30 pm
Eddie Jaku was a teenager as World War II began, and he survived Buchenwald, Auschwitz and a forced death march — a new play tells his story.
Justin Adhoot appears as Bilal as in ABCD. Press photos courtesy of Barrington Stage Company.
Oct 1 2023 @ 2:00 pm
In Sanaz Toossi's 2023 Pulitzer prizewinning play, four students meet regularly in a classroom in Iran, preparing to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language proficiency exam.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

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