Berkshire performers are navigating in a virtual world. It can be a change. We have to keep a physical distance, and performance is supposed to come close. But the essence of it can come through.
Have you ever hung out with actors rehearsing — or played a theater game? There’s a high energy in the room. You can be dramatic. You can be anything, like a child inventing a world. Swim with whales. Leave the planet. Travel in time. Learn to fly.
Around the Berkshires, performers are holding onto that kind of energy, and they are sharing it. Some of our theaters are expanding their Youtube channels. Some of our musicians are giving free concerts. Some of our dancers are leading workshops so we can move around in our living rooms.
In an overwhelming time, a touch of play and movement may help, as we get by from one day to the next.
Barrington Stage on Netflix
Barrington Stage has a performance we can see at home — their world premiere play ‘American Son’ went on to Broadway and is now appearing in a new adaptation. It tells the story of Kendra Ellis-Connor (Kerry Washington) and her husband, on the night when their teenage son goes missing. He is well educated, responsible, successful, and biracial. And his parents are struggling to put the pieces together in a South Florida police station.
Berkshire Museum: Little Cinema
The Little Cinema at Berkshire Museum presents a series of films to watch at home, beginning with Botero, a close look at the life and art of Fernando Botero, an intensely private painter and sculptor, and one of the world’s most recognized living artists.
Filmmaker Don Millar shows Botero’s commitment to a unique artistic vision power his rise from provincial Colombia to become “the Maestro,” still active in his studio at 86 years old. The museum is also creating regular podcasts and explorations of its collection.
Berkshire Theatre Group
BTG is now offering couch concerts on their Facebook Page with performers from their stages and weekly programs from artists and alumni.
They are planning new classes each week, they say, beginning with Storytelling Through Song for middle school and high school students and Homegrown Crafts for families.
Boston Symphony Orchestra at home
While we wait for Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is offering the BSO at Home: playlists of favorite music, behind-the-scenes conversations with musicians, family lessons, performances: they will stream a Concert for Our City from April 5 at 3pm through May 20.
Conductor Thomas Wilkins led cellist Sterling Elliot and composer and singer Huang Ruo and the BSO in Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from the opera Eugene Onegin, Ginastera’s Malambo from Estancia Dances, Huang Rup’s Folksongs for Orchestra: II. Love Song from Kang Ding and IV. The Girl from Da Ban City, and works from Walker, Dvorak and Brahms.
Good Question and Williams a cappella
Williams College is rich in a cappella groups — students who sing together for the sheer fun of it. You can catch Good Question on its own robust Youtube channel singing Michael Jackson’s Human Nature to Super Trouper … and listen to songs or full concerts.
The students often arrange their own music, and they sing without instruments except for a wide range of vocal percussion. In the same fellowship, you can find the Williams Ephlats and the Springstreeters and Ephoria, the Accidentals and the Octet …
Great Barrington Public Theatre
Great Barrington Public Theatre is offering Bear Tales: Six Feet Together, a free, full-length series of new solo online performances by Berkshire playwrights, storytellers and performers, including a new filmed monologue by David Mamet, with Rebecca Pidgeon as famed reporter Dorothy Kilgallen. You can tune in at greatbarringtonpublictheater.org.
Williamstown’s century-old house of independent film is offering Images Online — a virtual river of new films while the physical cinema is temporarily closed — from comedy to noir, from a nanny trying to connect with the girl she cares for and navigating family, in Saint Frances, to the life of biologist Anne Innis Dagg in The Woman Who Loves Giraffes.
Images will split the cost of each online “ticket” sold with the film distributors, so each film will directly help the theater weather these challenging times. You can find this week’s lineup in the BTW events calendar and upcoming films at Images Cinema
Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival has years of dance and music to absorb and explore at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive. You can check out playlists like a celebration of women in dance. And feel the swing as master choreographer and dancer Camille A. Brown.
In the weeks ahead, the Pillow will also bring new virtual content from their extensive dance archives and new ways to connect digitally with Festival 2020 artists, and they will host a new series of online PillowTalks curated by their Director of Preservation, Norton Owen.
Nationally known singer-songwriter through her Facebook page.
She has performed across the country for many years with Dar Williams, the Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffin, Pete Seeger, Ellis Paul, Livingston Taylor, Odetta, Christine Lavin, Patty Larkin, Catie Curtis … You can listen in on earlier concerts like this for an hour of live music.
Misty Blues Band with Gina Coleman
Gina Coleman and her Misty Blues Band are performing virtual concerts free on Friday nights at the band’s Facebook Page.
Gina is a Williams alum with a deep and powerful voice, and she has performed the Williamstown Theater Festival as the lead gospel singer in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ and at NYC’s famed Bitter End and with Misty Blues at Mass MoCa’s blues festival and with Charles Neville from the legendary Neville Brothers, among many others.
Berkshire violinist and composer Todd Reynolds is a key player at Bang on a Can at Mass MoCA, and he is making music from home, in North Adams, with friends at a distance. You can hear him here on Instagram as @Digifiddler in an ‘Iso jam’ with composer and bassist Darren Solomon @darsolo joining him from Brooklyn.
Reynolds has performed widely, with artists from Steve Reich to Meredith Monk and Yo-yo Maand he creates his own blend of minimalist, pop, Jazz, Indian, African, Celtic and folk music. You can listen to his first solo album, Outerborough, with original music and compositions by composed by Phil Kline, Michael Gordon, Nick Zammuto, Michael Lowenstern, David T. Little, Paul DeJong, Ken Thomson, Paula Matthusen, and David Lang.
Shaken not Stircrazy movement classes
Tom Truss is a performing artist and teacher for 30 years — a dancer, actor, choreographer and director — and he is leading free Shaken not Stircrazy movement classes on Zoom for adults every Thursday and Sundays from 5 to 6 p.m. EST, and for families and kids every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 2 p.m.
He is known widely as a dance teacher with Flying Cloud Institute and Berkshire Pulse — and all the classes are free. “The important thing is to move,” he says (on Facebook). “These will not be your traditional modern dance classes, so show up in jeans, sweats, your favorite dress or scrappy tutu.
Aimee Gelinas will lead online West African and Caribbean drum classes from the Tamarack Hollow Nature and Cultural Center in Windsor on Monday and Thursday evenings.
She will teach a beginner / intermediate class on Mondays from 6 to 7 p.m. and an intermediate/advanced class on Mondays from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. and a mixed-level class on Thursdays in April from 3 to 4 p.m. These are classes, with a class size and fees. You can email email@example.com to learn more.
UnCancelled Music Festival
A group of musicians and arts and music managers across the country have come together to create an ongoing online UnCancelled Music Festival, welcoming musicians to their virtual stages including Berkshire singer-songwriter Izzy Heltai.
The festival runs continually as a benefit for musicians in these hard times. You can tune into a concert for ¢10 — they ask for a minimum donation of $5 to begin, which will get you into 50 stages.
Williamstown Theatre Festival online
Williamstown Theatre Festival has promised that until the theater can open physically, their actors and directors will still make the season of new work they have planned. They will create seven new productions, working with Audible, the world’s largest producer of spoken word entertainment and audiobooks, “in a format safe to elevate, entertain, transport, reveal, unmask and transform audiences from the comfort of their homes.”
The festival also has its own WTF Youtube channel, and you can get behind the scenes with programs like CommunityWorks. You can feel the energy that powers the festival in a light-hearted lip dub 2019 to Juice, from the non-equity and apprentice companies to the people who create their scenes design and paints, costumes and props, and the management and development teams.