Raise a glass to freedom and friendship — #Berkshireweekend

On the eve of the first 10×10 Festival, 11 years ago, I wrote a question from my desk at the Eagle — with a Smartphone and inside knowledge, what kind of film would I make about Pittsfield?

The funny thing is that now I can. I’m freelance, and I work from a laptop instead of an old mill. But I can carry film-editing tech in my pocket, and the core of what I do is still moving around out in the streets, talking to people.

If I could make a film from this last year, you’d see azaleas blooming on the ridge in late spring, and you’d hear Scarlet and Ben, my summer interns, talking on summer nights. We’d be picking up barbecue together at Smokey Divas and picnicking on the corner.

Pan out and we’re sitting on the steps outside Barrington Stage or Berkshire Theatre Group, exploring the night’s play, untangling layers of meaning and plot. You can catch a high glimmer and warm crowd of voices on the night we ran across the cast of ABCD all celebrating outside after their first show.

If I spun back over 10 years, the timelapse would be revealing. Looking across time reminds me of energy and makers that I miss. But we have new places and people coming in. Jacob’s Pillow brings Hip Hop, and Hot Plate Brewing Co. has turned the long-awaited opening of their taproom into a center for local voices, from Lara Tupper’s novels to Wanda Houston’s blues.

They’ll have events every night of the festival and 10 beers with local themes — and names that conjure characters in the winter night. Countess of Flanders honors Margaret II, an indomitable 13th-century leader called La Noire, and she will preside over a night of interactive trivia and a tribute to strong women.

At the same time, looking across these 10 years reminds me of energy I miss. The camera shows me a kaleidoscope of makers who are not here this year. Some of them have gone on to other places or shifted ground in the pandemic. But in past years, I remember Community theater and dance at the Whit, Marla Robinson’s choreography, the Berkshire Fringe Festival, WordxWord spoken word artists at Dottie’s, 10Spot artists gathering together …

I’m remembering nights I’d slip out of the newsroom on dinner break when Gabby Squalia and Emily Pulfer-Terrino led the open mics at YBar (an earlier incarnation of Methusela’s). They could get a crowd overflowing onto the sidewalk for haiku competitions and sharing favorite poets aloud.

And then on deadline, when I couldn’t get away, I’d pick up dumplings and shumai from Chin Lee and Sabrina Tanat Flavours of Malaysia and eat them at my desk.

Beer mugs catch the light on a dark wood table. Creative Commons courtesy photo

Beer mugs catch the light on a dark wood table. Creative Commons courtesy photo

This year’s 10×10 brings beer and fellowship at the new Hot Plate Brwing Co., original plays at Barrington Stage, live music around town …

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.

If you’d like to see the website grow, you can join me for a few dollars a month, enough for a cup of coffee and a cider doughnut. Members get access to extra stories and multimedia, itineraries a bookmark tool. Let me know what you're looking for, and we’ll explore together.

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