Bits & Bytes: Shoreline surveys; Pittsfield Green Drinks; Riotous Youth scholarship; Williams announces commencement speaker; ‘True West’ auditions

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By Friday, Mar 17 Life In the Berkshires
Avery Cunliffe
Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will give the commencement address at Williams College in Williamstown on Sunday, June 4 (see item below).

HVA to conduct shoreline surveys

Stockbridge — The Housatonic Valley Association invites interested individuals to help it form “Stream Teams” to complete river assessments of the southwest branch of the Housatonic River as well as the Green River this spring. “Stream Team” volunteers will walk or paddle along assigned segments of the rivers and record information along the way. The surveys will help HVA better assess the health of the rivers and what is needed in particular parts of the watershed. Training sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, April 4, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Mason Library in Great Barrington and Saturday, April 8, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield. For more information or to register for a training date, call HVA at (413) 298-7024 or email Alison at adixon@hvatoday.org.

–E.E.

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Pittsfield Green Drinks meeting to focus on solar urban planning

Pittsfield — Pittsfield Green Drinks will welcome urban planner, renewable energy professional and former Pittsfield planner Tory Hanna to its next meeting on Tuesday, March 21, at 5:15 p.m. at J. Allen’s Clubhouse Grille. Hanna will discuss his graduate thesis work in solar urban planning, which investigated the intersection of solar energy and urban planning, how renewable energy can proliferate in urban environments, and the numerous policy-barriers and conflicts that arise for policy makers, planners, and municipal practitioners when working toward renewable energy in cities.

Hanna is a certified urban planner and renewable energy professional who has worked in the Berkshires for the City of Pittsfield’s planning and community development department focusing on land use, brownfield redevelopment, and other community and municipal planning issues. His work also focused on coast resiliency, waterfront zoning and urban manufacturing through his time at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation in Brooklyn, New York. Hanna currently works for a solar startup company focused on site origination for large scale, ground-mounted and rooftop solar assets across the Northeast. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from UMASS Amherst, and a master’s degree from SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, in sustainable development and international development.

For more information, contact Judy Eddy at (413) 652-5387 or judy@thebeatnews.org.

–E.E.

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Shakespeare & Company announces Riotous Youth scholarship

Lenox — Shakespeare & Company has announced the Riotous Youth scholarship in honor of the memory of Chris Swaffar. Riotous Youth is an imaginative and playful summer theatre program for students age 7-18 that introduces students to the language, story, characters and ideas in Shakespeare’s plays. The Chris Swaffar Memorial Scholarship provides full tuition for one child. Students can be recommended for the scholarship by a teacher, guidance counselor or similar advisor.

During each two-week Riotous Youth session, students explore one of Shakespeare’s plays through games, activities and rehearsals and create a performance piece based on their explorations, which they then share with family, friends and Company members on the final day of the session. All Riotous Youth sessions incorporate voice, movement, acting and theatre games, which enable the young actors to explore the plays intellectually, physically and emotionally.

To register or recommend a student for the Chris Swaffar Memorial Scholarship, contact Shakespeare & Company’s education program at (413) 637-1199 x172 or education@shakespeare.org. Registration for Riotous Youth is ongoing but subject to space availability.

–E.E.

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Williams College announces commencement speaker, honorary degree recipients

Billy Collins. Photo: Suzannah Gilman

Billy Collins. Photo: Suzannah Gilman

Williamstown — Nigerian writer and MacArthur Foundation fellowship recipient Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be the principal speaker at Williams College’s 228th commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 4. Former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins will be the baccalaureate speaker on Saturday, June 3. Both will receive honorary degrees at the commencement, as will former Williams College provost and current president of Washington and Lee University Will Dudley, public health and environmental advocate Gina McCarthy, and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies director Gavin A. Schmidt.

Adichie’s work has been translated into more than 30 languages. Her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus,” won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and her second novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun,” won the Orange Prize. Her 2013 novel “Americanah” has received numerous accolades including the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of the New York Times’ top ten best books of the year. Adichie’s 2012 TED talk “We should all be feminists” was published as a book in 2014 and her most recent book, “Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,” was published in March 2017. Adichie grew up on the campus of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and left Nigeria for the U.S. at the age of 19. She graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in communication and political science. She went on to receive an MFA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and an MA in African history from Yale University.

–E.E.

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Ghent Playhouse to hold auditions for ‘True West’

The Ghent Playhouse.

The Ghent Playhouse.

Ghent, N.Y. — The Ghent Playhouse will hold auditions for the final production of its 2016-2017 season, “True West,” written by Sam Shepard and directed by Patrick White, on Monday, March 20, and Tuesday, March 21. Sign-in will be at 7 p.m. and auditions will begin at 7:15 p.m.

“True West” is a comedy of two estranged and seemingly different brothers locked into a self-destructive combat. The two are reunited after five years at their mother’s home in California when the elder brother breaks in. When the two are visited by Austin’s agent Saul Kimmer, Lee steals his attention, thrusting the play into verbal and physical violence as the two fight for possession and control. When their mother unexpectedly returns from her Alaskan cruise, she finds her two sons at each other’s throats. The two brothers represent the two sides of the American present: one sophisticated, cultured, ambitious and successful; the other alienated and outcast, raw, wild and violent. As the play unfolds, the two characters exchange places and reveal that each is the double of the other.

Actors are needed to fill the roles of three men–two in their 20s and one aged 30 to 70–and one woman aged 60 or older. Those auditioning will be asked to read specific scenes from the script. Performance dates are Friday, May 19, through Sunday, June 4. For more information, contact Patrick White at white.patrick1963@gmail.com.

–E.E.


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