Bits & Bytes: Elaine Gunn tribute; BPL staged reading; Robert Shaw film; ‘Travels With Satan’; poetry slam at The Mount

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By Monday, Jul 24 Arts & Entertainment
From left: Bea Kiggen, Olivia McCarthy and Ava Gerard will perform a gospel piece with the Olga Dunn Dance Company as part of the Lift Ev'ry Voice Festival on Saturday, July 29, in Great Barrington. Photo courtesy Olga Dunn Dance Company

Olga Dunn Dance Company tribute to Elaine Gunn

Great Barrington — In association with the Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival, Olga Dunn Dance Company will present a performance and tribute to African-American historian, lecturer and teacher Elaine Gunn on Saturday, July 29, at 7 p.m. at the historic railroad station, 46 Castle St.

Gunn’s legacy is focused on the history of W.E.B. Du Bois and the Underground Railroad as well as the importance of education in general. Dancers will perform five gospel pieces, each with a historical introduction, including a finale to the music of “Lift Ev’ry Voice” that was a favorite of Gunn. In addition, “Trio,” newly choreographed by Miami City Ballet’s Ariel Rose, will premier. The evening will also include a gathering with food and drink in tribute to Gunn.

Tickets are $20 and proceeds will go toward establishing a dance scholarship in Gunn’s name. Reservations are not required but can be made by calling the Olga Dunn Dance Company at (413) 528-9674.


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Berkshire Playwrights Lab to present ‘Eight Nights’

Jennifer Maisel. Photo: Chris Cava Preston

Jennifer Maisel. Photo: Chris Cava Preston

Great Barrington — On Wednesday, July 26, at 7:30 p.m., Berkshire Playwrights Lab will present a staged reading of “Eight Nights” by Jennifer Maisel at Saint James Place.

“Eight Nights” tells the story of the lives that inhabit an apartment from 1949 to 2016 and a young refugee woman, finally free to start anew in the United States, who confronts the past that haunts her.

Maisel is a three-time PEN West Literary Award finalist whose play “There or Here,” which is slated for a London premiere, was workshopped at PlayPenn in Philadelphia before its critically acclaimed run at New York City’s Hypothetical Theatre. She received an Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation commission for “Out of Orbit,” which won the Stanley Drama Award, made the 2016 Kilroys list for best unproduced plays by women and trans writers and won the 2017/18 Woodward/Newman Drama award. Maisel’s “@thespeedofJake” was Kilroys list-nominated in 2015 and premiered with Playwrights’ Arena in Los Angeles before being named a finalist for the Pen West Literary Award. Maisel also writes for film and television. She is a member of the Dramatists GuildDog Ear Playwrights Collective, the Playwrights Union and the Writers Guild of America.

Tickets are $15. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact BPL at (413) 528-2544.


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Cantilena Chamber Choir to screen ‘Robert Shaw — Man of Many Voices’

ShawFilm_Poster_NYT_11x17-nobleedLenox — The Cantilena Chamber Choir will present a screening of “Robert Shaw – Man of Many Voices” narrated by David Hyde Pierce on Friday, July 28, at 7 p.m. at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School’s Duffin Theater.

Despite very little formal musical training, Robert Shaw had an impact on more than just the world of music. As a symphonic conductor and the creator of exceptional choral values, Shaw’s legacy reaches beyond the awards, album sales and even the musical history he made. “Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices” is a chronological examination of Shaw’s remarkable life and meteoric rise to national fame. Interspersed with archival film and peer interviews, the film explores Shaw’s beginnings in a small California town through the challenges and triumphs of his serendipitous and improbable career.

Admission is $15. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact the Cantilena Chamber Choir at (518) 791-0185 or


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Bidwell House to present ‘Travels With Satan’

John Demos. Photo courtesy Bidwell House Museum

John Demos. Photo courtesy Bidwell House Museum

Tyringham — The Bidwell House Museum will present “Travels with Satan: Looking Back on Fifty Years as a Witchcraft Historian,” a talk by award-winning historian John Demos, on Saturday, July 29, at 10 a.m. at Tyringham Union Church.

In his talk, Demos will discuss the history of witchcraft and witch-hunting from the Middle Ages to the present day and his long engagement with the topic. In the course of his research, Demos learned of his own ancestral connection to a key figure in the Salem witch-hunt of 1692–93: John Putnam, his ancestor and a longtime Salem resident in the 17th century, had led the charge against the suspected witches in that notorious case.

Demos is the Samuel Knight Professor of American History Emeritus at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and an award-winning author. His 1982 book “Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England” won the Bancroft Prize. He published “The Enemy Within: A Short History of Witch-Hunting” in 2008 and his book “The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic” was a 2014 National Book Award nominee.

There is a suggested donation $15 for the general public and $10 for museum members. For more information, contact the Bidwell House Museum at (413) 528-6888 or


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WordXWord to host poetry slam at The Mount

Lenox — The WordXWord Festival will kick off Sunday, July 30, from 3 to 8 p.m. with it first ever Western Mass Team Poetry Slam at the Mount.

WordXWord has invited a number of Northeast-based teams to The Mount for one last regional competition before they head to the National Poetry Slam in Denver beginning on Monday, Aug. 7. Teams that have accepted the invitation include House Slam of Boston, which placed first at NPS 2015 and third at NPS 2016; Boston Poetry Slam; Lizard Lounge from Boston; Mill City Slam from Lowell; Union Square from New York City; Nitty Gritty Slam from Albany, New York; and the Home Team from Berkshire County.

Admission is free. Bouts scheduled for 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., followed by the championship bout at 7 p.m. The audience is welcome to take in a single bout or the entire tournament. The Mount welcomes the public to bring picnics to enjoy on the grounds between bouts. The audience is advised that the program may contain explicit content and is not appropriate for children and younger teens. For more information, contact WordXWord at


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