Bits & Bytes: Teens, The Bard,  and BIFF

Fall Festival of Shakespeare

Lenox – The Fall Festival of Shakespeare performances has a reputation for powerful interpretations of the Bard’s works. Is it something about teenagers, perhaps?

“When these high-energy teenagers set loose the power of Shakespeare’s language in front of packed houses, the thrill is contagious,” proclaims Shakespeare & Company’s web site.

The annual Fall Festival of Shakespeare is a nine-week residency program at high schools throughout western Massachusetts and parts of neighboring New York State. Shakespeare & Company directors at each school lead nearly 500 students through a language-based exploration of a Shakespeare play, culminating in a full-scale production performed on Shakespeare & Company’s Tina Packer Playhouse for the public from November 20-23.

“Each year the Festival brings Shakespeare’s plays alive for hundreds of students who, in the process, both discover and reveal what it means to be human,” said Education Director Kevin G. Coleman. “This is the essence of theatre, and the heart of education.”

Led by Director of Education Kevin G. Coleman and Associate Director of Education Jenna Ware, the Fall Festival is a celebration, rather than a competition. Students are encouraged to delve into Shakespeare’s works, unpacking the language and savoring the humor, intensity and transcendent beauty of Shakespeare’s plays. Daily rehearsals focus on students’ personal responses to the text and connection to language. Students also have the opportunity to develop skills in stage combat, performance aesthetics, dance, technical theatre, stage management and marketing and publicity. Shakespeare & Company’s set, prop, lighting, sound, technical and costume staff collaborate with the directing teams and students to create a unique design for each play.

The Festival kicks off at each high school from November 13 through 15.

Monument Mountain Regional High School – The Winter’s Tale – Thursday, Nov. 13th at 7 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 14th at 7p.m.

Mt. Greylock Regional High School – The Winter’s Tale – Friday, Nov. 14th at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 15th at 7p.m.

Taconic High School – Twelfth Night – Thursday, Nov. 13th at 7 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 14th at 7 p.m.
Lenox Memorial High School – Hamlet – Thursday, Nov. 13th at 7 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 14th at 7 p.m.
Lee High School – Richard III – Friday, Nov. 14th at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 15th at 7 p.m.
Mt. Everett Regional High School – Henry V – Friday, Nov. 14th at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 15th at 1 p.m.
Chatham High School — Hamlet – Friday, Nov. 14th at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 15th at 7 p.m.
Taconic Hills High School –- A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Friday, Nov. 14th at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 15th at 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Shows at the Tina Packer Playhouse, 70 Kemble St., Lenox, Mass.:

Thursday, November 20 through Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thursday 6:15 – Welcoming
Thursday 6:30 – Chatham High School – Hamlet
Thursday 8:30 – Lee High School – Richard III
Friday 6:30 – Lenox Memorial High School – Hamlet
Friday 8:30 – Mt. Greylock Regional High School – The Winter’s Tale
Saturday 1:30 – Monument Mountain Regional High School – The Winter’s Tale
Saturday 3:30 – Taconic High School – Twelfth Night
Saturday 6:15 – Mt. Everett Regional High School  – Henry V
Sunday 1:30 – Taconic Hills High School – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Sunday 5:00 – Closing celebration
The 26th Annual Fall Festival of Shakespeare was made possible in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, Berkshire Bank, Country Curtains, The Red Lion Inn and the generous support of the participating high schools, and a coalition of individuals, families and businesses.

— H.B.

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BIFF year round: ‘Rosewater’ and ‘Chasing Ice’

Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) and The Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield are co-presenting Rosewater on Thursday, November 13 at 7:30 p.m. Rosewater is a 2014 drama written and directed by Jon Stewart based on the memoir, Then They Came for Me, by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy. Bahari was imprisoned in Iran because of his interview on The Daily Show in 2009. The interview was used by Iranian authorities as evidence that Bahari was in contact with an American spy. Iran’s State TV has accused Stewart of working with the CIA and having Zionist funding. See the trailer here:


General admission is $15, REEL Friends $13

BIFF’s REEL Friends is a year–round film society. For details go to  Members are asked to bring their membership cards with them to all REEL Friends and BIFF events to ensure full benefits of their membership at events.

A “Best of Fest” screening of Chasing Ice, a documentary about climate change, will be held at the Triplex on Sunday, November 16 at 11 am. Admission is $10 for non-members and free for REEL Friends.

See the trailer:


“Best of Fest” is a film series at 11 a.m. the third Sunday of each month, leading up to our 10th Anniversary Festival, May 28 through 31, 2015. Each time we bring back a BIFF audience award winner from past years. These screenings are open to the public, admission is $10 for non-members and free for REEL Friends.

Upcoming Best of Fest:

December 21 ARRANGED






— H.B.