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Bits & Bytes: WAM Theatre gala; ‘Curtis on Tour’; ‘Drawing as Mindfulness Practice’ workshops; Young Writers’ Contest winners

Deb Koffman's "Drawing as Mindfulness Practice" workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to watch their minds; stay connected to their hearts; follow their authentic impulses; make mistakes without consequences; tap into their natural, ordinary, unique creativity; and find the essential beauty in anything.

WAM Theatre gala to premiere Girls Ensemble work

Richmond — The rolling fields of the Berkshire Equestrian Center will create the backdrop for WAM Theatre’s annual Midsummer Cocktail Party Wednesday, July 25, at 5:30 p.m.

The evening’s guests will be the first to learn about this year’s beneficiary for WAM’s fall main stage production of “Ann” starring Jayne Atkinson, and will see an exclusive premiere performance by the 2018 of Girls Ensemble cohort’s original piece around the theme of justice.  The host for the evening will be Ty Allan Jackson, a children’s book author, publisher, literacy advocate and two-time TEDx speaker who travels across the country inspiring children of all ages to dream big and teaching the joy and power of reading. Jean-Remy Monnay, Kevin Craig West and Erica Tryon, who will appear in WAM’s Sunday, Aug. 12, Fresh Takes Play Reading Series production of “Pipeline” by Dominique Morisseau will be in attendance, along with other actors and artists who have worked with the company including Kim Stauffer, star of “Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends her Life Tonight” by Lauren Gunderson; and Kelly Galvin, the director of Kate Hennig’s “The Last Wife.” Guests will be serenaded by Alexander Sovronsky. A silent auction and raise-the-paddle auction will raise money WAM events and education programming.

Tickets are $75–$250. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact WAM Theatre at (413) 274-8122 or info@wamtheatre.com.

–E.E.

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Curtis on Tour to stop at Saint James Place

Roberto Díaz. Photo courtesy Curtis Institute of Music

Great Barrington — Curtis on Tour, the global touring initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will return to New England for its inaugural performance at Saint James Place Wednesday, July 25, at 7 p.m. The performance will feature a classic string program performed by Curtis Institute President Roberto Díaz and Curtis students.

Since founding “Curtis on Tour” eight seasons ago, Díaz has taken the program to North and South America, Europe and Asia, performing chamber music side-by-side with Curtis students. In addition to his decade-long tenure as principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Díaz was principal viola of the National Symphony Orchestra under Mstislav Rostropovich, a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, and a member of the Minnesota Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner. Díaz combines an active performing career with his leadership of Curtis. He will be joined by violinist Bella Hristova, cellist Timotheos Petrin and violinist Maria Ioudenitch for a program that will include Duo in G major, K. 423 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110 by Dmitri Shostakovich; and Quartet in F major by Maurice Ravel.

Tickets are $25. A pre-performance lecture will take place at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar.

–E.E.

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Deb Koffman to lead ‘Drawing as Mindfulness Practice’ workshops

Deb Koffman. Photo courtesy Deb Koffman Art

Hillsdale, N.Y. — Artist, illustrator, writer, teacher and Edge columnist Deb Koffman will conduct “Drawing As Mindfulness Practice” workshops for adults Thursday, July 26, and Thursday, Aug. 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Roeliff Jansen Community Library.

The workshops will provide an opportunity for participants to watch their minds; stay connected to their hearts; follow their authentic impulses; make mistakes without consequences; tap into their natural, ordinary, unique creativity; and find the essential beauty in anything. No drawing experience is necessary. This is a silent practice that allows participants to “do what they do”: draw, write, meditate, photograph and/or move their bodies. Some materials will be provided, and participants are invited to bring their own watercolors, pencils, crayons, craypas, colored pencils, etc.

Koffman offers a weekly class in her studio in drawing/writing as a mindfulness practice, and hosts an open mic on the first Tuesday of every month for community members to share their poems, songs and stories.

The workshops are free and participants can sign up for one or both. Light snacks and water will be provided. Enrollment is limited, but further workshops may be added if there is enough demand. For more information, or to register, contact the Roe Jan Library at (518) 325-4101.

–E.E.

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Claudia Maurino and Noah Goble, both juniors at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, Mass., won first place in the Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s Young Writers’ Contest. Photos courtesy Spencertown Academy Arts Center

Spencertown Academy announces winners of Young Writers’ Contest

Spencertown, N.Y. — Spencertown Academy Arts Center has announced the winners of its fourth annual Young Writers’ Contest. Held in conjunction with the Academy’s Festival of Books, the contest was open to writers in grades nine through 12 attending schools or homeschooled in Greene and Columbia counties as well as Berkshire County in Massachusetts.

“We did outreach to 38 schools and received a wonderful range of entries from talented young writers,” said contest coordinator Kelly Kynion. “It was a ‘blind’ judging process and in the end, the contest was swept by Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Hudson High School in New York. Five of the six winners were students of teachers Lisken Dus at Monument Mountain or Gail Wheeler at Hudson High.”

The contest was judged by authors and publishing professionals including Wesley Brown, Jamie Cat Callan, Alan Gelb, David Highfill, Daphne Kalotay and Wendy Schmalz. The top three winners in each category received cash prizes of $200, $150 and $100. The first-place winners will read their pieces at the Festival of Books over Labor Day weekend.

Nonfiction/Essay or Memoir
First place: Claudia Maurino, MMRHS junior, “Loss
Second place: Shimran Alam, Hudson High senior, “Dream”
Third place: Tahrima Siha, Hudson High senior, “Untitled”

Fiction/Short Story
First place: Noah Goble, MMRHS junior, “Dreamer
Second place: Piper Nayowith, Hudson High junior, “The Town”
Third place: Eva Letteron, MMRHS junior, “Young Girl Eating a Bird”

–E.E.

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