Sunday, June 23, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Bits & Bytes: Festival of Books; ‘Julius Caesar’ at Shake & Co.; ‘A Revolution of Her Own’; ‘Portfolios’ photo show; Eclectic Rock Showcase 2

On Sunday, Sept. 1, Shakespeare & Company will present a staged reading of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” directed by founding artistic director Tina Packer and featuring John Douglas Thompson and Finn Wittrock.

Spencertown Academy to hold annual Festival of Books

Ruth Reichl. Photo courtesy Spencertown Academy Arts Center

Spencertown, N.Y. — Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s 14th annual Festival of Books will take place Friday, Aug. 30, through Monday, Sept. 2. The festival will feature a giant used book sale, two days of discussions with and readings by authors, and a children’s program.

This year’s featured authors include Ruth Reichl, Boris Fishman, Jenna Blum, Daphne Kalotay, David Yaffe, Steve Katz, Grace Talusan and Crystal Hana Kim. Authors’ books will be available for purchase and signing. Snacks and beverages will also be for sale throughout the weekend, including the Academy’s signature “to-die-for, no-alarm vegetarian chili.” Proceeds from the book sale help support the Academy’s programs as well as preservation and maintenance of its historic building.

Admission to the Festival of Books is free with the exception of the book sale’s early-buying events. For more information and a detailed schedule of events, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact the Spencertown Academy Arts Center at (518) 392-3693 or


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Shakespeare & Company to present staged reading of ‘Julius Caesar’

John Douglas Thompson. Photo courtesy Shakespeare & Company

Lenox — On Sunday, Sept. 1, at 1:30 p.m. in its Tina Packer Playhouse, Shakespeare & Company will present a staged reading of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” directed by founding artistic director Tina Packer and featuring John Douglas Thompson, Finn Wittrock and a cast of returning Company favorites.

Finn Wittrock

“I’m thrilled to dive back into ‘Julius Caesar,’ especially during the polarizing political climate we are living in,” said Packer. “This stripped down concert reading format allows the emphasis to rest solely on Shakespeare’s text, and heightens the relationship between the actors and the audience. The action depicts the clash of ideas, leading to chaos in Rome, and all the consequences that befall a nation when its citizens and leadership cannot agree on a course of action. The chaos of Rome, and the rise and fall of the great nation.”

During the reading, the actors will perform from the play with scripts in hand, and afterwards will engage the audience in discussions exploring the themes and relationships of the play. The cast features Dara Brown as Cinna the Poet, Company artistic director Allyn Burrows as Cassius, MaConnia Chesser as Casca, Nigel Gore as Caesar, Cloteal L. Horne as Portia, Jordan Mann as Octavius Caesar, Kristin Wold as Calpurnia, John Douglas Thompson as Brutus and Finn Wittrock as Mark Antony.

Tickets are $25-$55. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or call the Shakespeare & Company box office at (413) 637-3353.


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Performance to center on Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson

Judith Kalaora as Deborah Sampson. Photo: Vincent Morrealle

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Historical Society, the Bidwell House Museum and the Claire Teague Senior Center will present “A Revolution of Her Own: The Story of Deborah Sampson” Wednesday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Claire Teague Senior Center, 917South Main St.

Deborah Sampson grew up an indentured servant, was self-educated, and felt called to service in the American Revolution. Determined to serve, she bound her chest, tied back her hair and enlisted tin the 4th Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army as Robert Shurtlieff. Judith Kalaora, founder of History at Play, will perform and tell Sampson’s story.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Great Barrington Historical Society at (413) 591-8702 or


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‘Prague in Everything’ by Martin Greene. Image courtesy Berkshire Photography Group

Berkshire Photography Group exhibits ‘Portfolios’

Dalton — The members of the Berkshire Photography Group are presenting their work in the exhibit “Portfolios” at the Stationary Factory through Sunday, Sept. 22.

Photo: Elaine Radiss, courtesy Berkshire Photography Group

Elaine Radiss concentrates on using special lenses that create a soft focus and applies digital applications that add painterly and textured imagery. H. David Stein pairs mirror images of his prints, focusing on the subtle beauty of white-on-white contrasts and black-on-black flowers. John Lipkowitz finds wildlife most compelling and the images in this show are from many of his favorite experiences. Bruce Panock’s daily practice of photography has led him to a deeper awareness of himself and a search for an emotional connection to the viewers of his photographs. Arthur Hillman is interested in architectonic spaces that are compositions of line, shape and scale.

Playing with the built-in panorama feature of her iPhone, Sharon Lips has dug in deep to push the creative potential of this technology. Working with the multiple exposure blending modes of her camera and intentional camera movement, Peggy Braun has focused her attention on the figure. In Janet Pumphrey’s “Imagined Cities,” each image is a creation of layers, multiple exposures or an impressionist rendition of urban features. Martin Greene is interested in the way light defines time. Peggy Reeves’ imagery is the resting place somewhere between a portion of the light spectrum that is seen separated from the usual tones of ordinary vision and the creative possibilities of the handmade photograph. Denise B. Chandler makes pictures for herself, to identify with hidden qualities of her character, to understand her reality, and to express her interpretation of the world around her.

A special section of the exhibition is devoted to the work of award-winning photographer Michael Bufis, a BPG member who died in 2018.

The show is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Stationery Factory at (413) 659-6299.


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Club Helsinki Hudson to host Eclectic Rock Showcase 2

Wes Buckley. Photo: Toni Buckley

Hudson, N.Y. — On Thursday, Aug. 29, at 8 p.m., Club Helsinki Hudson will host Eclectic Rock Showcase 2 featuring Concetta Abbate, Wes Buckley and the Vaguely Pagan, Camp Saint Helene, and the Wild Weeeds.

Concetta Abbate is a New York City-based violinist and composer whose first solo album, “Falling in Time,” was released in February 2015. She will be joined by Benjamin Engel on percussion and mandolin. Wes Buckley and the Vaguely Pagan play psych-, folk-, and rock-based music with homemade percussive sound sculptures adding an extra layer of vibe. Songwriter and guitarist Buckley will be joined by musicians including Brian Kantor and Jake Roach. Dylan Nowik and vocalist Liza Ibarra began Camp Saint Helene shortly after moving out of Brooklyn to the Catskill Mountains. Their debut record, “Mother,” is set to be released Sept. 27. The Wild Weeeds play self-described “mutant rock ‘n’ roll that grew out of the ponds, lakes and streams of Columbia County, N.Y.” The band recently completed a full-length album called “Let It Bleeed” and an EP “Sunset Rock.”

Tickets are $10. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or call Club Helsinki Hudson at (518) 828-4800.



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