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A performance of 'Little Shop of Horrors' for the Monument Mountain Regional High School senior class on Monday: from left, Christina Payne, Sophia Ruderman, and Hannah Emerson Clapp. That's the hungry Two-ey behind Christina.

Bits & Bytes: Monument spring musical; Kiwanis Ham Roll; Slavic eggs at Ventfort; Spencertown story contest  

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By Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015 News 1
‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ MMRHS spring musical opens March 26

Great Barrington It’s spring, which means it’s musical time at Monument Mountain Regional High School. This year’s spring musical is the sordid and hilarious Little Shop of Horrors, performed at the Kathleen E. McDermott Auditorium at Monument Thursday, March 26, Friday, March 27, Saturday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 29 at 2:30 p.m.

With book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken, the musical will make you holler with laughter and cringe with disgust as Seymour, an assistant in a flower shop on skid row, adopts a funny looking plant with a strange appetite. Seymour wants nothing more than to show his fellow flower shop worker, Audrey, that he is more than a nerdy floral assistant. He finds the solution to his problem when the plant, more affectionately called Audrey II, promises to bring Seymour fame and fortune if he continues to nourish it. As the plant grows bigger and bigger, Seymour begins to understand the consequences associated with feeding this plant. When he realizes he has created a genuine threat to his community and the world at large, he understasnds that his actions have consequences that are bigger than he ever imagined.

Monument faculty member Linnea Macé directed the production, her 18th at the high school since 1992. This year’s production features more than 40 students in the cast, crew, and pit orchestra. Among the 22 student actors in this double cast production are Jeremy Gill and Theo Burns as the nerdy, flower shop assistant, Seymour; Ruthie Lee and Caroline Sprague as the love of Seymour’s life, Audrey; Dan Santos and Domenic Annand as the grumpy flower shop owner Mr. Mushnik; and Eli Shalles and Peter Teutsch as the sadistic dentist, Orin. Additional crew: Assistant Director Maria Knox, Vocal Director Cindy Gutter, Pit Director Joe Rose, Tech Director Ron Piazza, Lighting Director Maia Robbins-Zust, and Audio Engineer Don Harris, ensure the quality of production that audience members have come to expect from Monument High musicals over the years.

Tickets are $10 and are on sale now at Monument Mountain High School’s main office and will be available at the door before each performance if not sold out prior to curtain. Friday and Saturday night performances have sold out in the past, so purchasing tickets in advance recommended.

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Sheffield Kiwanis Ham Roll at VFW

A young winner in the 2014 Kiwanis Ham Roll.

A young winner in the 2014 Kiwanis Ham Roll.

Great Barrington — It’s nearly spring and that means it’s time for Sheffield Kiwanis’ annual Ham Roll. Please join us on Friday, March 27 at the Great Barrington VFW. Doors open at 6 and the first roll is at 7 p.m.. Admission is FREE!

A fast, furious and fun evening. A spin of the wheel and you could win the fixings for your holiday meal — a ham, chicken, steak, lobster, maybe even a pie. Each ticket is only $1; there are 120 chances to win with each spin!

And bring a friend (or two). They need to eat, too.

Sheffield Kiwanis proudly serves the towns of Alford, Egremont, Great Barrington, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Marlborough and Sheffield.

For more information: info@sheffieldkiwanis.org

— D.S.

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Slavic Easter egg decorating workshops at Ventfort Hall
Examples of Slavic decorated Easter eggs.
Examples of Easter eggs decorated in the Slavic style.

Lenox — Celebrate the Easter season with a unique opportunity to learn a time-honored Eastern European craft. Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum will offer its annual Slavic Easter egg decorating demonstrations and instructional workshops on Saturday, March 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m..

The Eastern European tradition of creating intricate and beautifully decorated eggs was passed down for generations. Lenox resident Tjasa Sprague, who will again lead the workshop, learned the technique many years ago from her Czechoslovakian mother, Maria Krofta.

The technique begins with unwashed eggs (provided by a local poultry farm) which have a residue-free shell surface. The Slavic Easter egg is a wax resistant technique that employs aniline dye later in the process. The decorating begins with drawing on the egg with wax, followed by immersion in the dye, with repeated wax drawing and dying as desired.

The eggs are uncooked and are “blown” out after the decorating has been completed.  The eggs may be displayed, when stored carefully, for an indefinite number of years.

The fee for each workshop is $25 for advance reservations and $30 for day-of admission. Children should be at least 12 years of age. Reservations are recommended as the workshop size is limited. For more information or reservations, call Ventfort Hall at 413-637-3206 or www.gildedage.org. The historic mansion is located at 104 Walker Street in Lenox.

–H.B.

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Spencertown Academy Arts Center teen short story contest

Spencertown, N.Y. – Spencertown Academy Arts Center announces its first-ever Teen Short Story Contest. The contest is open to Berkshire and Columbia County teenaged writers in grades 9 through 12. Contest judges include book editors, authors, and other publishing professionals. The top three winners will receive cash prizes ($100, $75, and $50 respectively) and will be invited to read their stories at the Academy’s annual Festival of Books over Labor Day weekend.

Jill Kalotay and Academy Board member David Highfill co-chair the Festival of Books, during which the Academy welcomes numerous acclaimed and well-known writers and nearly 2,000 readers. “Our mission at Spencertown Academy is to build a community through the arts,” said Highfill, vice president and executive editor at William Morrow & Co., an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. “With the Festival of Books in particular, we’re interested in engaging and entertaining all the area book lovers — and we know from past experience that there are lots of them. I think Jill Kalotay’s brilliant idea for this contest is a perfect way to do just that and to nurture the region’s next generation of literary talent.”

The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2015. Stories can be on any subject matter, with a maximum length of 4,000 words. Stories must be formatted in 12-point type, be double spaced, and have 1″ margins on standard 8 ½” by 11″ paper. Entries must not have previously been accepted for publication nor have won a prize. Send submissions, as well as any enquires regarding the story contest, to the Academy at story@spencertownacademy.org.

Housed in a beautifully restored 1840s Greek-Revival schoolhouse at 790 State Route 203 in Spencertown, New York, Spencertown Academy Arts Center is a cultural center serving Columbia County, the Berkshires, and the Capital region. It offers a variety of free and low-cost community arts events, including concerts, readings, theater pieces, art exhibitions, and arts-related workshops and classes. For more information about the Festival of Books, click here.

— H.B.


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  1. Catherine Palmer Paton says:

    I discovered your site by going to the festive Business Expo held at Berkshire South and signing up. Thanks for an array of interesting and compassionate coverage of the events and people in the area. The more the MA/NY CT tri-corner area towns can support each other, the greater the chance people will stay and even move into the area. Sadly, we also need to learn from the challenges we face in terms of the changing demographics. Fewer people can Afford to live in these areas and other parts of the country or even of one’s state compete or attract the younger people who do manage to find a foothold here. I have covered some issues and offer ideas I learn from a variety of innovative, caring people and resource groups on my blog http://www.livfully.drupalgardens.com and welcome input and sharing in the Comments section. There is a NW Corner (of CT) FB page as well as http://www.ruralintelligence.com and http://www.OurBerkshireTimes.com for people to list events on a calendar. The more people connect around key issues and share success stories, the easier it will be to help more people find reasons and ways to enjoy each season of their lives (year-round or seasonally if that’s the way it plays out). Hopefully everyone can put Safety and Kindness on their list of options for responding to meeting needs for themselves and others. That may mean offering to help a few folks with simple chores or errands, checking references (even of all family or people contributing to a common budget to have some accountability that bills are being paid without late fees etc if sharing a bank account) and making housing plans clear in advance of renting, buying or sharing a home (yes, including dividing household tasks, paying for utilities or other added expenses such as garbage removal or lawn care, etc). Friends can serve as mediators to help each party concerned Write their Plans Down Clearly in advance to Avoid misunderstandings or to have agreements about Reviewing terms and having an Intervening Party address matters rather than leave it for conflicting parties to work out concerns on their own. That may sound like added work, but preventing problems by keeping communications simple and in writing or on the phone rather than direct or in person between the two or more people at odds is the goal. The same could go for any kind of dating or long-term relationship (even parents who have never lived together) . Game rules to keep voluntary plans for parenting and care-giving roles clear and ‘separate’ from the status of one’s personal involvement with the other parent or even other caregivers makes sense. The children (and other related family members and friends, even pets) could be given a way to keep meaningful people in their life, ideally with support from others who would monitor each parent-child relationship in a friendly supportive way (whether parents are together or not, amicable or in conflict.) While this may again seem like ‘too much work’, the pitfalls of relationship issues between adults impacting children in a stressful way has not been clearly recognized (other than by http://www.civicresearchinstitute.org). If there is an abusive parent (sadly typically a father, but sometimes a mother or both in high conflict relationships), the safety of the children and the victim (again, typically the mother but with some exceptions) needs to be prioritized by the entire justice system and the community at large as a public safety concern. In Duluth MN a large percentage of all men have gone through a program to address abusive behavior, which may encourage more communities to review the dynamics of bullying, abuse and being a victim (as well as a bystander) with all segments of society. The media and a few agencies cannot turn a tide of decades of abuse and ignorance by professionals when it comes to interventions and ongoing protections. More women and even children are ‘nailing this issue’ onto blogs and conferences. The standards are rising for all people to be treated with dignity and respect, particularly in light of the last decade of Occupy movements, police brutality being discussed and escalating concerns about drug use and a need for better interventions and mental health help. By 2050, Africa will account for over half of the increase in the world’s population. America will have a changed demographic of half of the population ‘choosing’ to live in a urban areas for the services and lifestyle. A majority of US will be people of color, with whites a minority. While some state environmental agencies and other groups in Florida and likely elsewhere have banned using terms of climate change, rising sea levels and sustainability, people cannot afford to keep their heads in the sand. We need to become a nation of activists with our own ongoing efforts to care for the plan-it and the people on it, particularly those near to us but learn what others can do to be successful ‘climate refugees’ or live where they are more sustainably. Ideas on http://www.gaia.org offer hope. Some people thinking of all these various pieces of the pie (similar to how permaculture addresses ways for people to live and share resources and work amicably) could benefit US All. About 50 people from every state (with an extra 100 or 200 for the states with larger populations and 50 for those of larger geographic proportions) could provide a meaningful prototype for the kind of teams of support we could offer one another voluntarily. People could perhaps be recognized or given some credit for the work they do. More good ideas could spread about the US (and abroad) to help people care for children, teens, young adults and people at each decade of life into their elderly years. The word of warning that many will have dementia in coming years echoes that of the climate change issues..don’t wait until the worse happens. The plans to help one another in a myriad of ways should be clearly spelled out and promoted by all facets of society. If it has not been anyone’s ‘job’ to think like this in the past, more people can elect to make it their business to pursue these matters for themselves. Much key information is shared on http://www.barrygoldstein.net and likely more people could craft their own plans for relationships and self-care that would seek to have a year or more of getting to know someone as a friend with separate housing quarters before joining forces whether as romantic partners, having a child together, caring for people together (kids, elderly, those with special needs, or short-term issues such as having gone through a difficult loss or change). Most people who are older have done a lot ‘right’ to have lived a few decades, and many understand the wisdom of giving back some time and wisdom. While laws are ever multiplying which make a lot of advocacy and free speech challenging, maybe there’s ‘still a way’. Perhaps people can mainly work online and use aliases, yet overall everyone needs to learn about the laws that could be used against them for what they say (libel suits if you name someone or maybe even some place directly in a complaint, etc. Best to use ‘IF someone did something questionable (and give the jist again without the identifying information), Then what Might be some responses?’ The media coverage too often paints the details of a crime and spends endless amounts of time and work proving who hurt or killer whom. Fewer crimes and long-term abuse situations (whether domestic, drug or ongoing conflict) need get out of hand, now that we know prevention and interventions of various kinds (and social networks like FB and being in touch with people by phone is a key part of maintaining a connection and to be able to visit in person often).

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