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Bits & Bytes: Deb Koffman book launch; Shake & Co. Common Classes; Camphill chamber concert; Williams alum earns physics award; Humane Society grant

"Common Classes at the Fall Festival of Shakespeare are a beautiful example of what education might one day become -- nurturing creativity and developing cooperation." -- Kevin Coleman, Director of Education at Shakespeare and Company

Launch party for Deb Koffman’s “The Magic Lamp”

Housatonic — Celebrate the power of the imagination with Deb Koffman and a cast of characters from her new book “The Magic Lamp” at a launch party on Sunday, October 18 at Deb Koffman’s Art Space. The event will begin 2 p.m., with a short reading from the book at 2:30 p.m. Refreshments will be available, as well as the opportunity to take pictures with “The Magic Lamp” characters.

For more information email or call (413) 274-1201. The events is free with no obligation to buy the book.


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Fall Festival Common Classes unite students at Shakespeare & Company

Lenox — Shakespeare & Company’s Fall Festival of Shakespeare is back and with it four Common Classes where hundreds of teenagers gather to work and play together in Stage Combat, Dance and Movement, Technical Theatre and Performance preparation. Ten different schools will be represented in this year’s Festival, coming from the Berkshires, the Pioneer Valley, and eastern New York State.

The Fall Festival is the culmination of the nationally recognized program that places Shakespeare & Company Education Artists in local and regional schools where they lead students in a nine-week exploration of a Shakespeare play and end with a series of performances, first at their respective schools and then at Shakespeare & Company’s Tina Packer Playhouse. Built on the transformative power of Shakespeare’s language and stories, the Fall Festival engages students in a personally meaningful, educationally rigorous, and dramatically compelling experience of classical theatre.

The first Common Class was held on October 7 at Monument Mountain Regional High School and focused on Stage Combat. The Dance and Movement class was held at Shakespeare & Company on October 14, and the Technical Theatre class on October 21 and Performance class on October 28 will be held there as well. “Common Classes are an essential part of the Festival experience,” said Director of Education Kevin G. Coleman. “Students from each of the 10 schools come together to play, create dances, swing swords, help build each other’s sets, solve problems, discover friendship, celebrate each other’s courage, and expose the fictitious worth of competition. Common Classes are a beautiful example of what education might one day become — nurturing creativity and developing cooperation.”

The 10 schools participating in the 2015 Fall Festival of Shakespeare are Berkshire Waldorf High School, Chatham High School, Lee High School, Lenox Memorial High School, Monument Mountain Regional High School, Mount Everett Regional High School, Mount Greylock Regional High School, Springfield Central High School, Taconic High School, and Taconic Hills High School. Students from all 10 schools will gather in a spirit of celebration to perform their plays for the public in a four-day festival at the Tina Packer Playhouse from Thursday, November 19 through Sunday, November 22.


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‘Autumn Winds’ begins fall concert series at Camphill Ghent

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Oboist Kathy Halvorson.
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Pianist Gili Melamed-Lev.

Chatham, N.Y. — The Concert Series at Camphill Ghent will begin its Fall 2015 season Saturday, October 17 at 3 p.m. with two masterpieces for winds and piano in a performance titled, “Autumn Winds.”

Composer Oded Zehavi will be at the concert to introduce his world premiere for bassoon and piano in addition to “Piazolla Tango” for clarinet, “Metamorphoses” by Britten for oboe and Strauss’s “Nocturne” for the French horn and piano. This rich repertoire will be offered by William de Vos, French horn; Kathy Halvorson, oboe; Gili Sharett, bassoon; Nuno Antunes, clarinet; and Gili Melamed-Lev, piano.

Tickets are $25 for adults; $20 for seniors ages 55 and older; $5 for students and $45 for a family. A new season subscription package is available featuring six concerts for the price of five, adults $125, seniors $100. Call (518) 392-2760 for reservations. Tickets will also be available for sale at the door the day of the concert. A reception with the artists will follow the performance in the Culture Hall.


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Williams College alum gets Leroy Apker Award for physics

Benjamin Augenbraun.

Williamstown — Benjamin Augenbraun ’15 has received the nation’s highest honor for undergraduate physics research, becoming the fifth Williams College alumnus in recent years to win the Leroy Apker Award from the American Physical Society. He joins Chris Chudzicki ’10, Nathan Hodas ’04, Charles Doret ’02, and Brian Gerke ’99. The Apker Award is presented to just two undergraduates each year. Over the past 20 years, more Williams alumni have received Apker awards than alumni from any other college or university in the country.

Augenbraun’s research was a thesis on experimental atomic physics using laser spectroscopy to study complicated, heavy atoms such as indium and thallium. Specifically, he researched the Stark shift, a phenomenon whereby atoms, in this case indium, deform in large electric fields. The Stark shift can be measured by observing how the atom’s light absorption of precise colors changes when the electric field is turned on and off. Augenbraun is now pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University, where he’s part of a research group studying cold molecules. The physics major from Wilton, Conn., will receive a $5,000 prize with his Apker, and the same amount will be awarded to the Physics Department.


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Berkshire Humane Society receives grant

Pittsfield — Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Massachusetts Animal Coalition (MAC), Berkshire Humane Society (BHS) will be able to continue its efforts to provide low-cost spay/neuter programs for cats and dogs in Berkshire County. This year the MAC grant will support two programs: Pittsfield Cat Fix and Be Hip & SNIP Your Dog.

Collaborating with Animal DREAMS (AD), BHS has recently launched Pittsfield Cat Fix, a city-wide effort to spay/neuter both owned and stray cats in Pittsfield. For Pittsfield residents who own indoor/outdoor cats, the cost of spaying/neutering is $30 and includes a rabies vaccination. Discounts can be negotiated for multiple cats or litters. There is no fee for spaying/neutering stray or feral cats. A rabies vaccination is also included. Pittsfield Cat Fix will be available for a limited time: until the goal of 500 cats is reached or May 31, 2016. To learn more about Pittsfield Cat Fix, call AD at (413) 997-2287 or email

BHS is also hosting Be Hip & SNIP Your Dog for dog owners who live in North County and who are in financial need. Through this program BHS will be able to offer low-cost spay/neuter for approximately 50 dogs and puppies aged three months and older. To participate, dog owners need to purchase a $25. Once they purchase the voucher, they’ll need to schedule an appointment with a participating veterinarian and then submit the voucher on the day of the surgery. Veterinarians taking part are Greylock Animal Hospital, North County Veterinary Hospital, and Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital.

The $25 fee includes spaying/neutering and a rabies vaccination. Vouchers will be available on a first come, first serve basis and be limited to two per family. Additionally the wait list for a surgery appointment may be two months or longer. There will be no refunds. For more information, call the BHS kennel staff at (413) 447-7878 x126.



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