Actor Wendell Pierce will be one of the participants in the July 22 episode of 'Off the Cuff,' a collaborative effort between Berkshire Playwrights Lab and Berkshire Museum that features a three-part virtual conversation among theater professionals. Photo courtesy Berkshire Playwrights Lab

Bits & Bytes: ‘Off the Cuff’ theater series; ‘The Naughton Family in Concert’; ‘Jason Talks About Dinosaurs’; Becket Arts Center fundraiser

Participants will learn how birds and dinosaurs are closely related, and be able to apply the things they learn into designing their own dinosaurs.

Berkshire Playwrights Lab to debut virtual conversation series

Marsha Norman. Photo courtesy Berkshire Playwrights Lab

Great Barrington — On Wednesday, July 22, at 6 p.m., Berkshire Playwrights Lab, in partnership with the Berkshire Museum, will debut “Off the Cuff,” a virtual series of three conversations among theater professionals. The hour-long conversation will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook Live, and will then be available for ongoing viewing on the BPL and Berkshire Museum websites. Viewers of the live broadcasts will be invited to submit questions to the participants during the program.

Tracey Scott Wilson. Photo courtesy Berkshire Playwrights Lab

Appearing on the July 22nd premiere will be Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning playwright Marsha Norman; NAACP Image Award winner, 2020 Olivier Award nominee and WBOK1230.com owner Wendell Pierce; Emmy Award nominee and Peabody Award-winning playwright and TV writer Tracey Scott Wilson; Tony Award-nominated TV and Broadway producer Flody Suarez; and award-winning director and playwright and True Colors Theatre artistic director Jamil Jude.

Flody Suarez. Photo courtesy Berkshire Playwrights Lab

Each program in the series will take a deep dive into societal and cultural issues that affect theatergoers and theater makers alike at this consequential moment for both the theater and the country. Participants will be a mix of accomplished writers, directors, actors and producers grappling with broad-ranging questions such as:

  • Given its far-reaching effects on every facet of our lives, how will COVID-19 impact the theater world?
  • Has the theater community been complicit with or resistant to white supremacy?
  • What should be the mission of the American theater going forward? Who are we, what do we stand for and where do we go from here?
Jamil Jude. Photo courtesy Berkshire Playwrights Lab

The conversations will be cohosted by BPL co-artistic directors Joe Cacaci and Felicia Harden, with participation from BPL co-artistic directors Richard Dresser and James Anthony Tyler. Guests for future programs include Tony Award-, Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-winning actor Tony Shalhoub, Emmy Award and Writers Guild of America Award-winning writer Tom Fontana, and Broadway and TV actor Dan Lauria.

“The conversations will be lively, spontaneous and far ranging,” said Cacaci. “Viewers will hear innovative ideas as they are first expressed and will get a behind-the-scenes look at how theater professionals apply their experience to come up with creative solutions to complex problems. In years to come, we may have the pleasure of knowing we were there when the future began to be shaped.”

All programs are free and open to the public. Registration is not required. For more information, contact Berkshire Playwrights Lab at (413) 528-2544 or admin@berkshireplaywrightslab.org.

–E.E.

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Berkshire Theatre Group to present ‘The Naughton Family in Concert’

Greg Naughton. Photo courtesy Berkshire Theatre Group

Pittsfield — Berkshire Theatre Group will present “The Naughton Family in Concert” Friday, July 24, and Saturday, July 25, at 8 p.m. under a tent at the Colonial Theatre, 111 South St.

Featuring Greg Naughton, Tony Award winner James Naughton, Keira Naughton and Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara, the performance will be packed with an extensive songbook of wide-ranging genres, group numbers, duets, originals and solos. Said James Naughton: “My family has a very strong attachment to summer in the Berkshires. We are thrilled to be able to bring our music to our friends there–especially during this time. Music has healing power.”

Kelli O’Hara. Photo courtesy Berkshire Theatre Group

BTG has outlined procedures and protocols in a manner that is consistent with current Actors’ Equity Association as well as state and local mandated health and safety guidelines. Temperature scans will be done for patrons at their point of entry. Free-standing, no-contact, self-scanning stations for tickets will be placed at the point of entry and spaced at least 6 feet from the temperature scan. Free-standing hand sanitizer stations will be placed at various locations throughout the space. Patrons will be required to wear masks, which will be provided for them by BTG is the do not bring their own. One-way traffic patterns will be enforced with arrows and 6-foot markers on the floor as well as lines down the center of hallways to and from the tent, restrooms and concessions. The restrooms will have entrance and exits that are separate and one-way. Every other stall, urinal and sink will be marked not usable. A doctor/nurse will be on duty for all performances.

Tickets are $100. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact Berkshire Theatre Group at (413) 997-4444.

–E.E.

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‘Jason Talks About Dinosaurs’ to kick off virtual family series

Jason Sheldon. photo courtesy Spencertown Academy Arts Center

Spencertown, N.Y. — Spencertown Academy Arts Center will kick off its Family Arts Kaleidoscope virtual events series with “Jason Talks About Dinosaurs” — a live, interactive Zoom meeting for children ages 6-12 and their families — Saturday, July 25, at 10 a.m.

A lifelong dinosaur lover, birdwatcher and environmentalist, Sheldon is studying for a master’s degree in adolescent science education. In this virtual workshop, he will delve into the origins of dinosaurs and how they evolved over time, as well as discuss the beginnings of flight and feathers in the ancestors of modern-day birds. Participants will learn how birds and dinosaurs are closely related, and be able to apply the things they learn into designing their own dinosaurs.

The workshop is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Participants should attend with paper for drawing and favorite tools for color: paint, pencils or crayons. For more information or to register, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact Spencertown Academy Arts Center at info@spencertownacademy.org.

–E.E.

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Becket Arts Center launches fundraiser

The 50/50 Art Sale at Becket Arts Center. Photo courtesy Becket Arts Center

Becket — Marking its 50th year, the Becket Arts Center has launched a fundraiser that allows individuals a way to both provide financial support and receive a unique piece of original art. Coordinated by BAC volunteer Kathy Dickinson over the winter and spring, the 50/50 Art Sale features 50 pieces of art donated by artists and art lovers. Each piece is priced at $50 and all proceeds will benefit the ongoing operation of BAC. For more information or to make an appointment to view the artwork in person, contact the Becket Arts Center at (413) 623-6635 or office@becketartscenter.org.

–E.E.