Daniel’s Art Party at Simon’s Rock: Love letter to Rikke Borge, star of ‘Smasharoo’ and ‘Bedtime Stories’
This—let’s call it what it is—is a love letter to Rikke Borge.
On Feb. 9, 2018, an enormously vivacious but totally unassuming woman of a certain age arrived at the Bard College at Simon’s Rock Daniel Arts Center to meet with me about a role we were casting in a zany, country-western musical that producer Sandy Cleary and I suspected she’d be right for. After all, Rikke owns and boards horses on her Big Ash Farm. She has an improv background and she’s the daughter of genius concert pianist/comedian Victor Borge. It only took a few minutes of bubbly and hilarious conversation, and a listen to her great singing voice, to know we’d found our irreverent “Mama” in “Orange Star Smasharoo,” one of seven Daniel’s Art Party offerings in last year’s festival.
While in a YouTube rabbit hole, I came across a video of the Kennedy Center Honors celebrating Rikke’s father, with his daughter right behind him giving loving support:
Having arrived to work on Jan. 1, 2018, I was eager to meet as many supportive and playful people as possible so that we could jumpstart a brand new multimedia arts program. I found working outside my comfort zone to be gregarious and open-hearted, while navigating the insecurity of moving to the opposite coast, living next door to my boss on the Bard College at Simon’s Rock campus, eating my meals with 400 of the most interesting students anywhere, adjusting to academia and lifting up an ambitious arts program, therefore carrying with me a significant amount of personal and professional shellshock and neediness, so many in the community at large were embracing of me while many others could only offer a shy, New England wariness. I don’t blame them.
Rikke was not wary. I’m not sure she’s capable of being wary. In my experiences of her while shopping or meandering around the Sheffield Fair or at Orleton Farm as she jovially introduced me to her coaching pals on the opening morning of the annual Berkshire Coaching Weekend, Rikke brings the party. She can’t help but create the fun that she wishes to experience wherever she goes. As the artistic director of an ongoing “art party,” I appreciate that Rikke is the personification of the energy I’m working to cultivate in the Berkshires.
Rikke played “Mama” in “Smasharoo.” She brought her granddaughter’s pony to DAP’s indoor county fair, “Danny’s at the Fair,” which will have its second installment July 6. She very recently read children’s stories as part of “Berkshire Bedtime Stories,” a DAP/WBCR collaboration in a storefront window on Main Street. And she’ll play a superhero in the upcoming video project “Avenging Bonita,” that several other amazing women in the community are working to create. As DAP is very community-engagement-based, and definitely relies on the fun-loving generosity of spirit that many people are eager to channel into DAP events, Rikke is a superhero, for sure.
It’s great to report that the community’s wariness of me was not long-lived, and that my experiences of working and playing in the Berkshires are overwhelmingly positive thanks in large part to magical, generous, utterly dynamic people like Rikke Borge.