This week, Jared Bowen takes us through the theater productions coming to Barrington Stage Company this August and upcoming events with the Berkshire Theater Festival. Plus, a visit to New Bedford for “Light 2020,” from the Massachusetts Design Art & Technology Institute.

Barrington Stage Company stages new performances this summer

Barrington Stage Company
Seats have been removed and separated at Barrington Stage Company, one of several changes the theater has made to accomodate social distancing
Courtesy of Barrington Stage Company

When the coronavirus pandemic struck the United States, Actors’ Equity Association — a union representing more than 51,000 actors — announced it would suspend casting calls and onstage performances for its members in order to comply with CDC guidelines on gatherings of large groups. But, this July, after months of negotiations, the union announced it would allow two productions at two theater companies in the Berkshires to open this August. One of those productions is “Harry Clarke,” a one-man play written by David Cale, which will open at Barrington Stage Company. The theater also plans to host an evening of Rogers and Hammerstein music, as well as concert performances by Marilyn Maye and Ann Hampton Callaway.

To accommodate social distancing, Barrington Stage Company has implemented a variety of new safety measures, including temperature checks at the door and limited seating within the theater. Actors will also be performing upstage, farther away from the audience. Berkshire Theatre Festival will adopt similar measures as it stages a month-long run of “Godspell” outdoors and under a tent at The Colonial Theatere in Pittsfield.

“People are dying to get out of self-isolation,” says Julianne Boyd, Barrington Stage Company’s artistic director. “We want to be in the room with people and hear stories and feel the energy of people, although they're sitting six feet away or even more in some instances.”

“Light 2020,” a city-wide arts initiative from Massachusetts Design Art & Technology Institute

DATMA Light 2020
"Photo-Kinetic Grid" by Soo Sunny Park
Richard Gormely, courtesy of Massachusetts Design Art & Technology Institute

After the success of its inaugural “Summer Winds” exhibition last year, Massachusetts Design Art & Technology Institute, or DATMA, has unveiled another city-wide summer arts initiative happening in New Bedford. “Light 2020” is a collection of public art and programming centered on the theme of light, highlighting New Bedford’s history as “the city that lit the world” during the heyday of its whaling industry. The initiative will feature MASARY, a Boston-based arts collective founded by Sam Okerstrom-Lang and Ryan Edwards, who have created three site-specific multimedia works that are projected on buildings across the city. Also featured is artist Soo Sunny Park, a sculptor whose work “Photo-kinetic Grid” reconfigures fencing, glass and plastic into a “light room” that reflects glistening patterns of light throughout a gallery (viewed from the outdoors) and onto the sidewalk.

“What was so captivating about this piece in particular was her use of nontraditional materials,” says DATMA Executive Director Lindsay Miś of Park’s work. “She welds it in such a way where she forms it into this … vortex of continuous space, filling each diamond with silver plexiglass to create endless amounts of reflections.”

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