Category Archives: Arts News

‘Luminous Planes’ Define Susannah Auferoth’s Paintings at the Grubbs Gallery

Shimmer by Susannah Auferoth; photo by David Hillberby Photography

Kicking off the 2017-18 exhibit schedule at the Grubbs Gallery will be Holyoke-based painter Susannah Auferoth. Auferoth uses oil paint and often resin and/or wax on wide stretches of paper or board, resulting in compositions that resemble flat horizons. Color palates differentiate each piece, as do the grades of hue in each stratum, and the subtle markings on each plane. Continue reading

Peter and the Starcatcher: Truly Child’s Play

Peter Pan was initially created as author J.M. Barrie’s tribute to the five Llewelyn Davies boys, who Barrie had known from infancy and became his adopted sons after their parents’ death. The story we have all grown to know and love evolved out of Barrie’s dramatic play with the three middle boys, Peter, Michael, and John, and is a celebration of all things childhood. Peter Pan debuted on the stage in 1904. While the play was an immediate hit in London, Barrie could not stop editing and evolving the story even after it had opened (a rarity in the theater where shows are typically set by opening night). The process Barrie underwent to write Peter Pan mimicked how children adapt and change stories as they play.

Three of the LLewelyn Davies boys playing castaways– the make believe game that inspired J.M. Barrie to write PETER PAN.

The playwrights of Peter and the Starcatcher unabashedly bring this celebration of childhood to life through their script. Nothing is literal—we see trunks change into seats and ropes into doors just as children transform household objects into whatever their dramatic play calls for. Actors in Starcatcher play multiple roles just as children declare, “Now I’m so and so!” Narrators pop out onstage to tell us what’s happening like children announce, “Let’s pretend [fill in the blank] happens!” Not only does this elevate child’s play to an art form (as Barrie intended in his original) but it also invites our audience to be part of the story. The fourth wall, which is at the heart of theatrical realism, is abandoned. The story erupts off the stage and into the audience. You get to use your imagination to fill in the gaps—the door made of rope takes on a unique form in the mind of each audience member. A connection is formed with the characters as actors speak directly to you. In this world, you are no longer a passive audience member but an active part of our theater-making. I recently read the following quote to our cast. It’s from Le Hung, artistic director of Hanoi’s Youth Theatre, speaking about Vietnamese Ceo, a theatrical genre that heavily employs the use of narration. It resonated with the entire company and we wanted to share it with you: “In the Russian tradition of Stanislavsky, the actor says ‘I will tell you a story about me.’ In the German tradition of Brecht, the actor says, ‘I will tell you a story about them.’ In the Vietnamese tradition, the actor says, ‘You and I will tell you the story about all of us.’” With Peter and the Starcatcher, this community storytelling allows us to tap into our child-minds and in the process, opens our hearts more fully to the message of the story, a message as timeless as Peter Pan himself: we all have a gift to give, sometimes it takes a little bit of a journey to discover where it lies.

The (almost) entire cast who are having as much fun as the Llewelyn Davies boys did years ago!

 

 

Peter and the Starcatcher: A Group Poem

This poem was created by Harrison Winrow with help from the company of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER and read by the full cast  at assembly on March 25th. Created with and inspired by words from the show, we hoped it would give our school a taste of the story. By popular demand we include it here. You can also read it in our program when you come see PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. Either way,  enjoy.

The Peeling Gold Letters on Her Majesty’s Trunk

A Company of Men and Women enters with a purpose,

Those who hope and those who dream, on the brink of a new adventure.

We enter now before you, both to hope and to dream

With you yes, swimming in this shimmering lake of gold far, far underground.

There’s a poet in this pirate’s veins

And he scribbles down arteries frantic and with ire brewed in the belly of the Neverland Because it all ends, those are the rules.

No! we are not to dull or drown or disappoint!

The object is to lure them here, not send them into psychoanalysis!

Oh, We are but actors of youth and Integrity

So now if you please, join us, get comfy

And in this chapel, or in the theater, or both

An echo or a voice, or both

Seemed to answer us:

Peter and the Starcatcher

I promise you now,

There is nothing between me and the sky–

But, Why?

Oh you and your inclination towards the sentimental

Fine, I’ll tell you:

It is he, the boy, nameless and friendless, he is a lonesome child with not a single toy;

It is they, the orphans, a unit in desperate need of a leader, they cannot swim lest they have tails, gills or fins;

It is she, the girl, the starcatcher — no apprentice! — the mother, oh the reckless selfless lover of life, and giver of the kiss!

And it is us, the dreamers and the hopeful, yes, the onlookers must look on.

And yes, sold to the snakes, saved from the savage, sent from solace to solitude, he still just wants to be something!

We all still just want to be that one thing.

we still just want to be

A kid

A captain

A lord

A mother

A Pirate

A sailor

A Tropical king

We all still just want to be

Alive

Alive

ALIVE

ALIVE

ALIVE!

 

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER runs April 27-29 and May 5-7. To order tickets visit our website.

 

Williston’s ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ Traces a Heroic Journey

starcatcher-webPeter and the Starcatcher unfolds the origin story of Peter Pan, and in doing so, invites theater-goers to join a heroic journey. The Williston Northampton School’s theater program presents the play April 27 to 29, and May 4 to 6 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available here and go on sale on April 1. They cost $10 general admission and $7 for students and seniors.

The young adult book on which this play is based was co-written by humorist Dave Barry, and the play offers contemporary jokes and is told in a tongue-in-cheek style, said Williston Theater Director Emily Ditkovski. The Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher was nominated for a Tony award for best play in 2016.

According to Ditkovski, the play explores the often-dark path to find one’s best self. “There is no straight trajectory. The messiness of the journey is really important,” she said. “But that best self is there. It’s findable.” Continue reading

Justin Kim Paintings Challenge Tradition

Painting by Justin Kim
Painting by Justin Kim

Justin Kim’s work, on view at Williston’s Grubbs Gallery through April 28, combines the grand tradition of figure painting with a contemporary sensibility, exploring themes including archetype, pastiche, authenticity, and the relationship between technology and the artist’s hand. In addition to landscapes and figures, Kim works on miniature collages, combining forms and figures from traditional painting. His work generates tension between artifice and reality while challenging traditional painting structures.

Painting by Justin Kim
Painting by Justin Kim

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Kim received a B.A. from Yale University and an M.F.A. from the American University in Washington, D.C. He interned with the artist David Hockney, and has taught at Yale, Dartmouth College, Smith College, and Deep Springs College in California. The recipient of several residencies and awards, he has exhibited both regionally and nationally.

Arts Heat Up this Winter

Winter is no time for hibernation in the Arts Department. Students are busy rehearsing, creating, and learning new techniques, and a raft of performances and exhibits will give them a showcase for their talent and hard work.

Speaking of talent and hard work, Mark Wei ’17 received the Williston Working Artist Award, bestowed to those who go above and beyond in effort and achievement in the arts. This fall, Mark returned to campus after a summer internship at a Beijing studio determined to become a photographer. “It’s obvious that Mark has found his passion,” said photography teacher Ed Hing ’77. “He spends most of his waking hours in the Photo Lab thinking, creating, and making images. He aims for perfection in pursuit of his vision. The results have been exceptional and inspiring.” Congratulations, Mark!

On the heels of a daylong visit from Berklee College of Music student a cappella singers Pitch Slapped (read more here), Williston welcomed pianist Aaron Diehl. Diehl is one of the most sought after jazz virtuosos, consistently playing with what the New York Times describes as “melodic precision, harmonic erudition, and elegant restraint.” Diehl’s meticulously thought-out performances, collaborations, and compositions are a leading force in today’s generation of jazz contemporaries, spearheading a distinct union of traditional and fresh artistry. He was on campus to deliver a master class to Mario Flores’ instrumental students before his performance at the UMass Fine Arts Center with Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and fellow pianist Adam Birnbaum, playing songs by Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin. Read more about his visit here.

But there is still more to look forward to!

  • Artist Bill Mead is showing paintings through the end of February in the Grubbs Gallery.
  • Winter Choral Coffee House on February 16 will feature singers from Williston’s many choral groups at 7:30 in the Chapel.
  • Williston’s dancers will perform their winter moves during a show on February 27 at 4:30 p.m..
  • Theater Lab, featuring one-act plays of experimental theater, takes place on February 23 to 25 at 8 p.m. Read more about the plays and buy tickets here. (Free for Williston students)
  • Winter Pops Concert, February 26, 7 p.m. in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center (moved from the chapel at 7:30 p.m.).
  • Dance Concert, February 27 at 4:30 p.m. in the chapel.

Jazz Pianist Aaron Diehl Gives Master Class at Williston

Aaron Diehl listens while Derrick Zhao '18 plays.
Aaron Diehl listens while Derrick Zhao ’18 plays.

Mario Flores’s instrumental students got a treat yesterday when acclaimed pianist Aaron Diehl stopped by campus and delivered an impromptu master class. “It was a fantastic opportunity for our students!” said Flores, who leads the Williston’s orchestral and jazz programs and teaches music here.

Diehl is a sought-after jazz virtuoso, playing with what the New York Times describes as “melodic precision, harmonic erudition, and elegant restraint.” He will perform tonight at the UMass Fine Arts Center with Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and fellow pianist Adam Birnbaum, playing songs by Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin.

“We had four students play and work with him,” Flores said. Students brought a piano piece they were working on, either already learned or just beginning to master. Diehl listened and then provided feedback and suggestions about everything from expression of emotion to concrete advice about fingerings and hand position. “It was a casual but professional learning moment for our kids,” Flores said.

 

 

Wildlife Photographer Melissa Groo Kicks off Photographers’ Lecture Series

Melissa Groo will be on campus on January 19.
Melissa Groo will be on campus on January 19.

Award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, and conservationist Melissa Groo on January 19 will kick off Williston’s 2017 Photographers’ Lecture Series, which brings notable photographers to the Williston campus for a public lecture and in-depth classroom instruction for Williston students.

Groo began her career as a photographer after working in a number of diverse fields, including banking, education, modeling, and silversmithing. A passionate advocate for wildlife and an accomplished technical photographer, she quickly won prestigious assignments for leading photography magazines. She has completed three for Smithsonian Magazine, covering the great sandhill crane migration in Nebraska (March 2014), the rare spirit bear in Brittish Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest (September 2015), and the endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe in Uganda (forthcoming cover story, March 2017).

grooegret
Snowy egret, Photo by Melissa Groo

Her photographs have been published in many magazines, including Smithsonian, Audubon, Outdoor Photographer. Groo has received awards and honorable mentions in national and international photography competitions, including Audubon (Grand Prize winner 2015), Nature’s Best, NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association), Festival de L’Oiseau, Birds as Art, the HBW World Bird Photo Contest, and Nature Photographer Magazine. She shows regularly and her prints are in personal and corporate collections. Her winning Audubon photos were exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., from 2015-2016.

groospiritbears
Spirit bears, photo by Melissa Groo

All of Groo’s photographs are taken in the wild, without any baiting. She feels strongly about the use of ethical practices in the photography of wildlife, and tries her best to disrupt her subjects as little as possible. She created Audubon’s Guide for Ethical Bird Photography with Kenn Kaufman, and she’s advised National Wildlife Magazine and NANPA, as well as the National Audubon Society, on guidelines for ethical photography. She is also a judge for the National Audubon Society and the BigPicture Natural World photo contests.

She writes for several nature photography magazines and teaches photography, as well as maintaining involvement in organizations that promote conservation and ethical photography.

Groo has recently been named recipient of Audubon Connecticut’s 2017 Katie O’Brien Lifetime Achievement Award, which annually recognizes a person who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and commitment to the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. She will also receive North American Nature Photography Association’s 2017 Vision Award. This award is given to a photographer every two years in recognition of early career excellence, vision and inspiration to others in nature photography, conservation and education.

Wood duck, photo by Melissa Groo
Wood duck, photo by Melissa Groo

Groo worked for years at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, on elephant communication in their Bioacoustics Research Program. She was a research assistant for scientist Katy Payne with The Elephant Listening Project, and spent field seasons in the rainforest of central Africa studying forest elephants in the wild.

“Melissa’s respect, love, and admiration for her animal subjects comes through in work that is stunningly beautiful,” said Williston Visual and Performing Arts Teacher Edward Hing ’77, who coordinates the series. “She brings passion and professionalism to her craft, with the goal of making a positive impact on our dwindling wild places.”

The Photographers’ Lecture series features internationally acclaimed photographers who present and discuss their work to the school and community. Advanced photography students will have the opportunity to participate in a class taught by the photographers preceding the public lecture. Past visiting photographers have included Steve McCurry, known for his National Geographic magazine cover of the girl from Afghanistan, and award-winning sports photographer Damian Strohmeyer.

The free public lecture will take place in the Dodge Room in the Reed Campus Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Winter an Active Time for Williston Arts

Students are creating compelling abstract black and white compositions.
Students are creating compelling abstract black and white compositions.

Question: In this interstitial season when the fall play and concerts are complete and spring shows are a long way off, what’s going on in the the arts at Williston?

Answer: The arts are bustling in this “off” season!

Visual and Performing Arts Department Head Natania Hume notes that there is a buzz of activity right now in the arts. Documentary photo students recently took a field trip to MAP Gallery to meet with photographer Tracey Eller. The Caterwaulers, Williston’s male concert chorus, now has a critical mass of 30 voices and with all those basses can hit the low notes (the New Grove Dictionary of Opera defines the bass range as the E below middle C to the E above middle C). Winter dance revs up with student choreographers creating compelling and relevant work, including one celebrating the legacy of Black dancers and choreographers. And visual artists are hard at work starting with compositions in black and white.

“This in-between season is a ripe one for making art at Williston,” said Ms. Hume. “I always think of winter as a time when artists go inward and hunker down to create in earnest.”

The Caterwaulers are ready to sing low.

 

 

 

 

 

COMEDY OF ERRORS: Meet the Characters

There’s no denying it– Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors is pretty confusing. Two sets of twins lead to mistaken identities and everyone (characters and audience alike) ends up a little lost. Our production makes things more confusing because almost all of the actors play more than one role. And to add one more layer to the production…all of our actors are playing actors in a theatre troupe that is putting on The Comedy of Errors (anyone who can guess why we made this choice will earn my undying respect for all time). When the theatre opens before each performance, you will have the opportunity to see the troupe warm up, set the stage and may even get a chance to take a picture with them in The Comedy of Errors photo booth.

We want our audience to enjoy this production and have faith that any confusion will ultimately be cleared up. But if you are someone who likes to know what’s going on– we’ve got you covered! Read below to learn more about the characters!

ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE and ANTIPHOLUS OF EPHESUS

These two are twin brothers who were separated at birth by a sea-storm. Both are wealthy and high-status men. One day Antipholus of Syracuse comes to do business in Ephesus which, unbeknownst to him, is the hometown of his twin-brother. This leads to the central plot of the play– everyone mistaking Antipholus of Syracuse for his brother, Antipholus of Ephesus.

Antipholus of Syracuse (Richard) and Antipholus of Ephesus (Harrison)
Antipholus of Syracuse (Richard) and Antipholus of Ephesus (Harrison)

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE and DROMIO OF EPHESUS

These two (surprise!) twin brothers are each servant to their respective Antipholus. Their entire job is to do the bidding of their masters. The Dromios complicate the plot by each interacting with the wrong master, infuriating everyone. The Dromios are repeatedly beaten throughout the play. While the stage violence was played for laughs and set the stage for the slapstick comedy of Charlie Chaplin and the Three Stooges there were, in the original production, some subversive ideas about the complicated relationship between servant and master.

Dromio of Syracuse (Simone) and Dromio of Ephesus (Sarah)
Dromio of Syracuse (Simone) and Dromio of Ephesus (Sarah)

LUCIANA and ADRIANA

Adriana is Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife. She (rightly) suspects him of marital infidelity and is irate about the inequity between the sexes. At the start of the play she is waiting for her husband to come home to eat and ends up bringing the wrong man home to dinner. Luciana is Adriana’s sister and much more content to let power dynamics between the genders alone. Antipholus of Syracuse falls in love with her, although Luciana is convinced her brother-in-law has made a pass at her. Scandal ensues!

Luciana (Neha) and Adriana (Alara)
Luciana (Neha) and Adriana (Alara)

EGEON and EMILIA

Egeon is the father of our Antipholi. He raised Antipholus of Syracuse and has been searching for his other son for seven years. We meet him upon his arrival in Ephesus, where the Duke (see below) threatens to put Egeon to death because the towns of Ephesus and Syracuse are mortal enemies. Emilia is the Abbes in the Priory we see during the last scene of the play. She has a secret that saves the day!

Emilia (Nina) and Egeon (Henning)
Emilia (Nina) and Egeon (Henning)

THE DUKE and THE COURTESAN

The Duke is the leader of Ephesus. Despite sympathy for Egeon, he has to carry out the order to kill him. Typical for Shakespeare’s comedies, The Duke also restores order and balance by the end of the play. The Courtesan is a wealthy, eccentric woman who is the object of Antipholus of Ephesus’ roving eye. She stumbles upon Antipholus of Syracuse and demands a ring he (actually, his brother) stole from her.

The Courtesan (Trixie) and The Duke (Maddie)
The Courtesan (Trixie) and The Duke (Maddie)

DR. PINCH

After Adriana comes to the conclusion (with help from the Courtesan) that the only excuse for her husband’s behavior is madness, she hires Dr. Pinch to perform an exorcism. It doesn’t work and Ephesus is arrested.

Dr. Pinch (Nina)
Dr. Pinch (Nina)

BALTHAZAR,  ANGELO, SECOND MERCHANT

Balthazar is the owner of a tavern where Antipholus of Ephesus dines. After Ephesus is locked out of the house, Balthazar implores him to act calmly so he does not ruin his reputation. Angelo is a local merchant who owes money to the Second Merchant. He has made a chain for Antipholus of Ephesus which he accidentally gives to, you guessed it, Antipholus of Syracuse. This leads to more confusion, jealousy, and arrests.

Balthazar (Glede), Angelo (Maddie), Second Merchant (Yael)
Balthazar (Glede), Angelo (Maddie), Second Merchant (Yael)

MUSICIANS

While not written into Shakespeare’s play, we’ve added musicians to our production to enhance the wackiness of the story. Some characters have instruments closely connected to their characters, some instruments are used to help make the stage combat evenmore silly. Without a doubt, though, the musicians have grown into a critical part of our telling of the story.

Our musicians (Nina and Kevin) with their favorite instruments.
Our primary musicians (Nina and Kevin) with their favorite instruments.