• Jimmy and Lorraine

    JIMMY & LORRAINE

    $11.00$24.00

    Sunday Performance is almost sold out. Call box office for ticket availability. (413) 542-3750 Tickets still available for Sunday performance.

    Fri. & Sat. July 7 –8 at  8pm, Sun. July 9 at 4pm.

    by TALVIN WILKS

    Performed by HARTBEAT ENSEMBLE

    Developed by playwright Talvin Wilks through research and in collaboration with HartBeat Ensemble members, this play is a meditation on the American political climate of the late '50s and early '60s through the lens of two significant artists and social activists of the time. James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry were firebrands who helped to forge an image of a true America, an inclusive America, one that debunked all notions of a second-class citizenship. Significant speeches, television interviews, and political debates all served as fodder for this investigation. The result is a piece that gives a view of the personal lives of the two artists, exploring key relationships that navigate the challenging terrain of race, class, sexuality, and friendship while holding up a mirror to America’s history and shedding light on the issues of race, art and politics in an ever-changing multicultural society. James Baldwin taught locally at Hampshire College and UMASS. We hope that post-show discussions will feature recollections by his colleagues.

    HartBeat's performances at Ko are supported, in part, by the the New England States Touring Programs of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the 6 New England state arts agencies.
    “Simply put, this seemingly modest gem is one of the best plays of the year..." —Frank Rizzo, Hartford Courant

    Jimmy & Lorraine was nominated for the 2015 Best New Play award by the American Theater Critics Circle.
  • THE OVEN

    $11.00$24.00
    Fri. & Sat. July 13-14 at 8pm, Sunday July 15 at 1:30 pm PLEASE NOTE NON-STANDARD SUNDAY PERFORMANCE TIME! Written and performed by ILAN STAVANS Directed by MATTHEW GLASSMAN Lighting by SABRINA HAMILTON After a chance meeting with a shaman in Colombia, Ilan Stavans, the highly regarded literary scholar, found himself in the Amazon rainforest. He had reluctantly agreed to participate in a religious ceremony that involved taking the hallucinogen ayahuasca. Even though he considered himself a skeptic and a rational intellectual, as someone whose worldview was defined by his education and his heritage as a Mexican Jew, Stavans found that the ritual pushed him to reconsider many of his basic understandings, including his perceptions of indigenous cultures in Latin America, as well as his career as teacher, thinker, and artist. This one-act play is delivered in the form of a lecture that mimics the author’s startling spiritual journey.

    BUZZ ON THE OVEN

    "How does a mild-mannered scholar/writer/professor become a jaguar, kill and eat a deer? I got to witness Ilan Stavans’ re-immersion into what happened to him, telling and showing the audience his impulsive and, transformative journey into the dark Columbian night. He finished the performance shirtless and soaked with sweat. I drove home, filled with the knowledge that there are so many worlds in our world and “reality” is, indeed, a shifting and terrifying place. And how the theater, in the hands of a great story and good actor, can give reality a good shake."—Connie Congdon, author of Tales of the Lost Formicans

    "Ilan Stavans’ wonderful The Oven is a daring reveal of his deep dive into another culture, told with humor, poignancy, and excitement. His self-effacement and emotional awareness pokes holes at academic stuffiness. He is fully in it, and brings his audience along on this spiritual journey both of the shamanic tradition he visits in Latin America and his own deep Jewish heritage."—Stacy Klein, founder and director, Double Edge Theatre

    "Ilan Stavans is one of today’s most prolific shapers of Latinx letters, in his scholarly and creative work, and both are realized in this hybrid project. The Oven innovates in content and form. It offers a penetrating look behind the façade of our existence, in a non-appropriative way; Stavans is always conscious of his outsider/cosmopolitan status. It will certainly stimulate much critical and creative conversation and scholarship."—Frederick Luis Aldama, author of Long Stories Cut Short: Fictions from the Borderlands and editor of The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Popular Culture

    "A compelling piece of stagecraft that documents the inner and outer workings of a mind on a narcotic trip, but it also documents the uncanny and serendipitous curiosity of a literature professor."—William A. Nericcio, editor of Homer from Salinas: John Steinbeck’s Enduring Voice for California

  • Fri. & Sat. July 6 & 7 at 8pm, Sunday July 8 at 4pm An original performance by The Hinterlands Created and Performed by Richard Newman, Liza Bielby, and Dave Sanders. Live Scoring by Richard Newman. Scenic design by Shoshanna Utchenik Archive Creation by Casey Rocheteau and Liza Bielby Publication design by Benjamin Gaydos Layering historical accounts of the radical left in the 1960’s and 70’s with a master class in American method acting, socialist pageantry, and a gleefully obtuse re-production of The Living Theatre’s Antigone, THE RADICALIZATION PROCESS stokes the embers of America’s past revolutions to ignite our radical potential. Audiences begin the performance sifting through a basement archive of a forgotten revolutionary, navigating histories true and false, real and imagined, before they make their way into the performance space, a safe-house within a house in 1970s Detroit. Imagery unfolds both mundane and shocking; a live-score is performed on analog synthesizers and everyday objects; L’Internationale is sung; an explosion occurs. The Radicalization Process asks us to question our assumptions about what drives us to take action, how far is too far, and what role the imagination has in revolution. Also, it’s funny. Sometimes. Other times it’s really dark. But hey, that’s America! WHAT THE PRESS HAS SAID: Check out Rosie Sharp’s review of the piece in Hyperallergic The performance was commissioned by Legion Arts, Power House Productions and Alverno Presents with generous support from the National Performance Network, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the NEA Artworks program.
  • INDUSTRIOUS ANGELS

    $11.00$24.00
    Fri. & Sat. August 3 & 4 at 8pm, Sunday August 5 at 4pm INDUSTRIOUS ANGELS is hand-made by Laurie McCants, in collaboration with director/lighting designer Sabrina Hamilton, scenic designer F. Elaine Williams, and composer Guy Klucevsek, who has created a haunting score with piano, violin, accordion, and toy piano. Funded in part by the Amherst Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. INDUSTRIOUS ANGELS is a solo hand-crafted-story-spinning-shadow-puppet-memory-play-with-music evoking the secret creative lives of women, mother/daughter bloodlines, and the ghost of Emily Dickinson. In a shadowed attic, crammed with curio cabinets, work tables, chests and drawers (containers for mementos and unmentionables), a daughter searches for what it is that ties together her mother, herself, and a radical, elusive poet. A story about the crafting of stories, INDUSTRIOUS ANGELS was conceived by actor/creator Laurie McCants on a visit to Emily Dickinson’s home, where the poet wrote the almost 1800 poems that were found after her death.  The story unfolds through puppetry, paper-cutting, music, movement, light and dark, and the weaving together of words.  It is a dance of the hands honoring women’s handiwork:  mending, preserving, ordering, adorning, writing, hiding. This piece was developed at the Ko Festival of Performance and the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. It first premiered at the Ko Festival in 2011 and is being reworked and revived this year at Ko in conjunction with Annual Meeting of the Emily Dickinson International Society which is being hosted by the Emily Dickinson Museum. An elite group of musicians, from as far afield as Vienna, gathered to record Klucevsek’s score for INDUSTRIOUS ANGELS. They include Todd Reynolds on violin, pianist and toy piano prodigy Isabel Ettenauer, and the composer on accordion.
  • KOFEST STORY SLAM 2018

    $11.00$17.00
    CLICK HERE FOR INFO ABOUT OUR 2019 STORY SLAM on JULY 20
    Saturday, July 21 2018 at 8pm - one night only!
    WE ARE VERY CLOSE TO SELLING OUT AND ARE NO LONGER SELLING TICKETS ONLINE! PLEASE CALL THE BOX OFFICE AT (413) 542-3750 TO CHECK FOR AVAILABILITY OR TO GET ON THE WAITING LIST. You’ve heard of poetry slams – competitive poetry events. This is one is for first person, true stories – told live and without notes – just like most of the shows you see on the lineup this season. Cash Bar & Prizes! Tickets are $16, which goes to support the Ko Festival of Performance. Additional donations gratefully accepted.
    Stories must be true and told without notes, and under 5 minutes long, and related to our season theme of "RADICAL ACTS." It could be a story about you, or a story about someone or something you've personally observed, but somehow it must be have that first-person element. Lots of room for lots of kinds of stories. There will be some pre-selected ringers, but this might be your opportunity to take your place on the Ko Festival stage alongside KoFest artists & staff. We’ll have a few slots reserved for last minute sign-ups —our very first grand prize winner was someone who decided at the last minute to share a hilarious story about her experiences being fitted for a Playboy Bunny costume at the Playboy Club in NYC. If we have too many sign-ups, we’ll audition the first lines of stories – and audience members will get to vote on which ones should be told in their entirety! Feeling a bit unsure? We’re offering a limited number private storytelling coaching sessions from Ko Festival artists! Call 413.427.6147 to sign-up for one of these slots or for more information. Price for this coaching is a donation to the Ko Festival. Whatever you can afford. Know a great raconteur? – tell them about the event! Everyone should come prepared to listen, but you may want to come prepared to tell! Club style lighting will be by Holly Gettings. And to help you wet your whistle we’ll have a cash bar. And prizes! We'll be saving a few slots to be given away on the night - but we're currently accepting pitches for pre-slotting. To be considered for pre-slotting please email info@kofest.com about your story, and give us a little biographical background. Or you can call (413) 427-6147. You may also wish to hone your story by taking Gerard Stropnicky's FIRST PERSON: Crafting your Story for Performance Workshop which runs from July 16-21.
  • DEATH OF A MAN

    $10.00$24.00
    Fri. & Sat. July 28-29 at 8pm, Sunday July 30 at 4pm NEW WORLD PERFORMANCE LAB Conceived and performed by JAIRO CUESTA Directed by JAMES SLOWIAK Two years ago, NWPL set out on an expedition to understand their hometown’s relationship with rubber. Through the pillaging of natural rubber in the Amazon forests, and the working class citizens who broke their backs building tires – Akron, OH became the "Rubber City." In this solo performance Colombian actor and NWPL C0-Artistic Director,  Jairo Cuesta performs a ritual of storytelling, a sacrifice to heal the city. In this moving evocation of the jungles of the Amazon where countless indigenous men, women, and children were mutilated and massacred in the mad search for natural rubber, Cuesta seeks to lead the public on a quest for the sources of a city’s sorrow. Through his virtuosic physical and vocal skills, Cuesta enacts a ritual of storytelling, a sacrifice to heal the city by confronting the violence and blood on which the city is built.  The piece has been directed by University of Akron theatre professor and NWPL co-artistic director James Slowiak. DEATH OF A MAN is an attempt at authentic intercultural understanding by reengaging the past and bringing it alive in the present. The performance is not meant to sentimentalize the story or merely invoke empathy, but to interrogate, criticize, and empower by opening a dialogue between text, past, present, performer, and audience.  The performance event is based loosely on John Tully’s book, “The Devil’s Milk: A Social History of Rubber,” along with other historical and fictional sources. Cuesta and Slowiak traveled to the Amazon in 2016 where they engaged in meetings with members of the indigenous community represented in the performance. Watch this fascinating video about their trip to the Amazon.
    Watch Videoi
  • Tense Vagina
    Fri. & Sat. July 14 & 15 at 8pm,  Sun. July 16 at 4pm Created and performed by SARA JULI TENSE  VAGINA: an actual diagnosis is about motherhood — its beauty, challenges, isolation, comedy and influence on the human experience. This hour-long evening-length solo uses humor, movement, sounds, songs, text and audience participation to reveal “all that is awesome and all that sucks” when it comes to being a mother. TENSE VAGINA focuses on the seldom-discussed and taboo aspects of motherhood, such as loss of bladder control, tears, monotony, loneliness and dildos. The narrative is anchored in sharing the physical therapy Sara received at The Pelvic Floor Rehab Center of New England as she sheds light and humor on her treatment of post-childbirth urinary incontinence. Created and Performed by Sara Juli with an original set by Pamela Moulton, Costume by Carol Farrell and with Lighting Design by Justin Moriarty, adapted by Sabrina Hamilton. The show runs 1 hour with no intermission and is not appropriate for children due to its strong language, subject matter and dildos. WE WILL BE PROVIDING ON-SITE CHILDCARE FOR THE SUNDAY, 4PM SHOW.  Please call the box office after July 3 at (413) 542-3750 to reserve and so that we can get information about your child.  
    “Who knew a tense vagina could be so funny?” – Dance View Times “Tense Vagina is the rare piece that harnesses art and advocacy into perfect harmony, making for an unforgettably hilarious and edifying experience.” – Independent Weekly "Like a standup routine performed in a supine position while doing Kegel exercises.” – The New Yorker "Tense Vagina is thrillingly feminist, and very much belongs to the current zeitgeist.” - The Five Point Star
  • mettawee-ko-2017

    BEFORE THE SUN & MOON

    $8.00$10.00
    Sunday, July 23 at 8pm - One Show Only! Special All-Ages Event Performed by the METTAWEE RIVER THEATRE COMPANY Directed by RALPH LEE The Mettawee River Theatre Company has spent two years preparing this new piece, BEFORE THE SUN AND MOON, which is drawn from an ancient Korean folktale. It is a magical story, in which a husband and wife discover the power of love and devotion through many unexpected challenges and wild adventures. The production will incorporate an array of giant figures, puppets, and masks and will be performed out under the stars in a landscape permeated with live music, song and a spirit of celebration. On the Amherst College Observatory Lawn off of Snell Street in Amherst. Bring blankets, lawn chairs and insect repellent, but leave the dogs at home! Tickets: $9 Adults / $7 Children (12 & under). Cash or check only, No credit cards at the door. No reservations necessary! (Unless the weather looks iffy on the day of the performance, in which case the rain space is the Holden  Theatre) Running Time: Approx. 1 hour. Mettawee's performance at Ko is supported, in part, by the Amherst Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency
  • LIKE A MOTHER BEAR

    $11.00$24.00
    Fri. & Sat. July 27-28 at 8pm, Sunday July 29 at 4pm BLACK SWAN ARTS & MEDIA Writer/Performer: HELEN STOLTZFUS Director/Dramaturg: ALBERT GREENBERG Original Director/Dramaturg Martha Boesing Lighting Design: SABRINA HAMILTON What happens when the last grizzly bear dies? What happens to a sleep that is no longer slept by a bear? LIKE A MOTHER BEAR follows one woman’s extraordinary journey to healing in which she encounters the Great Bear Mother of the imagination and the very real endangered bear of the wilderness.  Based on the playwright’s personal story, this life-changing experience propels her on an odyssey that moves from the bear den of dreams to the office of an Elvis-impersonating acupuncturist to the Alaska wilderness. She relives her past illness and infertility, grappling with the “womb-knowledge” that insists that life continue even in the face of environmental devastation. In the wilds she comes to understand the connection between her own endangered health and that of the threatened grizzly bear – as well as the painful and exhilarating secret of what it means to become like a mother bear. In this groundbreaking call to action, personal healing and the welfare of future generations are inextricably entwined with the survival of the natural world. A compelling quest for birth of spirit… San Francisco Examiner This is a deeply significant personal journey that has great meaning for individual women and for the planet... Jean Shinoda Bolen, author of Goddesses in Every Woman and Close to the Bone