• 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

  • OK, OK

    $11.00$24.00

    Fri. & Sat. July 12-13 at 8pm, Sunday July 14 at 4pm

    Writer/Performer: KATIE PEARL Additional Performers: LAURIE McCANTS, CARRIE  J. COLE,  SHEILA SIRAGUSA Scenic Design: SUSANNE HOUSTLE Lighting Design: SABRINA HAMILTON
    OK, OK is a performance reckoning with the racism of today through the lens of what Katie Pearl learned—and didn't learn—about Oklahoma history while growing up in Tulsa, OK. Performed by Pearl with a local ensemble of four, OK, OK weaves together personal biography and civic narrative to crack open closed surfaces and get at what’s underneath. Hilarious, heartbreaking and informative, it reveals the truths and untruths we as a country tell ourselves about who we are, where we came from, and where we're going.
    OK, OK was developed, in part, during a 2018 Ko Festival Rehearsal Residency.
    Running time: Approx. 85 minutes. Suitable for ages 12 and up.
  • 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.
  • Fri. & Sat. July 5-6 at 8pm, Sunday July 7 at 4pm

    Lead Writer/Performer/Deviser: HILARY CHAPLAIN Director/Deviser NANCY SMITHNER Puppeteeers/Makers/Devisers: ARIEL LAURYN & MINDY ESCOBAR-LEANSE Composer/Musician: SERGEI DREZNIN Lighting Design: SABRINA HAMILTON Scenic Design: JUDY GAILEN Dramaturg: STEPHEN RINGOLD
    Our 2019 season opens with THE LAST RAT OF THERESIENSTADT, a show about Sofia Brünn, a Weimar cabaret star from 1930's Berlin who finds herself transplanted to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. In this completely foreign habitat, she forges an unlikely friendship with Pavel, a rat (played by a puppet), who despite the lack of food that has driven away the rest of his kind, remains out of love for her and her art. THE LAST RAT is show about resistance and hope, and the need to fill the soul as well as the body. A black comedy, it's a low tech, multi-media play with music, rod/bunraku style puppetry (our titular Rat), shadow puppetry,  overhead projections (artwork from the camp used to set the scene and illustrate a landscape for our story) — and three performers. Developed at Ko during a 2017 rehearsal residencythe piece was performed in New York at The Tank and to sold-out houses at two theater/puppet festivals in Poland.  It won the Jury Grand Prize, Student Jury Prize, Audience Prize, A Moment of Beauty in Puppetry  awards at the  Lalka Tez Cztowiek Puppet Fest, Warsaw, Poland. It will be touring to Israel in the fall. For adults, but appropriate for mature 10-11 year olds and up. Running time: Approx 75 mins.
  • (dis)Place[d]

    $10.00$24.00

    Fri. & Sat. July 26-27 at 8pm, Sunday July 28 at 4pm

    fool'sFURY

    Written and performed by DEBÓRAH ELIEZER Directed by BEN YALOM Video Design: KEDAR LAWRENCE Lighting Design: SABRINA HAMILTON

    In (dis)Place[d], foolsFURY Co-Artistic Director Debórah Eliezer cracks open the assumptions of her own identity through the story of her father, Edward Ben-Eliezer, an Iraqi Jew born in 1930, a member of the Zionist underground, refugee, Israeli spy, and immigrant to America. Eliezer brings twenty years’ experience as an acclaimed physical performer to create a dozen different characters, including her father at three different ages, her great grandmother, their Iraqi neighbors, an ethereal embodiment of the Tigris Euphrates valley itself, refugees, immigrants, and more. First generation immigrants have often hidden the stories of their past, sometimes to keep painful memories from their children, sometimes to enthusiastically embrace their new countries. The children are caught between cultures, with no way of acknowledging a multi-national, multi-ethnic identity. It was not until Eliezer’s father had begun his descent into dementia that she began to glimpse his past. “We kept cyanide in our socks,” he said out of the blue one day. And she learned that her peace-loving father had been a spy for the Israeli Defense Forces. Other stories trickled out:
    • as a child he hid for days on a rooftop as Baghdadi Jews were slaughtered during the Farhoud, a Nazi-inspired “pogrom”;
    • at 11 he joined the Zionist underground, smuggling weapons;
    • at 19 he was targeted for assassination, fled Baghdad, crossed the desert on foot, and lived in a refugee camp on the Iraq/Iran border for two years;
    • he managed to bring 8 of his 9 siblings to Israel, unable to save the eldest, who stayed behind and was killed.
    Bit by bit Debórah uncovered her roots, and the remarkable history of the Iraqi Jewish Diaspora. Remarkable because Jews had been deeply integrated into Iraqi life for over 2500 years, and made up a third of Baghdad’s population in 1940. And because, within a decade, all 130,000 were gone, expelled, escaped, or killed. Today fewer than 10 Jews remain in Iraq. (DIS)PLACE[D] follows her exploration of these stories, and asks hard questions: Who has the right to tell the story of a people? What is the significance of borders versus land and culture? What is the relationship of nationality to identity? The work aims to open a space for community dialogue around these issues in general, and specifically within the diaspora of Mizrahi Jews. Through this journey, the artist also finds a missing part of herself, “a song sung in a language I can’t understand” as she puts it. “A dream I can’t remember.”

    “Luminous…So beautifully written, performed and directed that you might wish it were longer.” (SF Examiner)

  • 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.
  • LESSONS OF HUMANITY

    $11.00$24.00

    Fri. & Sat. August 2 & 3 at 8pm, Sunday August 4 at 4pm

    An original performance by SAMITE

    Lighting Design by Sabrina Hamilton

    A performance tailor-made by Samite to fit KoFest's 2019 season theme of "HABITAT: (human)" using a rich a blend of traditional African music and personal stories that draw on his own experience of war in Idi Amin’s Uganda, and his life as a refugee who finds his new home in rural upstate New York to be a place from which he can reach out globally to help remind others of their strength, so that they may find peace. Funded in part by the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.
  • Out of stock

    We are currently very close to selling out. Please call the Box Office regarding limited availability. (413) 542-3750.

    Saturday, July 20 at 8pm - one night only!

    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 "HABITAT."And this year we're interested in stories that have to do with human habitats - particularly changes in human habitats. For example we might have a story that looks back at where someone grew up, or about move to a new locale or culture.  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! 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 after July 1, 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 15-20.