A Summer of Ensemble Theatre



Ralph Lee’s Mettawee River Company of New York
A visit from our annual favorites with their new piece drawn from the shared folk traditions of Jews and Arabs, including the allegorical writings of philosophers and Sufi mystics, as well as fables and folklore. Many characters, including a leviathan, a couple of fish, some clever foxes, and a number of wise and foolish humans, are brought to you using puppets, masks and live music. An all-ages event, outdoors on the Amherst College Observatory Lawn off of Snell Street. Bring blankets, lawn chairs and insect repellant, but leave the pets at home.



FRIDAY-SUNDAY, JULY 18-20 at 8 p.m. in the Holden Theater

Touchstone Theatre of Bethlehem, PA in collaboration with Gerard Stropnicky of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble of Bloomsburg, PA
From Bethlehem, PA, Touchstone Theatre brings us an original piece of ensemble theatre in which we see how relationships with our parents and our children evolve, and how the “sandwich generation” manages. It’s an exploration of the meaning of time and life, acted with Touchstone’s characteristic humor, poignancy, and movement. Drawn from texts as diverse as T.S. Eliot’s FOUR QUARTETS and texts by Einstein, Stephen Hawking and contemporary cosmologists, IF AT ALL is an entertaining and provocative creation that strives at the mystery of our day to day struggle with nature of time and eternity. The company brings together relatives and relativity, and the conjunction of the cosmic and the commonplace, in a work that offers some ideas of love, faith, the healing power of time, and the joy that comes from the journey.


The Ko Festival of Performance hosts:



a gathering of artists, presenters, critics, scholars, and students interested in ensemble theatre with the participation of (to date):

Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble Cornerstone Theater Double Edge Theatre
Ghost Road Company HartBeat Ensemble Irondale Ensemble Project
Mabou Mines Ko Theater Works NaCl
Sandglass Theater Theatre Grottesco Touchstone Theatre
A Traveling Jewish Theatre

The following performances at the conference are open to the public:



THURSDAY – FRIDAY JULY 24-25 at 7 & 9 p.m. in Webster Hall, Studio 3

A co-production of NaCl Theatre and Strike Anywhere of New York
Conceived and performed by Tannis Kowalchuk and Leese Walker

“In the dark times will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing about the dark times.”

This timely piece celebrates the voice of artists, Brecht the poet, the wonders of theatre, and humankind’s unstoppable struggle for light in the shadows of war, oppression and suffering. The talented duo of Tannis Kowalchuk and Leese Walker make use of their extensive training in physical theatre, music, and storytelling to bring to life this New Theatre performance. Each of the ten poems in the series is heralded by a handwritten placard and a simple chime, as the actresses juxtapose song, dance and humor with Brecht’s poignant social critique and moving poetry. With grace, skill, and extraordinary energy, the actresses transform the stage, turning simple instruments and objects into the devices of a performance style akin to magical realism.



THURSDAY – FRIDAY JULY 24-25 at 8 p.m. in the Holden Theater

The Irondale Ensemble Project of New York
The Irondale Ensemble, an experimental/research theater ensemble established in 1983, with a history of 40 major Off-Broadway shows, brings us a glimpse of 1927, a time when America was at a crossroads, looking with hope and vision to the creation of a new and better future. In order to commemorate a nation on the verge of cultural advances, captain of industry John Rockefeller, Jr. enlisted Diego Rivera, a world-renowned artist from Mexico, to paint a mural over the information desk in the main lobby of the RCA Building at Rockefeller Center. Before Rivera’s colorful fresco could be completed, Rockefeller’s representative noticed a prominent portrait of USSR founder Vladimir Lenin. They fired Rivera, concealed the painting from the public’s view and later blasted his work off the wall with air hammers, reducing it to dust and rubble. In telling the story, Diego Rivera makes use of the lives and legends of other prominent figures of the age, notably Charles Lindbergh and John Dillinger, in order to examine the role of the hero and anti-hero in American society. Like Rivera, they too attempted to provoke the prevailing powers, and both were destroyed by the ‘Rockefellers’ with whom they did battle.


SATURDAY – SUNDAY JULY 26-27 at 7 & 9 p.m. in Webster Hall, Studio 3

Cornerstone Theatre of Los Angeles
ASSIMILATION is a solo performance piece written and performed by Shishir Kurup, an Indo-African-American Actor/Writer/Director/Composer born in Bombay, India and raised in Mombassa, Kenya. Directed by Page Leong, the piece is a serio-comic unraveling of the complexities of emigration. Stories of struggling for identity within America’s homogenizing melting pot are told through vignettes featuring a white Southern boy, an aging African street vendor, a Thai waitress, two Palestinian shopkeepers and a liberal casting director. ASSIMILATION premiered at Highways Performance Space in Los Angeles. Kurup is an award-winning ensemble member of the renowned Cornerstone Theater Company, whose members frequently travel throughout rural and urban America and settle in towns for several weeks to put on a play. The company works collectively with community members to adapt classic plays to meet specific issues and needs within the community. ASSIMILATION will soon be published by Rutgers Press in the anthology Word: A Century of Asian American Writing.”


SATURDAY – SUNDAY JULY 26-27 at 8 p.m. in the Holden Theater

The Ghost Road Company of Los Angeles
An adaptation of the Oresteia, conceived and directed by Katharine Noon, written by Katharine Noon and Chris DeWan, with words and music by David Bickford, this production was developed by the Ghost Road Ensemble in collaboration with Theatre of NOTE under the auspices of the ASK Common Ground Festival. It is an exploration of the Greek plays that encompass the fall of the House of Atreus. Set against the backdrop of the Trojan war, the events of the story are seen through the eyes of the one who stayed at home, Clytemnestra. CLYT AT HOME, created through an ensemble process, pulls from many varied sources ranging from the plays themselves to current headlines which are, in turn, filtered through the personal points of view of each member of the ensemble. Through this process an entirely new theatrical world is created as we follow the journey of Clytemenstra through the events of these stories. The world is one of facade and political spin, as the characters try to hold the power structure together the interior of their lives is in full decay. In this timely production, the country is financially gutted from fighting wars abroad. There is unrest in the streets and the ruling class is in hiding . As the play progresses this facade begins to crack. Clytemenestra, a woman born into power, plays the game of the dutiful political wife in a loveless marriage until the death of her daughter. Something snaps in her and she takes matters into her own hands. A woman, beaten by life, decides to take control of her destiny. She discovers, for the first time, that she has a choice but with that choice comes a cost. This production received a LA Weekly Award for best actress, Jacqueline Wright (Clytemnestra) and was nominated for an LA Weekly Award for best adaptation, and an Ovation Award for best play,

For further conference information and registration visit:

Post-Conference Performances:

FRIDAY-SUNDAY, AUGUST 1-3 at 8 p.m. in the Holden Theater


Sandglass Theater of Putney, VT
in a piece about time, memory, cultural history, and the sense of life’s mystery. Using texts from Walter Benjamin, the 1920’s/30’s German Jewish literary critic, Bass and members of Sandglass Theater create a world of image in which a key has been irrevocably lost, but the desire to search for it remains. This is a state of longing, a search for that which cannot be found. It is the search which matters, not the object of the search. The world of ONE WAY STREET is populated by figures who are fragments of dreams, of childhood, of poems. These characters emerge from Benjamin’s texts: the Angel of History, the Little Hunchback of nursery songs, and someone who suggests Benjamin himself but who might be any searcher, any collector of the timeless objects of history and culture. These characters inhabit the remains of cities, the buildings of which are themselves only fragments. Somewhere within these fragments is a key, but one can only wander and hope to encounter it. Collaborating on the project is Salvadoran theater director Roberto Salomon, who works and resides in Geneva, composer Paul Dedell, and Sandglass co-founder, Ines Zeller Bass.

Due to illness, the Ko Festival of Performance must postpone its performances of SOUNDING TO A. The production will appear next season, in the 2004 Ko Festival of Performance. In its place we have the following:


FRIDAY-SUNDAY, AUGUST 8-10 at 8 p.m. in the Holden Theater

Chimaera Physical Theater of Amherst, MA
THE LIVING ROOM is an evening of work by the Chimera Physical Theater, movement/theater artists who are based in Amherst, but who perform nationally and internationally. THE LIVING ROOM is a bold combination of theatrical narrative and the pure physicality of dance. The essence inherent in dance is combined with the specific desires and personality of a human character. The result is a physical theater where potent emotional expression, the heightened specificity of intention and the sheer power of unbound physical movement come together to communicate directly to the hearts and minds of the audience.

The concert will include The Living Room, Soliloquy, and a new piece created while in residence at KO, called KO-Lab Oration.

The Living Room: “dramatically intense and often boisterously amusing…alarming and entertaining to behold.” Told through a vivid and emotionally charged physical language, The Living Room takes you through the lives of two characters, compressing and expanding time, and stabbing to the heart of its central question: do you dare to deeply love another person? Soliloquy is a solo to the music of J. S. Bach, which takes the audience into the internal struggle of a human being’s passionate desire to change. is a wildly dynamic piece,
 — Jack Anderson of the New York Times