A Halloween basket of goodies in the area this weekend and next – from ghost stories imagined and real, to plays witchy and weird, plus a one-night Happening. (Most venues require proof of Covid vaccination and have distanced seating; contact them for confirmation or variants.)
Here’s a rundown, in the companies’ own words.
Everybody, at UMass this weekend, directed by Rudy Ramirez, is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ metatheatrical take on the Medieval morality play Everyman, an allegorical guided tour through life to the inevitability of death. It’s a sort of companion to An Octoroon, Jacobs-Jenkins’ mischievous race- and gender-bending deconstruction of a 19th-century melodrama. (Content Advisory for the faint of heart: “Strong language, discussions of death.”)
The play follows an unfortunate soul grappling with their imminent death, while also confronting the important parts of their life…in a comedy? Yep. As Death personified says, “What does it mean when God just leaves you to figure it out?” Figuring it out is a laugh-out-loud funny journey with these characters, who aren’t always their best – or smartest – selves in the moment. Family, friends, money – what will matter the most to everybody in the end? What can we do in the meantime?
In this show, our actors are also presented with a unique challenge: Their characters will be chosen randomly, giving us a different show: Every. Single. Night.
Oct 21-22 at 7:30 pm & 23 at 2 pm, Rand Theater, UMass Amherst. $15 general admission, $5 youth, students, and seniors, and can be purchased in advance online at the Fine Arts Center Box Office or 413-545-2511.
Whispering Bones is a now-traditional but ever-changing ghost-story cycle presented by Pauline Productions in Ashfield, one night only.
An evening of ghost stories for the whole family (ages 10+ would best appreciate it). Each year, Kelvin Karaga puts together a fun evening of ghost stories – classic, creepy and comic – and a cast of tellers from upstate New York, Vermont, and Ashfield. As the character Erastus Betterov-Underhill, he guides us through six stories by six different performers. The show is now in its 11th incarnation and second time at Pauline Productions. Local storytellers this year are Jeannine Haas and Delta Carney.
Oct. 23 @ 7:30, First Congregational Church of Ashfield, tix at EventBrite.com or at the door. Adults $15, kids 10 & up $7, or what you can. More info: PaulineLive.com.
Macbeth is Shakespeare’s creepiest tragedy (if you don’t count the rape, mutilation and cannibalism in Titus Andronicus) – three witches foresee a crown on our hero’s head, which he achieves with the aid of cold-blooded murders and a hot-blooded wife. Next weekend, Hilary Dennis leads a cast of eight in a “devised” production, put together in much the same way the play was first produced.
Three Weïrd Sisters, a prophecy, and the happiest married couple in Shakespeare. Macbeth is a devised, 90-minute theatre piece performed by an international cast of 8 actors in 7 days with no director. This project’s goal is to center the actor in a collaborative creative process.
Our team are close friends, consummate professionals, teachers, aspiring Shakespeareans, and mothers. I’m asking them to come together in organized chaos to devise our own version of Macbeth, embracing the magical simplicity of actor and poetry.
Oct. 30 at 7 pm & 31st at 4 pm, The Workroom @ 33 Hawley St. Northampton. Free.
Someone Else’s House is a “live virtual performance” from TheaterWorks in Hartford. Viewings, over the next two weeks, are available at home or in the theater.
Obie Award-winning multimedia artist Jared Mezzocchi has a harrowing story to tell: his family’s frightening, true-life haunting inside a 200-year-old New England house. “This is my family’s true story. The house you see in the picture is an actual photo taken just before a series of terrifying events began to unfold.”
Jared will be hosting our haunted gatherings via Zoom complete with audience interaction. This show is not pre-recorded. No two hauntings are the same. A Conjuring Packet [optional] – not to be opened until showtime – is a collection of artifacts that we’ll mail to you that helps set the scene for the haunting. It’s not necessary to enjoy the show but it is a special part of the experience.
Oct. 22-31, 8 pm (Saturdays also midnight). Recommended for ages 12+. Info & tickets at TheaterWorks.
A Happening is not specifically Halloween-themed, but this “immersive, interactive, living art installation,” this Friday only at the Shea Theater, has a holiday vibe. An Eggtooth production, it’s created and directed by musician Sam Perry, an extension of his Covid-era online performances.
A Happening is an intersection of music, visual art, installation art, festival energy, immersive theater and multimedia experimentation. I’ve gathered artists from across mediums and across the Pioneer Valley to create an unforgettable, immersive Art experience unlike anything audiences have ever experienced before. The night of festivities will include live painting and music, craft vendors, immersive theater and sound installations.
Oct. 22, 7-10 pm, Shea Theater Arts Center, Turner Falls. Advance tickets $20.00 at showclix.com, info at sheatheater.org. *This is a walking performance and not all spaces will be handicapped accessible*
Whispering Bones graphic (featured image) by Darcy May
Someone Else’s House photo courtesy of Geffen Playhouse
Everybody design by Chenoa Albertson from a concept by Natasha Hawkins
In the Valley Advocate’s present bi-monthly publication schedule, Stagestruck will continue to be a regular feature, with additional posts online. Write me at Stagestruck@crocker.com if you’d like to receive notices when new pieces appear.
Note: The weekly Pioneer Valley Theatre News has comprehensive listings of what’s on and coming up in the Valley and beyond. You can check it out and subscribe (free) here: http://www.pioneervalleytheatre.com/
The Stagestruck archive is at valleyadvocate.com/author/chris-rohmann
If you’d like to be notified of future posts, email Stagestruck@crocker.com