Mr. Wonka and Charlie

The Thrill of Live Performance

The thrill of live performance! For many of us, there is nothing like it. Some of these become lifetime memories. We say, “I was there when…” and the sentence might continue with—

“…Jennifer Holiday sang ‘And I am telling you, I’m not going’ in ‘Dreamgirls’”

“…the original cast of the Chorus Line changed theater forever”

“…Vladimir Horowitz gave his last Carnegie Hall recital”

“…Phish gave their farewell tour”

Or in our own community—

“…Tina Sotis and Gabe Lassor broke our hearts in Val Coleman’s ‘The Stamp Collection’”

“…Ben Luxon and Jesse Howard, Sandisfield Players young and old, magical sets and costumes, took us to another world with ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’”

“…The Sandisfield Players presented ‘Our Town’ on the stage of the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, England”

“…Linda Mironti brought a New York cabaret night of Cole Porter to the stage of the Sandisfield Arts Center”

I was there when the audience was lifted out of its seats. I was there when the audience was stunned into silence before erupting in bravos. I was there…

***

The Program Committee of the Sandisfield Arts Center is planning what we can offer for the 2021 season and our delayed 25th anniversary celebration. How can the highlights planned for last year, and canceled, be brought to you this year? What can “work” online in the initial months? What is so essentially an in-person, gathering-with-others event that it has to wait until our doors can safely open—which is, as of now, still a guess?

We know that online events can be “live,” can be interactive, can be well produced and thrilling in their own way, and we’ve got a few we think you’d like—possibly a special recital by pianist and Arts Center favorite Fred Moyer, an evening of song with Linda Mironti (she knows how to do this, having recently wowed them at a British “virtual” cabaret), a book reading and talk by Simon Winchester for his new book Land: How the hunger for ownership shaped the modern world, as well as the workshops and lectures that lend themselves to online delivery. (Michelle Arnot is generously offering another of her fascinating crossword puzzle workshops in March.)

We know too that in the past year of so much creativity with virtual events, necessity has indeed brought new and exciting experiences. (Early on in the pandemic, who saw those amazing kids doing “What the World Needs Now” and didn’t break down in tears?)

Because we want to offer the Arts Center community some delightful and compelling programs soon, we will be doing that in the only way safely possible, online.

But for many of us, whether we’re 80 or 18, the magical thrill of live performance, in a beautiful, historic space with fellow and sister human beings, is like nothing else—and one of the things most missed in this last year.

So, we will be engaging an expert to advise on our building (ventilation, upstairs and downstairs, traffic patterns, safe capacity, hand sanitizer stations, maybe contactless tickets) so that when we open, we won’t be guessing with your health or ours. We will be getting the best scientific guidance (not wishes) on conditions for reopening. We will be sending out a survey to see how you, as our audience, feel about what conditions you’d want in place to attend an event at the Arts Center.

So that sometime before 2021 fades into memory, we will have a few chances to clap, and stomp (if appropriate), shout “Bravo” and leap out of our seats. Or just be hushed in rapt attention. Together. In the space where so many have gathered for shared experiences over generations.

Here’s Val Coleman reading a poem he wrote about that very thing, and perhaps it undercuts, a bit, the premise of this post. We can see and hear Val as if we’re there with him.

COMMENTS are open – We’d love to hear any of your own “I was there when” or other especially fond live performance experiences.

 

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