Arts & Culture: Theater in Northampton, music at Amherst College, and more

  • “The Half-Life of Marie Curie,” a drama about two early 20th century female scientists, will be staged at the Northampton Center for the Arts Nov. 3-6. Image from Northampton Center for the Arts website

  • Imani Winds will be joined by pianist Cory Smythe at Buckley Recital Hall at Amherst College on Oct. 22. CONTRIBUTED/AMHERST COLLEGE

  • The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum reopens to the public with the exhibit “THE RAREST BLACK WOMAN ON THE PLANET EARTH.” Image from Mount Holyoke College Art Museum website

  • The Easthmapton Film Festival returns with screenings Oct. 30 and Nov. 11. Courtesy Easthmapton Film Festival/Gazette file photo

Monday, October 24, 2022
Music at Amherst College

AMHERST — Chamber, classical and choral music are all on tap at Amherst College in the next week as a Grammy-nominated wind ensemble comes to campus and the school presents its annual Homecoming concerts, all at Buckley Recital Hall.

On Oct. 22 at 8 p.m., the five-member Imani Winds — flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and French Horn — will play at Buckley Hall, where they’ll be joined by pianist Cory Smythe for a performance of “Revolutionary aka The Civil Rights Project.” This presentation includes a number of pieces, including a new interpretation of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” dedicated to exploring racial justice and the legacy of slavery.

Imani Winds, twice nominated for a Grammy award, plays traditional chamber music but is also committed to expanding the wind quintet repertoire by commissioning new music that reflects important historical and current events.

On Oct. 29 at 12 p.m., the Amherst College Glee Club will perform in concert with the Williams College Concert Choir. Then at 8 p.m., the Amherst Symphony Orchestra presents “Maestro of the Movies,” a concert of music by composer John Williams, including excerpts from the his scores for “Amistad,” “E.T.,” “Jurassic Park,” “Schindler’s List”and other movies.

The Oct. 29 concerts are free. Tickets for the Oct. 22 concert are $12-28 and can be purchased at amherst.universitytickets.com. A KN95 mask must be worn at all face-to-face service locations including Will Call, Box Office and Buckley entry.


Female chemistry

NORTHAMPTON — Marie Curie, the French-Polish scientist of the early 20th century, famously became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize (in 1904, a shared award in physics), and she won a second one one her own in 1911 in chemistry.

But in 1911, it was also discovered that the widowed Curie was having an affair with a married man, and the French press launched a full-scale attack on her morals, threatening her career. When an angry mob showed up outside her Paris home, Curie found refuge in the seaside house of her friend Hertha Ayrton, a British engineer, physicist and mathematician.

Laura Gunderson’s 2019 play “The Half-Life of Marie Curie” explores the relationship between the women as they discuss their lives, loves, children, and the barriers they face as female scientists. A new version of the play, by Spindrift Theatre, now comes to the Northampton Center for the Arts at 33 Hawley Street Nov. 3-6.

Directed by Robert Freedman, the production features Sarah Howard Parker as Marie Curie and Louise Krieger as Hertha Ayrton. Freedman notes that Gunderson, who lives in California, was recognized a few years ago as America’s most produced living playwright.

“The Half-Life of Marie Curie” takes place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3-5 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 6. Tickets range from $20.57 to $22.69 and can be purchased by visiting nohoarts.org/events.

The Notorious RBG comes alive at Jones Library

AMHERST — The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in the form of actress and historical interpreter Sheryl Faye, will be recalled at the Jones Library on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in a free performance.

Faye’s presentation, “I Dissent,” will examine Ginsburg’s historic role as the second woman, and the first Jewish woman, to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Serving from 1993 until her death in 2020, Ginsburg was also a lawyer, professor of law, and lower-court judge who was, as program notes put it, “a leading voice for gender equality, women’s interests, and civil rights and liberties.”

“She was not afraid to dissent, disapprove, and disagree with conditions of unfairness and inequality. This show is the inspiring story of how she changed her life — and ours.”

Faye offers a number of other one-woman shows in which she represents historical U.S. figures including Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, Sally Ride and Amelia Earhart. Her Amherst presentation is part of the “Getting to Know …” series and is made possible by the Friends of the Jones Libraries. Please contact Janet Ryan at (413) 259-3223 for additional information.


Mount Holyoke College Art Museum reopens for all

SOUTH HADLEY — After being closed to the public since March 2020, the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is now featuring “The Rarest Black Woman On The Planet Earth,” an exhibit by artist, activist, and poet venessa german [she does not capitalize her names] that runs through May 23, 2023.

The exhibit features video and sculpture created by german after she examined the collection at college’s Joseph Allen Skinner Museum, which is made up of over 7,000 curious items from the late 19th and early 20th centuries by founder Joseph Skinner, a local silk magnate and philanthropist, left the museum to the college in 1946.

According to program notes, german’s exhibit began with the question “How do we decolonize a thing, a museum, a collection?” Her answer was to touch every object in the Skinner collection and as such “reanimate” and “retell” those objects through a new show that “navigates ancestral memory and the contemporary landscapes of race, politics and the pandemic.”

The exhibition commemorates the75th anniversary of the 1946 Skinner bequest to Mount Holyoke College. The exhibition is made possible by the Susan B. Weatherbie Exhibition Fund and the Leon Levy Foundation. The museum is free and open to the public.


Film Festival returns to Easthampton

EASTHAMPTON — The Easthampton Film Festival (EFF), which debuted this past spring, is back for additional screenings, just in time for Halloween.

On Oct. 30 at New City Brewery, EFF presents “Halloween Nightmare Shorts,” four brief unrated horror movies by local filmmakers that are “scary, bloody, and upsetting,” according to program notes. “Not recommended for those under 16 years, or for those who don’t love the genre!”

In “Last Train,” for instance, a late-night passenger “has a horrifying encounter on the platform,” according to program notes.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the films begin screening at 7 p.m., with a panel discussion with filmmakers to follow. Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Nov. 11, EFF continues at Easthampton Media with a reshowing of some audience favorites from the May festival, including “Master Brewer” and “Keeping Time.” Doors open at 7:30 p.m., the films begin at 8 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with filmmakers. Tickers are available at filmfreeway.com/EasthamptonFilmFestival/tickets.

— Compiled by Steve Pfarrer