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Schooled in Passion: Packer's "Women of Will" at Shake & Co.
By: By Nichole Dupont On: 11:38PM / Tuesday June 14, 2011
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Packer and Gore make sparks and quips during "Women of Will"

LENOX, Mass. - I'll be the first to admit it, I'm a feminist. Apparently, because this is a loaded word, saying one is a feminist could be a career-ender, unless you're Tina Packer. When it comes to William and his "written" ladies, Packer, who is one of the founding artistic directors of Shakespeare and Company, takes no prisoners. Not even Joan of Arc can escape the astute, passionate and almost professorial obersvations of a woman who, when it comes to the bard, clearly knows and loves her stuff.

Now through July 10 at the Bernstein Theatre, Shakespeare and Company is presenting "Women of Will, The Complete Journey: Parts I-V." The performances, for lack of a better, more inclusive term, represent a culmination of Packer's years of piecing together the lives, actions and projections of the female characters in Shakespeare's plays, beginning with his early comedies and ending with "Henry VIII." Each part is two hours long (roughly) and carries a theme with it--Part 1: The Warrior Women, From Violence to Negotiation, Part II: The Sexual Merges with the Spiritual: New Knowledge, Part III: Living Underground, or Dying to Tell the Truth, Part IV: Chaos is Come Again, the Lion Eats the Wolf and Part V: The Maiden Phoenix: The Daughter Redeems the Father.

Recently, I attended the opening of "The Warrior Women," in which Packer and her equally charming sidekick, and I daresay partner in crime, Nigel Gore, took the audience on a roller-coaster ride of passion, violence, and, of course, women.
  
"Warrior Women" opened with a scene from "The Taming of the Shrew," played two ways. The first rendition presents Katherine (the shrew) as a willful woman who is just barely, but violently subdued by her controlling husband, Petruchio. Gore, with his hands around Packer's neck, is a terrifying presence as he commands his "wife" to say that the sun is the moon and the moon is the sun in order to gain her complete obedience, which is only won by her fear and resignation to his unrelenting abuse. In that same scene, Packer changes her "mood" and the mood of Katherine to display a woman gone mad from sleeplessness and starvation, tactics which Petruchio used to "tame" his headstrong wife. She delivers the same monologue as in the previous scene, but now, it is clear, that the transformation is complete and that Katherine, her voice flip-flopping between low moans and high coquettish assents, has been utterly broken and will be a madwoman until her death. Yet, despite this broken insanity, Gore as Petruchio does emit a certain fear at this revelation. This fear, which is also felt by the audience, is vastly different from his bulldoggish, arrogant portrayal in the first rendition of the scene. 
  
And so it went from scene to scene. I often found myself gripping my chair inadvertantly as Packer (who was easily able to transition from a 16-year-old maid to a religious fanatic to a vengeful mother) and Gore tested the boundaries of Shakespeare's words and women. These rivoting scenes were interjected with academic commentary (note, I did not say dry commentary, this is Tina Packer we are talking about) as well as the playful banter between the two performers, a relationship that clearly has emerged from several decades of friendship and craft (and bawdiness, of course). The instability of Shakespeare's women as he presented them, be it in a comedy, a tragedy, or even a historical, is blatantly obvious. However, it takes an expert mind like Packer's to unravel the nuances of negotiation, sexuality and violence in the lives of the "Warrior Women," and this is only Part I...



Tags: Women of Will      
Could New Neighbors Be Wall Street Journal Heirs?
By: Staff Reports On: 04:26PM / Wednesday February 02, 2011
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NEW MARLBOROUGH, Mass — Realtor Lance Vermeulen refused to name who purchased nearly 300 acres of land on Canaan Southfield Road for $4.3 million but iBerkshires has a guess.

Your new neighbors may be Amy Selinger and Mark Elefante – a young couple with ties to the former Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones and Co. It could also be one of the Bancrofts themselves – who inherited the Wall Street Journal and made $1.2 billion on its 2007 sale.

Here's how we came up with that.

The property listed at 2128 Canaan Southfield Road was sold to the holding company Vergelegen LLC, according to state land records. The Secretary of State's corporation database shows the agent of the holding company to be Elefante. The holding company's address is the same as the law firm Hemenway and Barnes, which is also noted in the land transfer paperwork.

An attorney with Hemenway and Barnes acted as lead trustee for the sale of Dow Jones and Co. to News Corp. – Rupert Murdoch's empire – in 2007. And that attorney's name..... drumroll please.... Michael Elefante. Michael Elefante is also authorized to execute documents through Vergelegen LLC. 

Michael Elefante joined Hemenway and Barnes in 1970 and served as a director of Dow Jones & Co. – serving with the Bancrofts. Michael was the lead trustee for the Dow Jones Co. His son Mark Elefante joined the law firm later.

But we are not done yet. There are some other factors that lead us to bet on him.

Mark Elefante studied at Williams College and he married Selinger in 2009. Williams students are known to return to the area.

They were both 29 at the time and Vermeulen said that it was a young couple looking for a second home who purchased the property.

Next we have the land itself. The land has three buildings: a 2,100-square-foot farmhouse and two smaller 1,000-square-foot dwellings. Pretty good land for farming and horse-breeding, we would think. With ties to the Bancroft family, we could suspect the Elefantes run in similar circles and Wikipedia says the Bancrofts enjoy farming and horse-breeding.

We do wonder if maybe Mark Elefante is using his holding company to conceal the name for a client. He does specialize in land acquisition.

The Bancrofts are notoriously reclusive from media coverage and the town does not see the spotlight often.

Anybody have the inside scoop or other guesses?



Tags: Wall Street Journal, New Marlborough, Land      
Pittsfield Through the Lens
By: Nichole Dupont On: 01:16PM / Saturday January 15, 2011
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'Lichtenstein Clouds' by Douglass Truth

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — "Celebrating Pittsfield," a photography show including the works of nearly two dozen local artists, opened Friday night at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.

The photographs represented the many people, places, events and landscapes which come together to make up what is, and has been for the last 250 years, the city of Pittsfield.

The juried contemporary show kicks off the city's yearlong birthday celebration — thus the name.

While the title of the show is perfectly adequate, I would venture to say a subtitle or postscript should be added: "Pittsfield: One City, Many Lenses." Not only is the show representative of the many photographic talents we have hidden in our community, but it also illuminates the diversity of landscape, people and events that, combined, have come to call themselves Pittsfield.

One of the most obvious (yet silent) points made through viewing the photographs is that Pittsfield is urban and rural, stark and beautiful. A photograph of Onota Lake covered by autumn mist sits in stark contrast next to its neighbor, a shot of a young man sleeping on a couch that is sitting on the sidewalk; a heavily graffitied wall behind him acts as the backdrop. The symmetrical lines of trees that create architectural structure within a framed shot of the trees lining North Street are juxtaposed with the brightly painted faces of children sitting curbside during a Third Thursday celebration.

The opening reception of the 'Celebrating Pittsfield' photography show drew a large crowd.

Is this Pittsfield? Or is it Alaska? Paris? Rio?

The city's true (and vibrant colors) shine through in these photographs. Even a haphazard stack of red restaurant chairs in the middle of the street somehow gives meaning to everyday life in an everyday city. Suddenly, because of a great eye, commonalities like street lights and a baseball game and a barber shop are cause for pride. This IS who we are. Clearly these photographers take pride in that.

"Celebrating Pittsfield" runs through Feb. 26. For more information call 413-499-9348 or visit www.culturalpittsfield.com.
 

 



Tags: Pittsfield, photography, reception      
The Bearded Anniversary
By: Nichole Dupont On: 02:42PM / Monday January 10, 2011
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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The town is looking at more than just parades, festivals and car shows for its 250th anniversary celebration, which officially kicked off last month. 

It's sponsoring a good old-fashioned Beard Growing Contest in honor of entertainment of times past. Any "gentleman wanting to grow a beard" is encouraged to go to the Snap Shop on Railroad Street and have his picture taken. This, of course, will be the "before" photo. The judging for the contest will take place on July 10 at Sim’s Barber Shop on Main Street.

Unlike the application for queen and court, which is also part of the 250th celebration, the beard-growing competition does not require a written essay, a statement of good academic standing or proof of community service. Instead, the categories include Longest, Bushiest, Most Naturally Colorful and Most Creative.

One can only imagine … I guess you just make your own fun out here in rural Massachusetts.

I know which category I will be sure to photograph.

For you bushy, burly Berkshire men, the last day for pictures and applications is Tuesday. Stop in to the Snap Shop (bring your application with you, you can download it from the GB 250 website) and have your picture taken.

For those of you who will most likely be absolutely sick of your new pelt by summertime, fear not, the folks at Sim’s will be offering shaves right after the judging. For more information call 413-528-4725.

May the best beard win.



Tags: beard, contest      
A Sea of Taste in Otis
By: By Nichole Dupont On: 11:52PM / Saturday January 08, 2011
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Laurie Sawin has been serving up fresh seafood in Otis for nearly 25 years.

OTIS, Mass. – As a general rule, I never, ever, ever order seafood if I’m not sitting right on the pier/dock watching the gulls snatch up dinner. In fact, I have a dark fear of any seafood that can be found “inland.” And yet, as the snow flies and my mind turns desperately to summer and sunshine and the promise of Vitamin D, I found myself craving something, anything, with a bit of sand and salt and brine.

Driving up and down the harrowing, unplowed back roads of creation, watching giant dollops of snow slip heavily off of branches, I wondered if this morning adventure was a good idea. The jeep slipped and slid and fishtailed. But, finally, I arrived at my destination on route 8; The Other Brother Darryl’s.

I know what you’re thinking. But, it’s not what you think. This modest little shop just beyond the center of town (notice Otis is right!) is chock full of sophisticated culinary treasures, including, of course, fresh seafood. The coolers are lined with sweet scallops, oysters, rock crab meat, roe, crawfish tails, lobster, you name it. Alongside the coolers are the “accompaniments” to any respectable seafood dinner; specialty pastas and grains (among them quinoa, polenta and orzo), a variety of fine import oils (including olive and hazelnut) and chocolates of all persuasions.

For nearly 25 years, Laurie and Darryl Sawin have elbow deep in seafood, providing fresh catch to area restaurants as well as foodie places as far as Pine Plains and Hudson. According to Laurie they are a “stand-alone fish market” in a literal sea of local beef, lamb and pork. This lone-wolf status also comes with some acclaim, especially given The Other Brother Darryl’s added role as a catering business and take-out venue.

Other Brother Darryl's also offers an impressive array of grains and pastas.



“We have people who come here from the city take our stuff back with them,” Sawin said. “It’s very flattering. It’s because our prices are fair and we take pride in what we’re selling. We also get a lot of people who are travelling for work; they stop here on the way up and on the way back and they’ve been doing it for years.”

Without a doubt, Sawin will see the same folks for the next 25 years. Clearly, even out in the “borderlands” of the Berkshires they’ve got a good thing going.

After indulging in some delicious caramel chocolates and debating the purchase of several hundred pounds of oysters, I found what I had originally come for; chowder. Good old-fashioned clam chowder, straight up with potatoes, sandy bits of clam and the scent of the ocean breeze.
Of course, they had it. I could barely wait to get home and chow(der) down.

It was an unforgettable bowl of nostalgia; a classic, creamy mixture of salt, cream, clams, pepper, potatoes and my signature hunk of rosemary bread settled in the middle for good measure.

Delicious and a little bit sad when my spoon clinked against the bowl.
 

The Other Brother Darryl’s is located on Rte 8 in Otis. For more info visit their website or call 1-800-6FLOPIN. 
 



Tags: other, brother, darryl's      
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