Pittsfield Hosts the First Out in the Berkshires Weekend October 10-12
Openly LGBT Events Come Out of the Closet
By: Larry Murray - Oct 02, 2009
The Berkshires have always been a desirable home for creative people, and where artists thrive, so do members of the LGBT community. Of course, interest in the arts is a bit of a stereotype, you will also find LGBT's galore in health care, retail, real estate, legal and social services. A minority wherever they go, they have always found a safe haven in the Berkshires, and lived quietly among us. They go to work, pay taxes, mow lawns, hike our hills, shop in our stores.
But they are also mostly invisible, and until now, no effort has been made to reach out to this group. In difficult economic times, the Berkshires could benefit from more visibility in the LGBT community. Attracting additional residents and visitors is key to develop the Berkshire economy.
In Berkshires, so far at least, the word gay has almost never appeared on any promotional materials. Big mistake. If you make it clear that gays, lesbians, trans and bi people are welcome in the Berkshries, they may not just visit, but locate here. In a rough economic climate, that would be good news.
So, this Columbus Day weekend, October 10 through 12, in Pittsfield, Berkshire County's largest city plays host to the first "Out in the Berkshires" Weekend, featuring a performance by the Boston Gay Men's Chorus, a staged reading of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later by Barrington Stage Company, and Quite Queer, a live music and dance party.
Also of interest to the gay community is the opening of The Fantasticks a wonderful musical about the nature of love, and visually stunning Pilobolus which appears on the stage of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington.
These gay-friendly performances coincide with the launch of a new collaborative marketing project targeted to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) community in Berkshire County and beyond, OutintheBerkshires.com. The weekend also coincides with National Coming Out Day, on Sunday, October 11.
Out in the Berkshires kicks off with the first Berkshire County performance by the Boston Gay Men's Chorus at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Pittsfield on Saturday, October 10, at 3:30 pm. The Boston Gay Men's Chorus, one of New England's largest and most successful community-based choruses, will perform highlights from its rousing hit show, Boys Just Wanna Have Fun: Totally 80s.
Proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Gay/Straight Alliances at Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School. The Chorus is celebrated for its outstanding musicianship, creative programming and groundbreaking community outreach.
Advance ticket prices are $5 for students and $10 for adults, with a 10% discount for groups of 10 or more. Tickets will be sold at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Taconic High School, Pittsfield High School, and St. Stephen's Parish or will be available for $15 at the door.
There are no gay bars or dance clubs in the Berkshires for young gays to meet. So on Saturday night, October 10, the Elk's Club at 27 Union St. comes alive with the live-music and DJ dance-party Quite Queer, the first-ever of its kind in Pittsfield.
This promises to be a big deal. Music starts at 6pm and features co-headlining acts MKNG FRNDZ, a self-described "boy/girl revolution" that produce brilliant, blown-out, synth-pop, and Jen Urban and the Box from New York City, whose album is described as everything from "raunchy garage-laced electroclash, to anthemic dance-pop, to sincere confessional song form."
The openers for the event are The G-Spots, an all-girl rock group from Worcester, and unique new-age disco artist Max Steele and the Party Ice from Brooklyn. The concert will be followed by a dance-party that will continue until 1am.
This is an 18+ event with a full cash-bar for 21+, and tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door and can be purchased at Rebel Sound Records, The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, and Dottie's Coffee Lounge. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts.
Then, on Columbus Day, Monday, October 12, Barrington Stage Company presents The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later (An Epilogue), a staged reading of the compelling and groundbreaking epilogue to the highly acclaimed play that debuted in 2000.
Read our advance preview here.
The epilogue focuses on the long-term effect of the murder of Matthew Shepard on the town of Laramie. It explores how the town has changed and how the murder continues to reverberate in the community. The staged reading will be performed in more than 100 other theaters across the country on the same day. The cast for the Barrington Stage production has just been announced and contains some impressive talent. It includes:
Jeremy Bobb from BSC's Sleuth, Emily Taplin Boyd and Kevin Carolan from BSC's A Streetcar Named Desire,â€¨ Thom Christopher from BSC's Trumbo and A Picasso,and â€¨Tandy Cronyn from BSC's Private Lives and Jerome Spratling from BSC's To Kill A Mockingbird,â€¨ and Peggy Pharr Wilson from BSC's To Kill A Mockingbird and Carousel.
Also â€¨Mark H. Dold from BSC's Freud's Last Session,â€¨ Christopher Innvar and â€¨Jeff Kent from BSC's A Streetcar Named Desire,â€¨ â€¨ Debra Jo Rupp from TV's "That 70's Show" and BSC's To Kill A Mockingbird.
Among the cast from other parts of the community are Seth Rogovoy from Berkshire Living Magazine, Enrico Spada, Marketing & Web Manager, Shakespeare & Company,â€¨ Lisken van Pelt Dus, Poet in the Schools/Black Belt,â€¨ Ryan Weightman andâ€¨ Megan Whilden from the Office of Cultural Development, Pittsfield.
Performances will take place at 3pm and 7pm on the Main Stage and tickets are $15 for adults and $10 students.
To help raise awareness in the community and fight intolerance and prejudice, a portion of the proceeds will go to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which works to share Matthew's dream of replacing the hate in the world with understanding, compassion, and acceptance.
Sponsorships between $25 and $99 receive a listing in the show playbill and sponsorships of more than $100 receive listing in our playbill as a "Special Benefactor", two tickets to the performance, and an invitation for two to a post-show party at Jae's Spice directly following the 7pm performance. Visit www.barringtonstageco.org for information and tickets.
The debut of Out in the Berkshires weekend is part of a collaborative marketing project to reach the LGBT community in Berkshire County and beyond, both visitors and residents. It is a new resource for art, music, nightlife, and commerce for the LGBT community in the Berkshires. For more information you can visit outintheberkshires.com or write email@example.com.
Other online sites for the LGBT community include the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition www.berkshirestonewall.org/ and my own blog, gayberkshires.blogspot.com/.