Friday September 7, 2012

NORTH ADAMS -- Music lovers of all stripes from bluegrass to folk to contemporary to jazz, Minecraft aficionados, theatergoers, comedy nerds, and contemporary dance fans can all find something appealing to their interests this fall at Mass MoCA.

And in the galleries visitors will find the new Xu Bing installation in the football field-sized Building 5 gallery which opens Dec. 8.

For music there’s FreshGrass Festival, Laura Marling, Loser’s Lounge, Moodswing Orchestra, and Alsarah & the Nubatones.

For Minecraft, a game about placing blocks to build anything your imagination will lead you to build, there’s Jerry Gretzinger’s map, a massive installation composed of squares, one of which is chosen at random and reworked every day based on cards drawn from a special deck.

For theatergoers there are presentations by Sundance Lab Theater Institute and Half Straddle Theater with PS 121; for comedy nerds there’s Nerd Nite, and finally contemporary dance fans will love Emily Johnson.

The season starts with a twang as FreshGrass Festival returns for the second year with headliners David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, Tony Rice, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Trampled by Turtles on Sept. 21 through 23. Filled with traditionalists and trailblazers, this festival features a group of performers who are reaching back to the past and looking to the future.

October’s highlight is the spectacular map displayed in the Hunter Center, a half-century project of imagination by Jerry Gretzinger which started in 1963 with a doodle of an imaginary town. Today the map comprises over 2,600 hand-drawn panels covering 2,000 square feet. Gretzinger will set up his studio Oct. 5 through 14 in the Hunter Center. The map will be displayed for the first time ever in its entirety during the production of a new documentary film about Gretzinger by Greg Whitmore.

At the end of the month, on Oct. 26, English folksinger Laura Marling takes the Hun ter Center stage for a solo show.

Other October music highlights includes Bandana Splits on Oct. 6 and Loser’s Lounge with a Muppet Music Extravaganza on Oct. 20.

Mass MoCA will present comedy with Nerd Nite on Oct. 13, an event described as "like the Discovery Channel -- with beer."

November events include music in Club B-10 with Ben Perowsky’s Moodswing Orches tra on Nov.3 and Alsarah & the Nubatones on Nov. 10; dance with Williams College’s student dance troupe performing LeWitticisms in the galleries on Nov. 1, and Emily Johnson offering a work-in-development showing of her newest work on Nov. 16.

On Dec. 8, Mass MoCA opens an installation by Chi nese sensation Xu Bing in the oversized Building 5 Gallery. The centerpieces of his newest work, Phoenix Project, are two monumental (90+ foot long) birds fabricated entirely from materials harvested from construction sites in urban China.

Two theater showings round out the month: Sundance Theatre Institute’s staged reading of Tim Crouch’s "My Arm" on Dec. 1, and, on Dec. 15, a work-in-development showing of "Seagull (Thinking of you)," presented by Half Straddle and PS 122, which works with, against, and beneath Chekhov’s "The Seagull" and includes a Rus sian folk-metal-influenced score.