PITTSFIELD -- If Hilary Somers Deely and Barbara Sims have learned anything since their first Made in the Berkshires in 2011, it is that less is more.
So, for their third go-round, they have put together a weekend celebration of homegrown Berkshires arts that is streamlined, more user friendly and more varied.
Made in the Berkshires -- which comprises music, dance, theater, film, spoken word and visual arts created and performed by Berkshire artisans -- begins with a big gala event at Berkshire Theatre Group's Colonial Theatre tonight at 7:30, hosted by honorary chairs Gov. Deval L. Patrick and first lady Diane B. Patrick.
The festival continues through Sunday with performances, day and evening, at the Colonial, the Colonial's lobby venue, The Garage, and at BTG's Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge.
Highlighting tonight's gala are the dance company Berkshire Pulse; writer Kevin O'Hara; choreographer Dawn Lane and the CATA (Community Access to the Arts) dance group, The Moving Company; a new musical composition, "Cherry Cottage: Five Variants for Piano" by Gerard McBurney, complemented by images by David Simonds and a series of related readings; a poem, "Dragon Breath," by CD Nelson with accompanying images by Gregory Crewdson; and films by Sam Handel and Patrick Toole.
A post-performance Taste of the Berkshires reception in the lobby will feature Berkshires-grown foods and drink.
There also will be an art exhibit in the lobby area curated by Suky Workman, which will be up through the weekend.
Short stories and plays will be performed in the Unicorn Theatre Saturday afternoon from 1 to 3, followed, after a break, at 4 by a new full-length play by Chris Newbound and at 7 with "Mary and Edith: Musings by Women a Century Apart." And you'll be out in time to make it back to the Colonial's Garage for blues vocalist Wanda Huston and her band.
Made in the Berkshires wraps up Sunday with a program of short films, beginning at 5 p.m., at the Colonial, followed at 7, after a break, by an hour-long program of dance featuring Berkshire Dance Theatre, Berkshire Pulse, and The Moving Company, and at 8 by an hour of improvisational music by Vikki True, Charlie Tokarz and friends.
The first Made in the Berkshires was spread over two weekends. Last year's
was condensed into one but the schedule was so packed that people had no time to eat,
Deely and Sims acknowledged during a late afternoon interview in the living room of Deely's home in Stockbridge.
"We realized we needed longer breaks between program blocks," Sims said.
They've also learned what programs work best and when. Last year's Sunday dance block, for example, was enormously popular, so they're devoting Sunday night to dance again this year and expanded the program.
The opening gala is designed, Sims says, "to offer a little bit of everything to whet people's appetite for the weekend."
The Saturday afternoon short stories / short plays slot at the Unicorn has developed as a kind of literary salon, Sims says.
Deely and Sims put out the word for Made in the Berkshires entries in March. They whittled the submissions down through an extensive vetting process -- more so than the preceding festivals.
"We had short story writers over twice to talk to them about their material and how they feel it should be presented," Sims said.
In addition, Deely and Sims read material -- particularly short stories and poems -- out loud to each other. They shared material with their respective husbands and/or close, trusted friends or colleagues for further insight.
There have been times, they acknowledge, when they've had sharp disagreement over choice of material but, Sims says, "we're very good at compromise."
"We each bring different strengths to the table," Deely said. "We love to discuss things."
"We each have different strengths," Sims said. "If we were exactly alike, it would be dull."
SCHEDULE | Made in the Berkshires
Once the final choices have been made, Deely and Sims create the programming blocks and the list is discussed with Kate Maguire, CEO and artistic director of Berkshire Theatre Group, the festival's producer.
The artists are not paid for participating in Made in the Berkshires. The $15 ticket price is designed to make Made in the Berkshires affordable.
Sims and Deely are thinking of ways of expanding the festival to include more venues. They want more young people to participate; more spoken word artists. They are exploring innovative marketing opportunities with various Berkshires businesses.
"We want to open these arts to everyone," Deely says.
"We are into ‘what do you have to offer?' " Sims said. "(We) consider (ourselves) curator(s). We want to show every artist to the best of our ability."