Thursday November 8, 2012

Community Access to the Arts

Taylor Mali -- one of the most acclaimed Slam poets in the country and a familiar figure to Berkshire County residents -- will perform Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Crissey Farm in Great Barrington, and share some of the works that have made him a star of HBO's "Def Poetry Jam" and four-time National Poetry Slam champion.

His appearance will help to kick off a series of special events hosted by Community Access to the Arts, honoring C.A.T.A.'s 20th year of nurturing and celebrating the creativity of people with disabilities through a shared experience of the visual and performing arts.

More than 1,000 C.A.T.A. workshops serve some 600 people through out the Berkshire area each year.

Mali will also lead a workshop with C.A.T.A. creative writing faculty and C.A.T.A.'s writers, and in the evening performance he will read poems from the workshop.

Mali's many performances, books and recordings have won him admiration from poetry fans and teachers far and wide. He often draws on his background as a former middle school teacher in his work, and his latest book of essays, "What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World," expands on his hugely popular poems espousing the joys of learning and the essential role teachers play in helping develop and influence young minds and lives.

A reception will follow the reading, and a donation of $10 is suggested. Information: www.communityaccess
tothearts.org, (413) 528-5485.

Rudolf Steiner School

Halloween is barely over, and the trappings of Christmas are already filling the stores. Families wishing to lessen the commercial nature of the holiday season can start their shopping in a more peaceful and traditional manner with a visit to the Holiday Handcraft Fair on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Rudolf Steiner School in Great Barrington.

Now in its 40th year, the fair is an occasion for the school community to offer a glimpse into a century-old philosophy and way of life that has made Waldorf schools an enduring educational force with more than 1,000 institutions worldwide. The fair focuses on wholesome gifts lovingly made by hand from natural materials, such as the Community Quilt made from squares knitted by school families.

Along with shopping ideas, there will be plenty of crafts and fun activities to delight all ages. Dress up in costumes and pose for a picture in the photo booth, then take a breezy hay ride round the capacious campus.

The traditional puppet show, typically a magical, whimsical story, moves at a gentle pace to appeal to young audiences. Children can also visit the Little People's room to select special small gifts made just for them to give to friends and family, while older kids can try their hand at real wax candle dipping, twisting a custom-colored jump rope, and dousing plucky (and chilly!) victims in the dunking booth.

The cafe; will serve lunches, warming drinks and desserts. Admission and parking are free. Information: www.gbrss.org, (413) 528-4015.

Berkshire Museum

In honor of Native American Her itage Month, and as a companion to the exhibit "Rethink! American Indian Art," the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield will present the Chief Konkapot Festival of Native Amer ican Culture and History on Saturday and Sunday.

Four separate performances will bring in dance, storytelling and music. On Saturday at 1 p.m., Jerry Thun dercloud McDonald will share the rich cultural heritage of the Mohawk, along with historical background of American Indian influence on the United States Constitution.

Award-winning flutist and recording artist Joseph FireCrow will perform the haunting refrains of flute music at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

On Sunday, poet and author Larry Spotted Crow Mann, accompanied by the Quabbin Lake Singers, will offer a program of Nipmuck stories, songs and drum at 1 p.m., followed by a presentation on contemporary powwow culture, dance and regalia by Sandy Rhodes at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $15 adults and $8 children for each afternoon performance (includes museum admission) and $12 for Saturday evening. Com bination tickets include both Sunday performances and cost $20 adults, $11 children. Information: www.berkshire
museum.org, (413) 443-7171.