Thursday, April 02
PITTSFIELD — Whatever you do, don't go downtown this week. You'll only anger the clowns.

A pack of protesting clowns, a lonely mime and a bat-wielding gorilla were all in Park Square Wednesday morning, protesting the first Berkshire Fools Festival and trying to get people to avoid this weekend's events.

According to the clowns, Wednesday marked the 30th anniversary of a peace treaty ending the long-fought war between mimes and clowns. And the city's festival — expected to be the largest April Fools' celebration in the Northeast — only mocks their progress.

"It makes light of our struggles with the mimes," one clown declared.

The mime, not surprisingly, declined to comment for this story.

OK — so, really — the event was a ruse perpetrated by people involved with the festival, holding signs, acting goofy and "protesting" as an April Fools' joke to kick off five days of music, theater, activities and art exhibits in downtown Pittsfield.

"People talk about how there's a lot of doom and gloom," said Joe Durwin, who held character in an ape costume and kept his fellow motley crew in line. "People should remember spring is here and things aren't that bad, so come out (to the festival)."

The group of anti-fools garnered a different response than your "typical" protesters: Confused looks, honks from passing cars, smiles from passersby.

Lorrie Swistak, of Adams, works nearby, and said it was good to give people something to smile about during tough times, and the "protest" was certainly more light-hearted than other protesters who demonstrate on Park Square.

"It kind of brightens people's spirits, especially with everything going on," said Swistak.

"I think that's a great idea, that people can go out and protest whatever they want," said Michael Surdyk, a 16-year-old exchange student living in Pittsfield, who joked that he would never see something like that back home in Poland.

But for the pack of protesters who spent an hour in Park Square, they just couldn't understand why people weren't supporting their cause.

"I don't know why people don't take us seriously," said one clown, adorned in a blue afro, neon clothes, giant shoes and an ear-to-ear painted grin. "I don't know why."

  • Today

    "Into the Woods," theater-musical, Taconic High School, 7:30 p.m., $12, or $5 with pass.*

    "The Lynch Bride," theater, First Congregational Church, 7:30 p.m., $9, or free with pass.

  • Friday

    "Spring Folly," costume ball, St. Joe's High School gym, 8 p.m. to midnight, $10, or free with pass.

    "Into the Woods," theater-musical, Taconic High School, 7:30 p.m., $12, or $5 with pass.

    Debt Free Players, improv comedy, Mission Bar & Tapas, 8 p.m.

  • Saturday

    "The Musical Hat," theater-family, Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 p.m., free.

    Playwright Mentoring Project, performance, Barrington Stage stage 2, 2 p.m., free.

    "Clown Games," activity/performance for all ages, Pittsfield Common, 2 to 5 p.m., free.

    "Bunker Mentaility," theater, Lichtenstein Center, 3 p.m., $5, or free with pass.

    "The Noble Fool," concert, Berkshire Museum, 3 p.m., $12, or free with pass.

    "The Lynch Bride," theater, First Congregational Church, 4 and 7:30 p.m., $9, or free with pass.

    Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe, dinner/performance, Dottie's Coffee Lounge, 7 p.m., $45, or $40 with pass.

    "Into the Woods," theater-musical, Taconic High School, 7:30 p.m., $12, or free with pass.

    "Explicit Comedy," Tom Scott, Micro Theater, 8 p.m., $5, or free with pass.

  • Sunday

    "Fools Errands," scavenger hunt for all ages, Dottie's Coffee Lounge, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., free.

    "Coulrophobia & Evil Clowns," lecture, Storefront Artists Project, 1 p.m.

    "The Lynch Bride," theater, First Congregational Church, 2 p.m., $9, or free with pass.

    "Bunker Mentality," theater, Lichtenstein Center, 3 p.m., $5, or free with pass.

    "The Noble Fool," concert, Berkshire Museum, 4 p.m., $12, or free with pass.

    Hawk & A Hacksaw, band, the Copperworks, 7:30 p.m., $10, or free with pass.

  • Ongoing exhibits

    "Greasepaint Tears," exhibit, Berkshire Museum, today through Sunday, April 5, free with pass.

    "Man of the Future," exhibit, Michael Hitchcock, Zeitgeist Gallery, today through Sunday, April 5.

    "Wayne's World," exhibit, Wayne Duffy, Ferrin Gallery, through May 1, free.

    * Passes are $25 for adults, $10 for children under 12. Passes available at several downtown locations.