Berkshire Theatre Group hosts festival for families


PITTSFIELD >> With little to no snow in sight and five days off from school looming in the near future, what's a parent to do?

Organizers of Berkshire Theatre Group's new Transformer Children's Festival hope to help you fill those vacation days with live theater — both educational and fun — and a good old-fashioned dance party, pre-nap time, of course, in the hopes of helping your little dancers drift off more easily.

"We have consistently done well with family programming during the Presidents Day school vacation and this is an attempt to develop that success even further," said Simon Shaw, BTG programmer, in an email while in Montreal, Canada, on business. "Our goal, as ever, is to provide high-quality arts experiences for our audiences and I wanted to bring some international work to the Berkshires."

As part of the 10X10 Upstreet Arts Festival, the children's festival will host three different performances during the week of Feb. 15 to 20, including "Moby Dick," from Germany's award-winning Theater Triebwerk.

"Obviously, Theater Triebwerk's 'Moby Dick' resonates with our community and is an example of European theater for young audiences at its finest," Shaw said of the performance, which will take place at the Colonial Theatre on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Three different actors will use their bodies, and ever-switching hats, to tell the story of Ishmael's voyage across the seven seas in search of the legendary white whale. A variety of musical instruments will be used to create everything from the sound of creaking oars to the moaning of the hull.

For baseball lovers, audiences can learn the rules of the game and the cultural significance of the sport in Pittsfield in "Play Ball! Reflections on the Origins of Baseball," which will be performed at the Berkshire Museum at 11 a.m. every day of the vacation week.

"It's a great interactive and accessible history lesson that people will leave saying, 'Wow, that was really entertaining, but educational at the same time," said Travis Daly, who is directing the play, which was written by E. Gray Simons III specifically for BTG. "It's a history lessons with the fun conflict that all plays have to have."

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Mervin the mouse will come to life for little audience members when neon creatures created with electroluminescent artistry, a type of puppetry set to a black backdrop pioneered by the Lightwire Theatre, take the Colonial stage.

"I am sure the audience will love this show," Shaw said of "Moon Mouse." Lightwire Theatre has visited the Colonial twice before, according to Shaw, with great success.

Festival organizers hope this is the start of more vacation fun to come in future years, Shaw said.

"I hope [families] will have a good time and want to come back for more of our family offerings," he said.

If you go ...

Berkshire Theatre Group's Transformer Children's Festival

• Kids Dance Party, 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, at The Garage. For ages 0-5, and their parents. Tickets $10.

• BTG PLAYS! on Tour presents "Play Ball! Reflections on the Origins of Baseball," 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, Feb. 15-20, at the Berkshire Museum. Tickets are $15/$8 kids; museum members $5 adults/$3 kids. Children 3 and under free.

• Lightwire Theatre's "Moon Mouse," 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at The Colonial Theatre. For ages 5-10. Tickets $15.

• "Moby Dick," 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at The Colonial Theatre. For ages 10 and up. Tickets $15.

For tickets or for more information, call 413-997-4444 or visit


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