County Fare: Karen Allen feeling drawn to city, stage
As Karen Allen, the film star who settled into Berkshires full-time a decade ago to give her son, Nicholas, a stable home life, told The New York Times on Monday: "I just have a feeling that a tidal shift is taking place."
Her Karen Allen Fiber Arts is a well-known textile company in downtown Great Barrington, but the actress, who had scaled back her acting career, is opening Thursday in a one-act play, "A Summer Day," at the off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theater in Manhattan. The drama by Jon Fosse, described as emotionally stark, is a far cry from her films such as "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Starman" and ‘"Scrooged."
Allen, 61, who lives in Monterey and whose son is elsewhere and pursuing his own career, is still creating new designs for her hand-knit scarves, sweaters and hats. But the pull of the stage is evident as she acknowledges that her life is shifting back toward the city.
"I feel like this transition is taking place for me," she said. "As much as I’ve loved doing the design part of my life, I have a feeling that I’m actually going to be focusing more on working in the theater. I’m so enjoying being here in New York."
Her play’s opening scene requires her to come close to crying every night.
"You work with everything inside of yourself that you can bring to a role," she told The Times. "And of course I have someone in my life who is no longer part of my life, and you work with those levels of regret and loss. So I think there are nights where, maybe when I make that connection, it does well up, and I feel very emotional."
Four Berkshire County women are participating in this year’s Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact through the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. The Leadership Institute prepares women to make an impact on social change by getting involved in civic affairs and running for political office.
Since the inception of the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact three years ago, more than 100 women representing all four Western Massachusetts counties have embarked on their journeys toward leading the way to social change.
Forty women were accepted into the 2012 class, including Donna River, Linda Tyer, and Catherine VanBramer, all of Pittsfield, and Claudette Webster of Great Barrington.
Focusing on areas such as community organizing, the legislative process, public policy, campaign management, fundraising, board participation, and running for office, the Institute gives women the tools -- and just as importantly the confidence -- they need to become civic and political leaders. The institute trains women in the nuts and bolts of impacting policy from the citizen perspective. By helping women develop these two sets of skills -- individual leadership and policy change -- we aim to advance a more equitable and just society.
The Leadership Institute receives funding from donors, as well as the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foun dation, the Community Foundation of Western Massa chusetts, and the Two West Foundation.
Incorporated in 1997, the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts is a public foundation building better communities for all by serving the women and girls in the counties of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire, Massachusetts.
County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers. Visit the County Fare blog at www.berkshireeagleblogs.com/countyfare.
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