Alan Chartock | I, Publius: Charting the hits and misses of Berkshire culture, politics

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The Berkshire Theatre Group: I gave a talkback last week, after a really great show at the Berkshire Theatre Group in Stockbridge. I love their Unicorn Theatre — so intimate; perfect for interacting with an audience.

Kate Maguire really is a genius for making the new Berkshire Theatre Group work. We are so lucky to have her among us.

The play, "Church & State," is brilliant. I loved it. It was written by the extraordinarily talented Jason Odell Williams, and directed by the force of nature Charlotte Cohn, who has a wonderful life story, including five years in the Israeli military. She grew up Orthodox but has carved her own way since, including marrying the fascinating Williams.

The play is about a Republican politician who sees the error of his ways regarding gun control. It is a hopeful story about what some of these gutless, feckless politicians might do when it comes to what John F. Kennedy called profiles in courage.

Thanks to Maguire, Williams and Cohn for this masterpiece. Two shows today are your last chance to see it here. I wouldn't miss it.

The Berkshire Museum: Van Shields is out!

As you might recall, I was very early into the fray over the disgraceful sale of masterpieces from the museum's collection. I was joined by a wonderful and dedicated group of people who have not given up. Many of us were infuriated by the callous, uncaring, oblivious, and nonresponsive attitude of the Museum trustees and administrative leadership.

When I mentioned my feelings about what the museum had done in my talkback at the Berkshire Theatre Group, there was supportive applause from the audience.

What really has me puzzled is the attitude of so many of our elected officials who were either in favor of the museum move or on the fence. Was it about money that might come in the form of campaign donations?

If that was the case, I think the backfire potential is quite great. Sitting on the fence is no better than taking the "wrong" side, at least according to folks with either position. There are many of us who will think long and hard before we enter the place again.

The district attorney race: First of all, it is great to see a genuine contest for the position. It was disgraceful to see the outgoing DA and the powers that be try to control the race by fixing the appointment of second in command Paul Caccaviello to the position by having the former DA, David Capeless, step aside. Bad news!

If there is one thing that we have too much of, it's a loaded electoral game. This is exactly the kind of nonsense that gerrymandering and the like has visited on the people.

The fact that two very strong opponents to Caccaviello have emerged can only be a good sign. People will have to make up their mind about two basic messages. The first is whether the old system is working. Right now, we have every reason to believe that Caccaviello will do what his predecessor has done.

The test for his challengers, Andrea Harrington and Judith Knight, is to prove that they have a better way. I have spoken at length with Harrington and, in the past, with Knight, and I am satisfied that they are searching for alternatives.

They must prove to voters that they can be tough on crime and strategic about finding new ways to fight it. From a political perspective, the fact that the two candidates are splitting the progressive vote could prove problematic.

So, from where I'm sitting, it certainly looks like it's Caccaviello's to lose. I hate rewarding what appears to be an election fixed by the ancient political establishment.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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