Solo voices sounding this summer at The Whit

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PITTSFIELD — A Whitney Center for the Arts season of theater performances dedicated to the solo voice — especially the female solo voice — begins June 28-30 with a fully staged production of Francis Poulenc's "La voix humaine (The Human Voice)," with mezzo-soprano Julie Rumbold. Nathaniel Baker will be piano accompanist.

Composed in 1958 from a 1936 play by Jean Cocteau, Poulenc's 45-minute solo piece is about an elegant woman and her final telephone conversation with a lover who is about to leave her.

The opera will be sung in English. Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. June 28 and 29, and 2 p.m. June 30.

Next up will be New York City's 92Y favorite "Harvey Granat, Live in Concert," featuring material from the American songbook, at 8 p.m., July 1.

Monica Bliss, artistic director of the 42 Wendell Ave. arts facility, said in an e-mail, that "as a venue with a small stage, [and based on the success of the Whit's March production of William Luce's 'Lillian'] we chose this year to explore the one-person show."

Bliss will direct local actor Brittany Nicholson in Dael Orlandersmith's one-woman play, "Until the Flood," July 12-21. The drama explores the social unrest in Ferguson, Mo. following the shooting of teenager, Michael Brown. Performances will be at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays.

"After seeing Brittany in the Whit's 2018 production of 'Fuddy Meers,' I cast her in 'The Vagina Monologues,'" Bliss said in the e-mail. "Wanting to work with her again, I looked for a piece. She expressed interested in doing a play that would benefit the black community. After directing 'The Laramie Project' last year, I was drawn to 'Until the Flood,' which is similar to 'The Laramie Project' in many ways. It is about a senseless murder of a young man and it's effect on a community."

While "Until the Flood" is based on interviews with people in the Ferguson community, it is presented as a one-woman play, Bliss said.

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In August, the Whit will present "Discontent," a new work by Caroline Fairweather, which will be produced by South County-based Ghostlit Repertory Theatre Company. Dates and times will be announced.

"Another part of our mission is to support artists and organizations so we are especially pleased to be partnering with Ghostlit Repertory Theatre Company, an exciting young theater troupe growing in the Berkshires," Bliss said.

In September, director Jackie Degiorgis takes on "Orion" by Matthew McLachlan, the only multi-actor play in the season.

Degiorgis previously directed a staged reading of "Orion" with Town Players of Pittsfield. "Jackie submitted the piece to the Whit to be presented as fully-staged production and we were pleased to select her submission," Bliss said. " It's going to be a very beautifully staged piece of theater."

"Orion" runs Sept. 13 through 22. Performances will be 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays.

Complete ticket information is available at thewhit.org.

The Whit returns to the solo voice in December with Mark "Monk" Schane-Lydon in "This Wonderful Life," a one-man version of "It's a Wonderful Life."

"Sometimes," Bliss said in the news release, "we need to be told the story of George Bailey which reminds us to look for the good and to not despair in difficult times."


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