BERKSHIRE ON STAGE: Mayor Alcombright Wows “Chautauqua” Audience at MASS MoCA
Billed as an “educative spectacular,” “Chautauqua!” raised its “tent” on Saturday night at MASS MoCA in North Adams, for a clash between reality and imagination. It was a great success, offering a mix of erudition and outrageousness that delighted the full house in attendance. Presented by the National Theatre of the United States of America, its goal is to engage citizens in exploring complex subjects, often historical, sometimes hysterical.
This article is part review, part report and part political. “Chautauqua!” can do that to you.
The Chautauqua movement began as a response to the need for rural audiences to become more knowledgeable and progressive. And while faith, family and community were the basic building blocks of its format, in some ways it was an alternative to the popular religious “revival” meetings of the day with their simplistic solutions to the complex problems of an increasingly industrialized America. As Master of Ceremonies Dick Pricey (played by James Stanley) explained: “The Chautauqua was where reason triumphed over insult.” Given the current state of politics, we could use some of that today.
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