Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 23, 2013

The Other Mozart/Mahalla

Berkshire Fringe, Great Barrington, MA
through August 5, 2013
by Kait Rankins

Bard College is a home to a unique theatrical tradition in the Berkshires. Now in its ninth season, Berkshire Fringe has hosted over 140 full-length productions and more than 600 artists, giving audiences the chance to see new and experimental works that would not ordinarily be seen in Western Massachusetts venues.

On all nights from July 15-August 5 except Tuesdays, Berkshire Fringe presents either two or three productions in rotation. Patrons can opt to see one or more shows in one evening, which run from 50-80 minutes in length.

The material is challenging, new, and experimental. The Anthropologists' new play "Mahalla" intertwines two stories of Egyptian revolution -- the modern Arab Spring and the Passover story of the Jews' escape from Pharoah. While "Mahalla's" narrative structure seems forced and doesn't intertwine as often as it should, it will surprise and delight audiences with innovative staging and use of movement and dance.

Berkshire Fringe was also host to "The Other Mozart," a one-woman tour-de-force written, created, and performed by Sylvia Milo. It tells the true story of Mozart's older sister Nannerl, a music lover and harpsichord virtuoso who, because of her gender, was forced to confine herself to society's expectations and live in her younger brother's shadow. Through Milo's layered and beautiful performance, brilliant lighting and atmospheric sound design, Nannerl's tale is told with heartbreaking beauty, leaving one wondering if she could have become as great (or perhaps greater than) as her brother, had she been born a man.

The tiny black box theatre has extremely limited seating, and the plays are small in scale and designed to travel. For example, the elaborate skirt featured in "The Other Mozart," which stretches across the entirety of the stage and contains all of the play's props, fits into a rolling suitcase.

Berkshire Fringe performances are at Bard College's Daniel Arts Center. This is an intimate theatre experience you won't want to miss. Tickets for each play are $16 in advance and $20 at the door, with free music, talk-backs, and workshops interspersed throughout the schedule.