Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 16, 2017

Summer 2017 at the Mount

Lenox, MA
by Shera Cohen

It was approximately 25 years ago when the “divorce” between The Mount and Shakespeare & Company took place. At the time, I thought it was the beginning of the end for both the historic site of Edith Wharton’s home and this wonderful theatre company. Admittedly, because theatre was/is my #1 destination point in the Berkshires, I continued to attend S&Co. plays. Yet, I did not return to the Mount for several years. There really wasn’t much to do.

Happily, the Mount is back, and near the top, on my “Berkshire To Do List” and for good reason – for many good reasons. A different activity takes place on nearly every day of the week: Monday’s Summer Lecture Series, Tuesday’s repeat of the same, Wharton on Wednesdays, and Music After Hours on Friday and Saturday.

My favorite program is the Summer Lecture Series. Every Monday at 4pm, authors speak about their books; oftentimes biographies or histories. For one hour in the Wharton Stables, the writer offers backstories of his/her research and writing process. When I first attended, I might have been one of a few dozen in the audience. What a shame that more didn’t experience this educational fun. Not that I credit myself, but I will take a small bow for writing several pieces on the series, trying to get the word out. Each year the audience grew, then doubled, then filled to SRO, to the point that had I not ordered my tickets on the first date of sales, I missed out. The Mount had a success on their hands. What a nice problem to have. The solution, initiated last year, was a repeat lecture on Tuesdays at 11am. This was a wise decision.

Wharton on Wednesday offers a step back to the Gilded Age on the veranda of the Wharton home. For one hour, starting at 5pm, audience members listen to readings of Wharton short stories given by area actors. There’s wine, lemonade, and munchies; small round tables and wooden seats; and the view of the Wharton Estate, especially the gardens. The talks are $10, no reservation needed.

Early evenings on the weekend bring the sounds of local musicians for the Mount’s Jazz Series. This, too, takes place on the large porch, where the gorgeous landscape at dusk augments the ambiance. The series is free.

S&Co. has returned to its original home with productions of some of the Bard’s most famous plays, set on the pristine manicured lawn at the Mount. Just as 30+ years ago, when the woods doubled as S&Co.’s main-stage, here the stories come alive once more. This season’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is probably the most befitting Shakespeare play for this setting. The production is offered on numerous dates throughout the summer, usually at 6pm or 11am.

What can I do if I just want to walk around, you say? Put on your walking shoes or sneakers for the Mount House Tours, Gardens & Landscape Tours, SculptureNow Art Walks, and Ghost Tour. The latter features an exhibition of 30 giant sculptures throughout the site, each created by a professional artist. This curated display can be appreciated on a self-tour or, on occasion, guided by one of the sculptors.

From time to time, writers at any stage (primarily amateurs) congregate to discuss their work, to become inspired, and to keep writing. Poetry readings, additional author lectures, story sharing, and literary round-tables fill the summer calendar. I would like to think that Edith Wharton is aware of so much literature being created at what was once her home.