If you travel to the Lenox campus of Shakespeare & Company, you will notice that the trees, fenceposts, railing and even some rocks seem to have donned colorful fall jackets and scarves, all a way of marking the first reading in the 2012 Studio Series of play readings, Loose Knit by Theresa Rebeck. But there’s more to this story. Theresa Rebeck’s “Loose Knit” is under consideration for next season, along with four other plays to get readings this month at Shakespeare & Company. Already they are taking sides, with yarn bombings all over the S&Co Lenox campus.
Even scarier is the mischief the Moon for the Misbegotten partisans might be up to. That Eugene O’Neill play gets its reading on August 8, but they’ve already done their dirty work. Look at your August calendar and you will see there are two full moons bracketing the whole festival, on August 2 and 29, 2012. When people say “once in a blue moon” they are speaking to the rarity of the occurrence of a second moon happening in the same given month. We live in spooky times.
Now if you are not a Rebeck-watcher, here’s the scoop. She is a playwright to the tenth power. She penned Bad Dates, which was a big hit several winters ago, earning ShakesCo actor Elizabeth Aspenlieder a Nortie (Elliot Norton Award) for her brilliant performance.
And they are still talking about Rebeck’s The Understudy in Williamstown, which had Bradley Cooper and a first rate cast, earning unanimous raves from the local critics.
This past fall, the tv series Smash – which goes behind the scenes of show business – premiered on TV, the initial episodes partially written by Rebeck, who continues on as the series Executive Producer. As they say, “you’ve come a long way baby!”
While most observers see Rebeck as a new phenomenon, and a great sign that women are finally getting taken seriously in the theatre, her play Loose Knit dates back half a lifetime, to 1993, and makes for a fascinating first reading in the Shakespeare & Company Studio Series of plays.
Rebeck’s play is a tale of relationships, expectations, disappointments and betrayal. As expounded by five women who form a knitting group and the two men who are in their collective lives, we find that everyone is looking for love, or at least for satisfaction, but no one seems to find it. Of course, the quest for fulfillment is affecting these characters in extreme ways, resulting in lives that are unraveling right before our eyes (note the loaded title), and all we can do is go along for the ride.
The story of Loose Knit is conveyed through a series of scenes alternating between weekly knitting circles and a trio of odd blind dates. All of these dates are with the same wealthy man, Miles, in an exclusive Japanese restaurant. Through all three encounters, Miles is essentially stalwart, taking copious notes and otherwise unnerving the woman he is with. The dates, Margie, Paula and Liz, all members of the knitting circle, are very different, but come away from the experience rather uniformly disgusted. It is an oddity until we discover that there is an architect, Liz’s sister Lily, behind Miles’ attack pattern, making the tension in the play of an entirely different nature than we expect.
As the Yarn UnravelsTo mark the beginning of the new play readings, the community has gone all out to replicate “yarn bombings” that are happening all over the world. Yarn bombings are popping up in every location imaginable and bringing attention to everyday objects. The bombing refers to the guerilla-style placement of the yarn, oftentimes overnight to delight and surprise unsuspecting passersby in the morning.
Employees and volunteers from Colorful Stitches, a Lenox-based yarn and natural fiber shop, have covered trees, rocks, handrails and benches with embroidered hearts, ruffled scarves and hand-stitched swatches around the theatres and paths at S&Co. Colorful Stitches co-owner and lead bomber Mary McGurn says the project began earlier this summer, after she received overwhelming enthusiasm from Artistic Director Tony Simotes, and the communications staff.
McGurn launched into the effort with enthusiasm: “This is creative. It makes people stop and smile, which is just perfect,” she said.
About The Studio Series
Loose Knit kicks off the Studio Series on August 1, readings will run on every August Wednesday at 5pm in the Bernstein Studio Two at the Bernstein Center for Performing Arts, with five readings in total.
The series is a chance for actors and directors to share new works in an informal setting, and consider works for the upcoming season. All the plays are staged readings where actors have scripts in hand.
AUG 8 A Moon For The Misbegotten by Eugene O’Neill
AUG 15 August: Osage County by Tracy Letts
AUG 22 Equivocation by Bill Cain
AUG 29 The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh
Beginning August 1, readings will run every Wednesday at 5pm in the Bernstein Studio Two at the Bernstein Center for Performing Arts, with five readings in total. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students. Call the box office at 413-637-3353 or go online to Shakespeare.org for tickets.