Ko Festival enriches the Valley again this summer

By Lori O'Brien


To celebrate its 15th summer season, the Ko Festival of Performance has invited artists from its first 14 years to come back to share their latest works.

"The styles will be eclectic, and the work entertaining and thought-provoking strong fodder for the compelling discussions that follow every performance," said Ko Festival Artistic Director Sabrina Hamilton.

The season kicks off on July 14 at 8 p.m. with "Valentyne and Orson" by Ralph Lee's Mettawee River Company of New York City. The production is based on a sprawling medieval French folk tale that incorporates live music and a variety of masks, large and small puppets and other strong visual elements, according to Hamilton.

On July 15 at 8 p.m., the Ko Kabaret features a surprise roster of artists from the 14 years who will present a special anniversary gala cabaret.

"House/Boy," conceived and performed by Nicky Paraiso of New York City, is a sweet, poignant and musical look at parental legacies, and the enduring theme of what "home" means to Filipino Americans, according to Hamilton. The performance is planned July 16 at 8 p.m.

The Pilgrim Theatre of Ashfield and Boston present "N (Bonaparte)" on July 21-23 at 8 p.m., a contemporary theatrical confrontation with one's lust for power. Kermit Dunkelberg stars in the title role.

Wendy Woodson and Present Company of Amherst present "Veronica's Fold: Take 1" on July 28-30 at 8 p.m. The show is a video and performance piece featuring characters in an off-kilter world of missed connections, disputed recollections and unexpected acts of compassion. Joining Woodson are Peter Schmitz, Marina Libel, Lisa Biggs, Candice Salyers and Tom Vacanti.

The Ko Festival wraps up Aug. 4-6 with "A Comic Strip," created and performed by Touchstone Theatre of Bethlehem, PA. The show looks at the life of a seasoned and successful comic strip artist whose life begins to violently unravel. The piece contains adult themes, graphic language and strong sexual content. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

All performances except for "Valentyne and Orson" will take place at the Holden Theater on the Amherst College campus. The "Valentyne and Orson" performance will be conducted outdoors on the Amherst College observatory lawn off of Snell Street.

For ticket information, call (413) 542-2277.