Keeping Tabs on the Arts: ‘Breastless,’ a new play by Laurel Turk, and much more happening this week in the Valley

Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2016

Calling string players

The Springfield Mandolin Orchestra invites interested string players to attend its first rehearsal of the new year Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Sweet Music Studio, 185 West State St., Suite D, in Granby. Musicians should be able to read music, follow a score, have an advanced understanding of playing together in a chamber group and be committed to furthering the efforts of the orchestra.

The group ranges in age from 30 to 93 years old and studies European music from the 15th through the 21st century, as well as modern compositions by area musicians and composers. The ensemble contains a wide variety of its namesake instrument, as well as mandolas, mandocellos and basses. For information about membership, visit

Yiddish in translation

The writings of a pair of journalists who captured the anxiety and uncertainty of daily life for Jews in ghettos in German-occupied Poland during World War II is now available to readers of English, in a single volume, the newly published “In Those Nightmarish Days: The Ghetto Reportage of Peretz Opoczynski and Josef Zelkowicz (Yale University Press). The book is the 10th and final volume of the New Yiddish Library, a joint project of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst and the Fund for the Translation of Jewish Literature.

Opoczynski wrote for Warsaw’s secret Oyneg Shabes archive, doing much of his reporting while on his rounds as a mailman. Zelkowicz was a rabbi and ethnographer who write for a similar archive in the Lodz ghetto. Neither writer lived to see the work reach a broad audience; Zelkowicz was deported to Auschwitz in 1944, and the circumstances of Opoczynski’s death are unclear, though it is believed he was rounded up in 1943.

“They really didn’t know much more than what the people in the ghettos knew,” said Samuel Kassow, a history professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, who wrote the book’s introduction and coedited the book with translator David Suchoff, an English professor at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.”It gives us insight into a community that had not yet been destroyed.”

For more information, or to purchase a copy of the book, visit

At Hope & Feathers

An exhibit of work by Jan Ruby-Crystal will be on view through Feb. 27 at Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery, 319 Main St., Amherst. An opening reception will be held Feb. 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. and an artist’s reception will be held Feb. 6 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Ruby-Crystal’s paintings and handmade paper consider themes of life and decomposition as viewed through close visual studies.

“Vegetables and fruits have a life cycle,” the artist writes in a statement. “At first they are ripe and delectable, arranged to emote their sensual qualities and relationship with one another through size, color and form. As they age their contours are pushed and ripped to reveal inner seeds and juices. ... As they decompose they are mashed into pulp, emerging into usefulness once more as handmade paper. A new beauty arising from their end.”

Dancing break

Twenty-one University of Massachusetts Amherst and Five College dance students have spent most of their time between the fall and spring semesters working with guest artist Helen Pickett, taking classes in the newly renovated dance space in Totman Gymnasium on the UMass campus.

Picket, a nationally and internationally known performer and choreographer, danced with William Forsythe and the Frankfurt Ballet. She created choreography for the Aspen Santa Fe, Atlanta, Boston, Louisville and Washington ballet companies. Commissions include works for the Royal Ballet of Flanders, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and other companies across the globe.

This month, the students have studied ballet, Forsythe Improvisation Technologies and choreography/composition with Picket.

There will be a final showing of their work Saturday at 1 p.m. in the new dance space, which is open to the public.

For more information about Pickett, visit For more information about the Five College Dance Department, visit

Call for artists

Historic Northampton, in collaboration with the Northampton Center for the Arts and A.P.E., is accepting proposals from artists to exhibit work between September and June, 2017. The proposals should draw on, or be inspired by, objects from the museum’s permanent collection.

Submissions may be for solo or group shows/installations; and 2- or 3-dimensional work in all mediums will be considered. Each shows will run for about one month and opening receptions will be held on Northampton’s Arts Night Out.

Before applying, consult the museum’s online catalogue of its permanent collection of photographs, documents, manuscripts, fine art, furniture, ceramics, glass, metals, toys, tools, textiles and costumes from the 17th through 21st centuries. Also, visit the museum to look at the gallery space.

Deadline for submissions if March 15. For full details, visit

A new play

“Breastless,” a new play by Laurel Turk and directed by Jeannine Haas of Pauline Productions, based in Goshen, will be performed Thursday through Sunday and Jan. 21-24 at First Congregational Church of Ashfield.

They play is billed as “one woman’s determinedly truthful exploration of body image and sexuality after a double mastectomy. Intimate monologues are juxtaposed with wry humor, song and dance.” The performers are Turk, Emily Fox, Emily Bloch and Dorian Gregory. The piece was performed as a staged reading at last year’s Double Take Fringe Festival in Greenfield. It has been expanded to a full production.

Tickets are available at For more information, visit


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