Spotlight: ‘Getting Our Feet Wet’ at the Northampton Community Arts Trust; ‘Echo in the Canyon’ at Amherst Cinema

Published: 7/11/2019 4:24:02 PM

You can’t live without water

It’s one of the most essential ingredients of life — but it’s under threat in any number of places. And as Serious Play, the Valley theater ensemble sees it, it’s imperative that the theater community address the issue.

For the past week, members of Serious Play have been working at the Northampton Community Arts Trust building with some of their own past performers as well as a number of other artists — visual artist Rosalyn Driscoll, writer Eric Henry Sanders, musician Jonny Rodgers — to design a interdisciplinary, multi-level performance project that will examine issues such as water pollution, melting glaciers, rising seas and other problems.

As publicity notes put it, “In this time of chaos, we witness the climate deniers threatening our future. There has never been a more important time to use the theatre arts to explore the issue of water.”

Serious Play’s work at the Arts Trust building — part of a month-long residency hosted there for local theater projects by APE@Hawley — will culminate Saturday, July 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arts Trust with a public walk-through and discussion. The performers have constructed four water installations as part of their effort to explore “the movement, sound, musical, visual and dramatic possibilities around our often invisible, yet extremely valuable resource … WATER.”

Serious Play plans to make this project part of a larger devised piece, the “Moving Water Theatre Project,” that will debut next year. Donations are requested for attending Saturday’s event; to take part, you can email or call (413) 588-7439.


In the Canyon

The 2002 movie “Laurel Canyon” offered a somewhat cynical view of the luxurious Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, a place with a storied pop music history that in the film is also a setting for hedonistic lifestyles that threaten to undo the marriage of a young couple.

That’s not to say the people in “Echo in the Canyon” didn’t have a bit of hedonism in their own lives. But the documentary film, now playing at the Amherst Cinema, is focused on the seminal pop music that came out of the area in the mid 1960s, when folk went electric and groups like The Byrds, The Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas and others gave birth to the “California Sound.”

“Echo in the Canyon” features interviews and performances with a wide range of legendary names: Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Roger McGuinn, as well as later musicians they influenced such as Tom Petty, Beck, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, and Norah Jones.

Jakob Dylan, Bob Dylan’s son, serves as a sort of master of ceremonies and overall narrator and, according to publicity notes, uncovers some never-before-heard personal details behind the bands and their songs.

One reviewer says, “What makes this more than just a movie for fans of that music is that it delves into what made that era such a creative cauldron, comparable in some ways, as the film points out, to Paris of the 1920s and ’30s. It’s certainly possible to experience this film as a vast nostalgia trip. But [director Andrew] Slater and Dylan don’t overdo the hearts and flowers. The musicians featured here are important because their music was important.”

“Echo in the Canyon” plays Friday through Thursday, July 12-18, at Amherst Cinema at 2:15, 7:15 and (except Sunday) 9:45 p.m. Tickets and additional information are at

— Steve Pfarrer

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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