Headliners: ‘Kate Plays Christine’ at Amherst Cinema; ‘The Seth Show’ begins season 3

  • Dan DeNicola—

  • Dan DeNicola—

Published: 9/1/2016 1:31:26 PM

Blurring the lines

Departing from her routine on the morning of July 15, 1974, Christine Chubbuck, the 29-year-old host of a talk show on WXLT-TV in Sarasota, Florida, announced she would open her program with a newscast from the anchor’s desk instead. She reported on three national news stories, then on a shooting at a local restaurant. When film footage of the shooting scene jammed, Chabbuck shrugged and said, “In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts, and in living color, you are going to see another first — attempted suicide.” She then produced a .38 revolver and shot herself in the head.

Chabbuck’s horrific death was initially thought to have inspired Paddy Chayefsky's plot for “Network,” the 1976 satirical film on the television industry in which the fictional newscaster Howard Beale threatens to shoot himself on live TV. Researchers later determined the Chayefsky’s work on the script preceded the talk-show host’s suicide, however, and the Chubbuck matter gradually faded from public attention, at least until this past year when two films about the incident were screened at the Sundance Film Festival. One, “Christine,” is a straightforward biopic. The other, “Kate Plays Christine,” attempts to dial up the whole reality-vs.-fiction theme by following an actress, Kate Lyn Sheil, as she meticulously prepares to portray Chubbuck for a movie that never actually comes to exist as a finished product because it's the film you're watching.

As filmmaker Robert Greene’s work unfolds and Sheil delves into Chubbuck’s history of depression, interviews her colleagues, buys a gun from the same store Chubbuck bought hers and attempts to transform her appearance via wigs, contact lenses and makeup, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell if the actress’ growing despondency and perturbation are a matter of her getting into character or of the character getting into her — an ambiguity that persists up to the enactment of the climactic suicide sequence.

On Thursday, Amherst Cinema will host a single screening of this “teasing, testing and vexingly brilliant new film” (Variety) at 7 p.m. as part of its Bellwether Film Series. Greene will be present for discussion. $9.75 general; $8.75 students and seniors. amherstcinema.org

What’s he worth? You decide

Monday is Labor Day which means — yeah, it’s the end of summer — but what it really means is that the next day, Tuesday, marks the return of “The Seth Show.”

That’s right, back for Season 3, smartypants Seth Lepore will be taking the stage of the West End at Eastworks in Easthampton at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month with his observational satire in full effect. This season, Seth will be going theme-less, winging it with a trajectory to be determined by unforeseen fluctuations in the environment each month — the set up, the room, the lights, the sounds and, as always, the index cards that you, the audience, fill out when you first arrive.

Also new this season: a Pay-What-You-Decide model adapted from ARC theatre in the U.K., in which there is no obligation to pay until AFTER you have seen the show. You then decide on the price that you think is suitable based on your experience and the value you got out of the show. This not only allows you to pay what you can afford (rather than knuckling under to a fixed ticket price), but also removes the financial risk of buying a ticket for a show in advance without knowing whether you are going to enjoy it or not. What’s not to like?

Due to this new pricing model, reservations WILL BE required. Check out sethums.com for details. The West End at Eastworks is Suite #160 (across from Riff’s) at 116 Pleasant St., Easthampton.

— Dan DeNicola

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