Spotlight: Strident Theatre’s “The Final Say”; Amherst Plein Air Society painting exhibit

Published: 7/3/2019 4:56:54 PM

There’s a new theatrical sheriff in town

Who owns a story? And can an idea really be stolen? In “The Final Say,” a play by Meryl Cohn, these aren’t just philosophical questions. The central character of Cohn’s drama/comedy is Naomi, who’s trying to finalize her play about her grandmother’s wartime survival and heroism. But she’s competing with a bombastic musical with a similar story line, written by her former mentor, that’s about to open off-Broadway.

“The Final Say,” which is being staged this Friday through Sunday, July 5-7, and July 11-14 at the Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre at Smith College, is the first production by Strident Theatre, a new company in Northampton that’s dedicated to telling the stories of women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

As the company’s website puts it, “We aim to offer plays written, produced, directed by, and featuring diverse women+ and LGBTQIA+ folks as a driving ethos, and not as a part-time concession.”

With “The Final Say,” Strident, led by veteran actors, writers and producers Susanna Apgar and Kyle Boatwright, has tapped a longtime Valley playwright to begin the company’s mission. Cohn, the founder of the Northampton Playwrights Lab, has won and been nominated for a number of awards, including the Eventide Arts Playwriting Award. 

In the play, Naomi seeks the help and friendship of her late grandmother’s closest confidant as she navigates a highly complicated road toward the truth. As she considers how far she’ll go to protect her beloved story, Naomi also discovers that a spunky production assistant, Martha, may be the key to untangling this mess … and her heart.

Tickets for “The Final Say,” which is co-directed by Apgar, are $28 general admission, $26 for seniors. Performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday are at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. To purchase tickets and learn more about Strident Theatre, visit


In the great outdoors

Artists have long painted outdoors, though the practice didn’t gain particular prominence until the 19th-century when the Impressionists and artists such as the Hudson River School painters made it a focal point of their work.

Today, that tradition of painting “en plein air” is carried on by groups such as the Amherst Plein Air Society (APAS), whose members are committed to painting outside whenever possible, or at the very least beginning work outdoors and then completing it in the studio.

At Forbes Library in Northampton, close to 120 paintings by 30 APAS artists are now on display in Hosmer Gallery in an exhibit that runs through July 30. There will be an artists’ reception for the show on Saturday, July 13 from 2 to 4 p.m.

According to press notes, APAS artists will exhibit paintings “inspired by their sketches, studies, fantasies, and photographs of nature … featuring a wide diversity of styles and approaches to landscape painting. Most paintings are for sale.”

Some of those artists will also offer an en plein air painting demo on Friday, July 19 from 9 a.m. to noon on the Forbes Library lawn, demonstrating a number of styles.

— Steve Pfarrer








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