Turning Point for the White Boy

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Turning Point for the White Boy

There are “Sundown Towns,” towns in which it is not safe for a black after dark. I lived in a “Sun-drenched Town,” a town in which you’d hardly see a black at any time.

There was an “other side of the tracks” in my town. The Paoli Local split the town, not in half, but let’s say 90-10. The blacks stayed on their side of the tracks. This was the 1950s.

The school playground, however, was democratic terrain. There the many bloods of the American stream met.

It was on the playground that I met him.

I can’t remember his name. It was Homer or Horatio. It was Johnson or Brown or Washington.

Homer or Horatio was good-natured and gregarious. He faced life with what I would much later recognize as a plantation smile. He was also a natural athlete, a “superb physical specimen,” as they say when coldly dehumanizing a person, the kind of guy who never wore a shirt in warm weather and you didn’t mind.

Homer or Horatio and I played a lot of ball together in my high school years.

We were friends on the playground.

After graduation, I had a summer job delivering furniture and appliances, helping to meet college expenses.

Homer or Horatio wasn’t going to college. He needed a job to subsist. But he confided to me with inherited stoicism that everywhere he applied in our sun-drenched town he met polite but curt refusal. Remember, this was the 1950s.

Homer or Horatio was my friend.

He needed a recommendation.

So I made the well meaning offer to put in a good word for him with my boss, pretending I was a man of influence, of privilege, of power. Though I knew he was better equipped for this kind of work than me, who was a definite liability on the ass-end of a sofa going up two flights of stairs.

I offered to help Homer or Horatio. He was my friend.

But I never followed through.

My big boss was a big bigot – Mr. Sundrenched himself. His assistant – I remember her name precisely – was the snooty Mrs. DuBois – pronounced Du-bwa, mind you, not Du-boise – who barely tolerated my lower middle classness.

It was no good. I would be no help. I had not the courage to recommend my black friend.

Moreover, from some dark cellar of racial anxiety, I made the selfish calculation that even recommending my friend might endanger my job. That he might trump me.

I never followed through on the offer to help my friend.

I did nothing.

I thought the rash offer forgotten.

But this unpardonable sin was not to go unpunished.

Late one drowsily hot Saturday summer afternoon as the work week wound down, while killing time by fiddling with the front store window display, I saw Homer or Horatio confidently approaching in his Sunday best.

It hadn’t occurred to me that he would do this.

It felt like something never before done in our sun-drenched town.

I couldn’t breathe.

I lept from the window and blocked him at the door, stupidly, selfishly, and transparently lying that I had done my best but that the boss expressed sincere regret that at the moment there were no jobs available.

Homer or Horatio lowered eyes that had seen cowardice, neatly folded his smile for use another day with a better friend, joined the palms of his hands prayerfully on his chest, and, bowing subserviently ever so slightly from the waist, turned and disappeared.

I never saw Homer or Horatio Johnson or Brown or Washington again.

Except on the rack of conscience.

Except on the ever rising tide of resolve to do better by people of color that persists to this day.

Edward J. Gallagher

Gadfly is fostering local art and encourages followers to contribute creative work and personal responses to the George Floyd killing.

Touchdowns for Touchstone this week: support your local artists and art institutions

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It would be a very dead place if the arts community wasn’t here.
Pamela Wallace of Crowded Kitchen Players

Followers know that Gadfly has been making a concerted effort to support the residential arts community — home-grown talent!

He’s hoping that local artists in various genres will see Gadfly as a place to publish their work and to discuss their work. Pass the word to others!

Mark your calendars for the first and second week of June for the next Touchstone presentations: June 2, 5, 9, 12.

FRESH VOICES 2020

Always fresh, sometimes provocative, never ordinary – Touchstone’s apprentice showcase returns for 2020! In light of recent events concerning public health and safety, these performances have been developed to take place remotely, and will feature both downloadable and streaming content from Touchstone Theatre apprentices Sean Patrick Cassidy and Adam Ercolani.

June 5 @ 7pm, streaming on YouTube Live
POTHOLE
Let’s go for a drive. The best conversations happen in your car. The best concerts do, too. 

DR. SOGOL’S MAGNIFICENT, MALFUNCTIONING, INTERGALACTIC, COSMIC CAR WASH AND STAMPS
A Quality Wash. Everytime. A completely customized and curated, compacted dose of “live” theatre.

June 2, 5, 9, 12, released at www.isonationpresents.com
ISO/NATION PRESENTS
A modern radio play for deep listeners of the Lehigh Valley and Beyond.

Fresh Voices 2020
Viewing/listening is FREE, and donations are gratefully accepted at bit.ly/FreshVoices2020

touchstone 2
321 E. 4th St.

Re-discovering the Westgate Mall

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Some may see the Westgate Mall as a dying shell of itself, but for me it contains memories of family, friends, innocence, and discovery.  The poem asks you to look deeper than the surface and think about the real meaning and measure of the location and its people. It is a poem not just of discovery but of re-discovery of something familiar but changing.

Matt Wolf

The Westgate Mall

Been hanging out at the Westgate Mall
with the ghosts of my childhood
for the last two hours
Passed up 15 Facebook status post moments.
That thought is postable.
That image is postable.
Didn’t want to inundate the world with
any more of my life.

The Westgate Mall really isn’t part of this world anyway
just some bizarre weigh station in between here
and the next embodied go-around
An island of groceries, skateboards, elderly track stars
and benches.  Lots of benches.
Or perhaps this Mall is as real as any place in this universe
alive and kicking with its bus stop and
brazen beating hearts yearning to hold onto to the marrow
of Bethlehem, Pa.
I think I’ll stay a little longer and find out.

Matt Wolf has written and performed poetry for the last 22 years in the Lehigh Valley and Matt - 2020 headshotSan Francisco Bay Area. He has organized over 40 local poetry readings and multi-media events over the last 8 years in the Lehigh Valley area. He has taught many poetry workshops in Lehigh Valley schools. He is also a Mindfulness Instructor and is a member of the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission. Poems previously appeared in Lehigh Valley Vanguard and Lovers and Fighters: Poetry for Social Change. His book A Journey is published by BAPL Books, 2018. See the article “Giving Back” on Matt (with great picture) in the March 20, 2019, issue of Fig.

Fresh Voices from Touchstone in early June

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It would be a very dead place if the arts community wasn’t here.
Pamela Wallace of Crowded Kitchen Players

Followers know that Gadfly has been making a concerted effort to support the residential arts community — home-grown talent!

He’s hoping that local artists in various genres will see Gadfly as a place to publish their work and to discuss their work. Pass the word to others!

And he will call attention to local events and productions that showcase local artistic skills. Pass him the word!

Recently he called attention to Touchstone Theatre’s Young Playwrights’ Festival. 10 or so original works by our elementary school students. It was amazing — even more so because of the agility of the braintrust at Touchstone headquarters in moving this in-person experience online because of the coronavirus beast. It was — drum roll again — amazing. There were some 1200 online views of the Festival, and nearly $10,000 was raised. A special thanks to sponsor Peron Development too!

Mark your calendars for the first and second week of June for the next Touchstone presentations.

FRESH VOICES 2020

Always fresh, sometimes provocative, never ordinary – Touchstone’s apprentice showcase returns for 2020! In light of recent events concerning public health and safety, these performances have been developed to take place remotely, and will feature both downloadable and streaming content from Touchstone Theatre apprentices Sean Patrick Cassidy and Adam Ercolani.

June 5 @ 7pm, streaming on YouTube Live
POTHOLE
Let’s go for a drive. The best conversations happen in your car. The best concerts do, too. 

DR. SOGOL’S MAGNIFICENT, MALFUNCTIONING, INTERGALACTIC, COSMIC CAR WASH AND STAMPS
A Quality Wash. Everytime. A completely customized and curated, compacted dose of “live” theatre.

June 2, 5, 9, 12, released at www.isonationpresents.com
ISO/NATION PRESENTS
A modern radio play for deep listeners of the Lehigh Valley and Beyond.

Fresh Voices 2020
Viewing/listening is FREE, and donations are gratefully accepted at bit.ly/FreshVoices2020

touchstone 2
321 E. 4th St.

“It occurs to me I am right on the line / between heaven and earth”

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“It occurs to me I am right on the line
between heaven and earth.”
               Cleveland Wall

With all of April’s usual National Poetry Month festivities cancelled, Cleveland decided to record a poem a day and post it to YouTube. The site of “Liminal I” is the “spirit field,” a grassy swath along Lehigh Street at the bottom of 7th Avenue.

Liminal I

My lad and I take a short walk
to the bottom of the lane behind our house.
But the end of the lane is not the end.
Beyond lies a road, a swath of green,
a wild slope, and the railroad tracks.
Beyond the tracks: canal, towpath,
river, mountain; and beyond the mountain
are shops and a cinema we know
because we have been there. Our minds can see
a thousand miles in every direction.
We can see around corners.

The green swath is mown we know not
by whom. The wind makes a blunted sound
against our hoods, the sky
more pearly than leaden.
A keening comes from the brush
as of a baby crying, but as we approach
it fades and resurfaces farther on,
more like a goat’s voice. It strings us
along to the end of the field
where, through a break in the bracken,
we see a truck beside the tracks below,
the complaint of its engine borne up
on gusts of wind which bend its shape.

The lad lies down on thick-thatched grass
and bids me do the same, which needs
a quelling of the grown-up injunction
to remain always upright in public.
When I lie down, it is quiet. The wind
rushes smooth, unimpeded over me.
The blank white sky develops
subtleties of grey, a visible depth.
Unseen geese honk; smaller birds fly over.
It occurs to me I am right on the line
between heaven and earth.

Then I see sparks flitting in the air,
bright on bright like angels escaped
from the head of a pin, and I wonder
if I could be seeing into another plane
in which these busy sparks are darting
all the while, unseen by mind or eye.
I tell myself it is my vision tripping
on a surfeit of light. But my son
sees the same sparks and has no doubt.

Cleveland Wall is a poet and teaching artist in Bethlehem. She performs with poetry guitar duo The Starry Eyes and co-hosts Tuesday Muse, a performance and open-mic series at The Ice House on 2nd Tuesdays, currently meeting via Zoom. Her book Let X = X was published by Aldrich Press, 2019.

What are you doing tonight? Touchstone’s Young Playwrights’ Festival begins in 1/2 hour — Support local talent!

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Proudly presenting
THE 15th ANNUAL YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS’ FESTIVAL
ONLINE!

WHEN: Saturday, May 9, 2020 @ 7pm – TONIGHT!
WHERE: Wherever you are!

We’re so excited to share this year’s festival with you!
You can watch the performance HERE
(PLEASE NOTE: If you click on the link before 7pm, it’ll take you to a placeholder page that you can leave open or bookmark for later. At 7pm and after, it’ll take you to our streaming festival on YouTube Live! You can also find it on YouTube by searching for “YPF Touchstone”)

———–

The Radioactive Octopus
by Jayden Velazquez, Donegan Elementary
Always Start from the Top
by Sean Haas, James Buchanan Elementary
The Dramatic Tale of the Singer That Can’t Sing
by Ana Stahley, Governor Wolf Elementary
Pizza Man
by Izzah Freer and Junior Collazzo, Sheridan Elementary
Where’s My Icing
by Skyler Snyder, Farmersville Elementary
Trapped in YouTube
by Emerson Espinal, Melissa Rojas, and Jael Garcia, Casa Guadalupe
The Adventures of Charlie and Nesty
by Gianna Vetter, Spring Garden Elementary
Jack, Jill, and the Unknowns
by Esdras Aquino-Gomez, Fountain Hill Elementary
The Marching Band Prince That Saved the Aliens
by Abrielle Brennan, Nitschmann Middle

Discovering Bob Cohen the poet

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“If I should lose my language,
That would be the end of me.”
Bob Cohen

Bob Cohen, Home at My Typewriter: Selected Poems, Bethlehem:
BAPL Books, 2018.

So I attended Matt Wolf’s poetry reading the other week as part of the Bethlehem Area Public Library’s fine online series during this coronavirus era of our lives.

And then I went to buy a copy of Matt’s book as part of the BAPL Books series.

And found a book by Bob Cohen. (More on Matt later, I promise.)

I knew Bob Cohen.

Lots of us knew Bob Cohen (1938-2016): Peace Corps volunteer, a Dean at Lehigh, owner of a College Admissions small business, president of the Rotary Club, member of the Bethlehem Arts Council, BAPL board member, WDIY commentator and Board member, cabaret singer, actor.  Cohen 1

That was Bob Cohen.

But I didn’t know the multi-talented Bob (if you don’t believe me, look here and here and here) as a poet.

Neither, apparently, did his wife Amy Miller Cohen, who describes in an introduction to this book finding among a “gold mine of his papers . . . several hundred poems.”

Several hundred secret poems! (Echoes of Emily Dickinson!)

And in this locally produced book you’ll find about a hundred of them selected by BAPL director Josh Berk.

It was hard to pick one to share here on Gadfly in the previous post. I had a dozen top picks. But I eventually decided on “I Saw You Take the Cat’s Head.”

A poem shouldn’t need somebody else’s analysis. It should stand on its own. And I hope you enjoyed it.

But let me say that I enjoyed Bob watching Amy, appreciating her domestic artistry, recognizing his own incapacity, and thankful to be with her. And he has nailed that haughty exiting cat dead on.

You’ll find much, much more enjoyable in the book.

Library users will be familiar with plans for the “Bob Cohen Room,” with donations still appreciated for space renovation.

“I Saw You Take the Cat’s Head”

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I Saw You Take the Cat’s Head
Bob Cohen

I saw you take the cat’s head
With your hand, all fingers working
Down to the bone through fur;
Then two other fingers, thumb and forefinger
Lit on one ear, stopped a moment,
And proceeded to turn it inside out,
Exposing the labyrinthine gulleys full of silty brown.
The first touch with your probing Q-tip
And she started in your hand, but you held fast,
And gentle-talked her into submission.
You went in, and in again
Until the brown stuff hung upon the cotton.
“Look what we got, Munchkin! Now
Was that so bad?”

The cat, released, walks away
Ungrateful; I go back to my book,
Brimming with gratitude.

Home at My Typewriter: Selected Poems, Bethlehem: BAPL Books, 2018.

Support your local young playwrights!

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Gadfly supports home-grown talent!

Please donate: the local arts community needs a solid financial base to thrive

Touchstone Theatre
Theatre that transforms

Touchstone 3

Proudly presenting
THE 15th ANNUAL
YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS’ FESTIVAL
ONLINE!

WHEN: Saturday, May 9, 2020 @ 7pm
WHERE: Wherever you are!

Here’s how it works: We’ll be streaming concert readings of our festival finalists on YouTube live. You can tune in for the event, either dressed up in your festival best or in your pajamas.

Link to the livestream will be emailed out and posted on our website and social media by 12 noon on May 9th.

Make it dinner and a show: Since you’ll be watching the festival from home, why not order curbside pickup from your favorite local restaurant? Shop at local greats, like Jenny’s KualiMolinari’sMolly’s Irish PubThe MintBoleteAsiaSetta LunaThe BayouSouthside 313The Wooden Match, and more – they’ve been kind enough to donate to Touchstone and YPF over the years, and treating yourself to dinner is the most delicious way to support your local business community.

And speaking of support: On a normal year, the Festival performance is followed by our annual Gala, which raises money to support Touchstone’s award-winning arts in education programming. In lieu of the Gala, we’re simply accepting donations – we know that money is tight for many of you, and there are many worthy causes (especially now), but any support is greatly appreciated. You can donate directly here. Many thanks to those who have already donated – we’re blown away by your generosity!

Young Playwrights’ Festival is generously sponsored by our naming sponsor


YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS’ FESTIVAL ONLINE

May 9, 2020
Please donate!

An invitation to local artists

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Life has kind of slowed down for the Gadfly in the coronavirus days.

None of the usual City Hall intrigues to cover.

No meetings to attend. (He misses the Parking Authority get-togethers. Sigh.)

Sometimes not much to do but watch his beard spread almost as fast as the virus.

But empty space has given him time to think.

He would like to do more to cover, to support, to promote, to publish the arts in Bethlehem.

Not the so-called big stuff — you know, ArtsQuest and all that. They are well taken care of.

But the “local arts,” the “resident arts community” — the home-grown!

Of which there is a substantial amount.

And which ever needs nourishing.

This was always part of the original conception of the Gadfly blog in the notion of “local color” pieces (a term borrowed from an American 19th century literary movement: works written in a region, about a region, that are recognizably regional, that, in effect, could be written nowhere else).

From the Gadfly About page: Local Color: original creative work with recognizably local Bethlehem subjects or connections — art, poems, mini-essays, vignettes, photographs, songs — that help us see or think about our town and townspeople in interesting ways.

Creative work by Bethlehem artists and, especially, about Bethlehem itself.

Followers know Gadfly’s orgasmic coverage of the Touchstone Festival and the H. D. celebration.

And you’ve watched him poach Dana Grubb’s treasures and gratefully receive Ron Yoshida’s perambulating perceptions.

But Gadfly would like to take this opportunity to beat the drum more forcefully.

Gadfly would like to publish original work of various sorts.

Gadfly would also like to publish pieces about resident art.

He’s not thinking so much as announcements of events — Facebook is good for that — though he will do so.

He’s thinking more of blog-length pieces that help us understand the art and artists and analyses or reviews of works or events. Thought-pieces.

Some followers are connected to the local resident arts community — please pass the word!

Some of you — perhaps with a bit more time on your hands these days — have something you would shyly and secretly want to share — Gadfly can offer the opportunity for a first-time publication.

Gadfly himself has put some things out there (for instance, “First day of school” and “The Downsizing Decision (nearing 80)”) and survived!

(Hmm, Gadfly rather likes his line “where excuses mate, and even the dust has weight” in the poem.)

So please let the word go forth that Gadfly invites creative work and posts about creative work!

Support your local artists: Matt Wolf poetry reading online tonight

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Matt Wolf poetry reading via BAPL:

Wednesday April 22, local Lehigh Valley poet (and BAPL’s own) Matt Wolf will read from his BAPL Books collection, A JOURNEY–and more!–online, via Zoom and Facebook Live. Stream from anywhere. A Q&A will follow.
Poet Matt Wolf Reads LIVE
Online!
Weds April 22, 2020
7:30 pm EST

Bach beckons noon tomorrow

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The Bach Choir at Bethlehem Presents: 

Bach at Noon In Your Home!

April 14, 2020 from 12 PM – 1 PM
 
You’re invited to an ONLINE watch party where we’ll present our January Bach at Noon concert in its entirety. The concert includes Greg Funfgeld’s informal, enlightening insights into the music, performed by members of The Bach Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra.



You can access the concert on The Bach Choir’s YouTube Channel or Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BethlehemBach

Live from Bethlehem! It’s BAPL Online!

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“Library”: from the Latin liber, book.

Do you remember when libraries were just books?

The small library tucked away just over the railroad hump in Lansdowne, Pa., during the 1940s and 1950s was as instrumental in shaping my mental and moral character as the Highland Ave. playground was in shaping my physical and social one.

There the building still is. Thank god it’s not a tattoo parlor or something. The spirit of the bun’d, bespectacled Miss Barrow must still reside beneath the eaves.

library

Our BAPL is not your grandfather Gadfly’s library. It’s so much more.

Would you join me tonight at the virtual library ?

Support your local artists!

Bapl

Join us on Thursday April 9 for a live online reading! Lehigh Valley author Joyce Hinnefeld will read from her latest collection of short fiction, THE BEAUTY OF THEIR YOUTH, online, via Facebook Live and Zoom. Stream from anywhere. A live Q&A will follow.
Order a copy online from Let’s Play Books or your favorite local bookstore!
This reading will take place ONLINE, via Zoom and on Facebook LiveRegister here, or email kracculia@bapl.org to request a Zoom link and password. You will receive your log-in credentials on the afternoon of the reading.
Author Joyce Hinnefeld Reads Live
Online!
Thurs April 9, 2020
7:30 pm EST

Theater ticket offer from the Gadfly!

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTS INSTITUTIONS

Don’t be bashful!

Gadfly still has 2 tickets he can’t use for the Sunday March 8, 2 pm performance. Free to someone who hasn’t been to Touchstone Theatre in exchange for at least a selfie that he can publish.

As a bonus, you can take a selfie with the Gadfly his very own self!

Edith Piaf: Hymn to Love

March 5-8, 2020
Thurs-Sat @ 8 p, Sun @ 2p

Teatro Potlach of Fara Sabina, Italy returns with a new reimagining of their Edith Piaf cabaret; the original production played to four sold-out houses on their first visit to Bethlehem! This new iteration, created in collaboration with Touchstone Theatre, will delve deeper into the chanteuse’s life and will feature live accompaniment from Touchstone Musical Director Jason Hedrington.

———–

Dave Howell, “To Piaf with ‘Love’ at Touchstone Theatre.” Bethlehem Press, March 4, 2020.

Edith Piaf may not be a household name in the United States, but she is an icon in her native France and legendary throughout Europe.

Her life was as tumultuous as that of Judy Garland and Billie Holiday, and she has been compared to them.

Piaf was vilified for her many, often scandalous, love affairs and glorified for her singing. She was unique in the emotion she poured into her songs, and in the way they reflected her life.

Touchstone Theatre
321 E. 4th St.

———–

Contact Gadfly via the Contact link here on Gadfly or at ejg1@lehigh.edu.

The Arts in Bethlehem: another offer you can’t refuse!

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The weekend! Thank god! And a wonderful day it is!

Where are you spending your recreation and entertainment time and dollars this weekend?  touchstone 2

On the local arts and/or the local arts establishments?

Gadfly has told you in a previous post that he is making a commitment not only to patronize the local arts more but to promote them here when he can. Arts of all kinds.

So have you been to Touchstone Theatre?

Founded in 1981, Touchstone Theatre is a professional not-for-profit theatre dedicated to the creation of original work.  At its center is a resident ensemble of theatre artists rooted in the local community of Bethlehem. . . . The Ensemble . . . transforms audiences through community-based theatrical productions and community-building projects.

On Sunday March 8, 2PM Gadfly’s going to Edith Piaf: Hymn to Love at Touchstone.

Piaf (1915-1963) was a famous French “chanteuse,” night-club singer, cabaret singer. She’s a cult figure, a legend, an influence.

Gadfly now has another two tickets to the Piaf show that he can’t use.

So he makes his offer again:

Gadfly would like to give the two tickets free to someone who has never attended Touchstone Theatre in return for a short post on Gadfly about the show or the experience of going to Touchstone.

Discover Touchstone.

Don’t let the post scare you — he’ll accept a selfie taken at the theatre!

What say? Contact Gadfly via the Contact link here on Gadfly or at ejg1@lehigh.edu.

Let’s support the local arts and arts institutions!

Touchstone Theatre
321 E. 4th St.

The Arts in Bethlehem: an offer you can’t refuse

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Gadfly bets that when many of you think of the Arts in the Valley, you think of ArtsQuest, Pennsylvania Shakespeare, the State Theater, and so forth.

Big-name productions. Lots of advertising. Lots of splash. Lots of foreign talent.

Gadfly bets that some of you may know of Touchstone Theatre, but few of you have attended a performance there.

A shame.

Touchstone is one of many distinctive Arts treasures in Bethlehem.

Founded in 1981, Touchstone Theatre is a professional not-for-profit theatre dedicated to the creation of original work.  At its center is a resident ensemble of theatre artists rooted in the local community of Bethlehem. . . . The Ensemble . . . transforms audiences through community-based theatrical productions and community-building projects.

Original work . . . resident ensemble . . . rooted in the local community . . . community-building projects.

Remember the 10-day Festival UnBound? (Deargod, look at this video, and I dare you not to glow with pride at this Bethlehem extravaganza!)

Frankly, Gadfly has not been good at recognizing and patronizing these home-grown treasures.

But that is changing.

Gadfly has become familiar with and inspired by a project that you will hear more about later, a project about the Arts of the Local Culture, about the Resident Arts Community.

Native talent.

A month ago, Gadfly went to an original play at the Ice House that he wrote you about, and Sunday to a wonderful performance (playing this week too) at the Pennsylvania Playhouse.

And on Sunday March 8, 2PM he’s going to Edith Piaf: Hymn to Love at Touchstone.

Gadfly has two tickets for that performance he can’t use.

Here’s his offer: he would like to give the two tickets to someone who has never attended Touchstone Theatre in return for a short post on Gadfly about the show or the experience of going to Touchstone.

What say? Contact Gadfly via the Contact link on Gadfly or at ejg1@lehigh.edu.

Never enough H. D.! Thursday, February 13, 6:30-7:45, BAPL South Side

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Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”

Never enough H. D.!

HD discussion

And Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre’s original play The Secret about H. D., which premiered during Festival UnBound in October, returns April 2-5. Get your tickets early! Don’t miss!
Touchstone Theatre

Never enough H. D.! Thursday, February 13, 6:30-7:45, BAPL South Side

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem logo

Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”

Never enough H. D.!

HD discussion

And Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre’s original play The Secret about H. D., which premiered during Festival UnBound in October, returns April 2-5. Get your tickets early! Don’t miss!
Touchstone Theatre

H. D. portrait by Angela Fraleigh unveiled

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Tip o’ the hat to Gadfly followers who contributed for the H.D. portrait through the BAPL go-fund me page and to the Laros Foundation for pitching in in a big way.

Bethlehem Area Public Library Receives Grant from R.K. Laros Foundation
for Portrait of H.D.

BETHLEHEM, PA (January 28, 2020) — The Bethlehem Area Public Library (BAPL) is pleased to announce it has received a grant from the R.K. Laros Foundation to support the library’s recently completed portrait commission of local literary legend H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), painted by local artist Angela Fraleigh, professor and chair of the Moravian College Art Department. The grant was presented to BAPL Executive Director Josh Berk and Chair of the Board of Trustees Anne Felker on Wednesday, January 22, by Laros Executive Director Sharon Jones Zondag and Trustees Ron Madison and Elizabeth Shimer Bowers. The Laros Foundation is “pleased to be a part of [the Library’s] mission to preserve our shared history and to bring the community into the vivid life of our local library.”

———–

BAPL’s Josh Berk hosted a “sneak preview” of the H. D. portrait last Saturday at the library.

(Gadfly apologizes for the lousy photo quality, captured from video taken with poor lighting. Portrait better seen on the videos below.)

H. D. 1

H. D. (Hilda Doolittle)
Angela Fraleigh

Video highlights of the “sneak preview”:

  • BAPL director Josh Berk sketches the history of the Finding H. D. project and the portrait with Doug Roysdon’s “H. D.” marionette watching over his shoulder.
  • Artist Angela Fraleigh unveils the portrait.
  • Fraleigh talks a bit about her work.
  • Actors Will Reichard-Flynn and Aidan Gilrain-McKenna, with Liam McKenna on trumpet, perform a scene from “The Secret,” an original play about H. D. that premiered during Festival UnBound in October.
  • Some audience members chatting about the portrait.

“The Secret,” devised by Mock Turtle Marionette Theater Company, directed by Jennie Gilrain, puppetmaker and chief playwright Doug Roysdon, returns April 2-5 at Touchstone Theatre, 321 East 4th Street, Bethlehem. Reservations:  610-867-1689, or lisa@touchstone.org
Touchstone Theatre

Premier by local artist this weekend — don’t miss!

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem logo

hear Gadfly read Walt Whitman

There’s an original play premiering in Bethlehem this weekend.

Original.

Local talent.

Part of the IceHouse Tonight series.

Gadfly wants to begin to pay more attention in these pages to local arts and artists — the kinds of things that aren’t heavily advertised or covered in the local press and want and deserve our support.

What should he cover? Let him know.

And who is able to post substantively (not just performance info) on such events?

Frankly, the IceHouse Tonight series has not been on Gadfly’s radar. Maybe the same for many of you.

The Ice House is a beautiful venue, local treasure (and let’s take a moment to remember the great Charlie Brown).

Original work by local artist — always beautiful too.

“Jetblack Sunrise”
by Michael Fegely
8PM, Jan, 24-26
The Charles A. Brown Ice House
56 River St. (Sand Island)

Kathy Lauer-Williams, “Original play based on Walt Whitman’s poetry opens at Ice House.” Morning Call, January 21, 2020.

Allentown’s Michael Fegely has long been fascinated with the poetry of American icon Walt Whitman. His 2016 one-man play “Whitman by Fire” was based on Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”

Now Fegely is premiering a new theatrical interpretation of Whitman’s work in “Jetblack Sunrise,” which comes to Bethlehem’s Ice House this weekend and to Easton’s Nurture Nature Center in February.

In Behlehem, “Jetblack Sunrise” is part of the IceHouse Tonight series, and brings to life “the soaring, enigmatic work of America’s greatest poet.”

The intimate hour-long production is staged simply, and tells the story of a former soldier struggling to grasp his place in his country, his place among mankind, and ultimately his place in all of time.

The creators say they have developed a new way to communicate Whitman’s poetry to “unscrew the locks” and “embrace your soul” so that audiences embark on a brief odyssey of the mind — from the smallest blade of grass to the reaches of the cosmos — along the way finding their shared humanity, and awakening our familiar self in its immortality.

Fegely stresses that the performance is not a poetry reading of Whitman’s work. However, every line and word is drawn from an 1855 first edition of the poet’s “Leaves of Grass” and the 1856 poem “Song of the Open Road.” The title comes from a line in “Song of Myself,” one of the poems in “Leaves of Grass.”

Fegely and Amenda used lines and passages from the poetry to create an original active through-line that is brought to life on stage, while remaining absolutely true to the poet’s grand thoughts. They say in this way the audience “shares in the revelation of his vision as it is brought into the present to live among us.”

ABE Awards for Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound productions

logo 78th in a series of posts on Touchstone Theatre logo

Huzzas, high-fives, hugs, handshakes, and honkings are in order for dramatic elements of Touchstone Theatre’s 10-day festival this fall that occasioned a near record 77 posts here on Gadfly.

Well done!

“The Secret” — the play about Bethlehem-born poet H. D. — returns to Touchstone April 2-5.

Paul Willistein, “14th annual ABEs Salute Lehigh Valley Stage: From plays to musicals, theater unbound in 2019.” Bethlehem Press, January 3, 2020.

Producer: Touchstone Theatre. “Festival UnBound,” the multimedia project two years in the making, produced some 20 events and ran 10 days in October 2019. The festival took a measure of Bethlehem’s southside 20 years after Touchstone’s landmark “Steelbouund” production when SteelStacks was a twinkle in the Christmas City star. It was a big year for Touchstone Theatre, which also produced a terrific 20th production of “Christmas City Follies.”

Play: “The Secret,” Mock Turtle Marionette Theater. The world premiere about H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Bethlehem native and poet, during “Festival UnBound” was part of “Finding H.D., A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle,” a year-long series of events organized by the Lehigh University English Department, Bethlehem Area Public Library, the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre. Doug Roysdon, Artistic Director, Mock Turtle Marionette Theater, was chief writer of the multimedia performance that mixes narrative, song, music, poetry, puppets and actors. Script collaborators were Jennie Gilrain, William Reichard-Flynn, Aidan Gilrain-McKenna, Matilda Snyder, Kalyani Singh and Seth Moglen.

Original Play: “Prometheus/Redux,” Touchstone Theatre. “Prometheus/Redux” was the astounding opening work of “Festival UnBound.” “Prometheus/Redux,” commissioned for “Festival UnBound,” is written by Gerald Stropnicky, a founding member of Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, and directed by Christopher Shorr, Touchstone ensemble member and director of theater at Moravian College. Music is by Harry Mann. Images and footage from the Steelworkers Archives are incorporated into the work as is an image of the implosion of Martin Tower, former Bethlehem Steel Corp. headquarters.

Ensemble, Play: “Prometheus/Redux,” Touchstone Theatre. Touchstone Theatre cofounder and ensemble member Bill George returned as Prometheus. It’s 20 years after he left The Steel and now, instead of being chained to the ladle, he is bound to a hospital bed, suffering liver failure. The cast included former steelworkers, a county judge and members of previous generations of the Touchstone ensemble.

Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten

ArtsQuest plan to add artistic value to our community

Gadfly knows it’s going to be a good day when he can find “turn and grind” and “artistic grit” in his morning newspaper headlines!

And Gadfly is not only likin’ the words about but also the concept behind ArtsQuest’s latest development project.

See if you agree.

And don’t miss refreshing yourself in the second article on how “the scorched land where capitalists once sought profit is now known for its artistic value to the community.”

John J. Moser, “ArtsQuest to turn Bethlehem Steel’s massive former Turn and Grind building into program and festival center.” Morning Call, December 12, 2019.

Bethlehem Steel’s massive Turn and Grind Shop, long viewed by ArtsQuest as a jewel on the South Bethlehem SteelStacks campus, will be revitalized into a programming, exhibit and festival venue, the nonprofit arts organization announced Thursday. The renovated 26,000-square-foot brick structure, adjacent to the SteelStacks Visitor Center, will be called The Air Products Atrium at the Turn & Grind Center. Work on what ArtsQuest called “one of the most unique buildings in South Side Bethlehem,” will start with $1.5 million pledged by the foundation of Lehigh Valley industrial gas company Air Products, it was announced.

But the work would include a 14,000-square-foot public programming space that could feature nationally touring education programs, science- and arts-related exhibits, and theater and dance performances.

“The growing collaboration between Air Products and ArtsQuest will result in increased arts programming, performances, exhibitions and experiences for tens of thousands of residents and visitors annually,” a news release said. It noted that Air Products was among the initial partners for SteelStacks and is the title sponsor of its Air Products Town Square.

The Air Products grant also will fund a 4,000-square-foot wing of the Cultural Center, to be called The Air Products MakerSpace, that will be open to local artists, innovators, entrepreneurs and the public, and give them tools, materials, educational opportunities and technologies to “discover, build and create together,” ArtsQuest said.

Also funded from that will be the Cultural Center’s Air Products Visiting Artist Studio. It will seek to provide “an inspirational environment away from the restrictions and pressures of an artist’s regular routines, providing opportunities to work on projects, offer workshops and programs at area schools, and show their work in exhibitions.”

The new Air Products Atrium at the Turn & Grind Center would “welcome thousands of students, professionals, community members and festival attendees annually to SteelStacks,” a news release said.

ArtsQuest said the vision for the Cultural Center and Turn & Grind Center appealed to Air Products and its foundation because of the proposed buildings’ community programming, its ability to help attract and retain a creative workforce, and its enhancement of the quality of life in the region.

“Air Products is committed to the Lehigh Valley and we have a responsibility to be supportive of the local communities where we live and work,” said Air Products Chief Financial Officer Scott Crocco, an Air Products Foundation trustee.

The MakerSpace will be a self-directed learning zone for activities related to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, that encourages cross-generational learning. It will include sheet metal, metal machining and welding, woodworking, 3-D printing, laser engraving and digital design and a fabrication lab.

The Visiting Artist Studio will be a space designed to let artists develop their work and explore ideas, while helping to establish the Cultural Center and South Side Bethlehem as destinations to see world-class artists.

Nicole Radzievich, “How artistic grit reinvented the Bethlehem Steel plant and the South Side.” Morning Call, December 13, 2019.

ArtsQuest’s announcement Thursday of a new entertainment venue proposed for the former Turn-and-Grind Shop is just the latest project in a vision that began more than 20 years ago to recast the Bethlehem Steel’s shuttered hometown plant.

The transformation began in earnest a decade ago when the Las Vegas Sands opened a casino, priming the pump for development on the rest of a nearly 130-acre swath of the old plant property between the Fahy and Minsi Trail bridges.

Giving thanks: for those who license us to dream

75th in a series of posts on Touchstone Theatre

We have gathered today in the spirit of community to rise up and embrace the  possibilities of our future.

And what amazing possibilities they are.

They shine like a piece of polished Bethlehem steel.

They shine like our lights at Christmas time.

They shine like the Star of Bethlehem itself.

You see, for generations, Bethlehem defined itself through its pride of industry through Bethlehem Steel,

But for the last twenty years we have found so many new ways to define ourselves.

We can be anything we want to be.

We are free to dream.

We are unBound!

In this “Festival UnBound,” we will come together for a week of celebration and exploration.

Celebration of this wonderful community,

And exploration of just what kind of a future we want for ourselves.

Throughout the week we will share our dreams of the future,

and then like. like a message in a balloon,

we will send our dreams out into the world,

because those dreams, our dreams, make a difference!

 

Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten