By Shirley O'Shea Contributing Writer
---- — The Smithy Center for the Arts, at 55 Pioneer St. in Cooperstown, is working year-round to fulfill its mission of bringing the arts to all members of the community, inviting them to be appreciators and creators of virtually all art forms, according to Danielle Newell, the Smithy’s executive director.
But summer 2013 has Newell especially excited.
“The performing arts are really a huge component of our summer season,” Newell said.
“I anticipate this being our best season yet,” she said.
Newell said that the arts center’s summer theatre offerings will be “bigger and better,” with the Smithy’s own Glimmer Globe Theatre Co. & Acting Studio mounting productions of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” a parody of the Bard’s plays written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, July 10 to 14; Wendy Wasserstein’s 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy/drama “The Heidi Chronicles,” July 19 to 20, and a theatrical adaptation of Daniel Keyes’ science fiction novel “Flowers for Algernon,” Aug. 23 to 25. All productions will take place at the Cooperstown Theatre Festival at 7163 state Highway 80.
Auditions are still available for several roles in “The Heidi Chronicles” and “Flowers for Algernon,” Newell said.
When selecting plays for performance by the Glimmer Globe, Newell said she and her fellow directors seek to present works that go beyond typical community theatre fare, that address timely issues and are “challenging and exciting” for audiences and performers.
The American Renaissance Theater Company, of Manhattan, will present two shows in its production “SummerWorks 2013” Aug. 16 to 18 at the Cooperstown Theatre Festival. According to its website, the ARTC supports theatre artists in their creative development.
For its second summer season, the Smithy will offer a Shakespeare Acting Intensive workshop Aug. 3 and 4 for teens and adults, giving community members an opportunity to learn about Elizabethan theatre and perform a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays. Also, Children’s Theatre Camp will be held Aug. 5 to 10. Newell said the camp program focuses on “creative dramatics” for younger children, and will include improvisational activities, with a showcase performance on Aug. 10.
The Shakespeare workshop and children’s camp will be part of the Smithy’s Community Play Festival, which takes place Aug. 10. Newell said the festival also will include a 24-hour program, from late Aug. 9 to Aug. 10. The program, open to the entire community — “whoever wants to be involved” — will have participants divided into “mini theatre companies” with a playwright, director and performers. The playwright will have 11 hours in which to write a 10-minute, one act play that will be rehearsed and performed the evening of Aug. 10.
“This is serious guerilla theatre,” Newell said, laughing.
The Smithy will offer another summer of music programming, Newell said. Monday night shows will include The John Gill Ensemble on July 1, Sirsy, July 8, Alpenglow and The Donny Brooks, July 15, Heaven’s Back Door, July 22, Sam Whedon & Friends (fundraiser), July 29, Cooperstown Big Band, Aug. 12, Bourbon & Branch and The Mountebank Bros., Aug. 19, and Erin Harkes Band, Aug. 26. The John Gill Ensemble and Cooperstown Big Band performances will be part of Smithy gallery openings with free admission. For other shows and ticket pricing, visit the Smithy’s website at www.smithyarts.org. All of the aforementioned shows will take place at 7 p.m. in the Smithy’s courtyard.
Additional music offerings include the Day to Night Club, a DJ dance party, on July 6 from 1 to 10 p.m., with free admission, and a children’s concert, “Earth Jams,” with Matt Loosigian, on Aug. 11 beginning at 3 p.m. The concert will be preceded by a recycling-themed arts and crafts activities session at 2 p.m.
The visual arts will continue to be a vital part of the Smithy’s summer programming, Newell said.
“Our (Smithy Pioneer) gallery is really the foundation of the Smithy,” Newell said. “I’m really so excited about (upcoming) exhibits.”
Summer 2013 will focus on the Smithy’s member artists, Newell said.
“For the first year, member artists are curating the shows of fellow member artists,” Newell said. “(We are) honoring our members and trying to involve them on every level.”
Three exhibits that will utilize all three of the Smithy Pioneer’s floors will be presented this season. “Person, Place, Thing” will be available through June 23. “Revisionary: Saturated Mindscapes” will be open July 1 through Aug. 1, and “Beyond the Blueprint” will be on view Aug. 12 through Sept. 15. Artwork inspired by the national hydrofracking debate, including paintings and installation art, will be part of the “Revisionary” exhibit, according to Newell. For information on curator-artists, visit the Smithy’s website.
In August, the Smithy Pioneer will feature an exhibit by local artist Nate Katz, Newell said.
The Katz show “explores a different perspective,” Newell said. Katz, who has autism, “has a methodical approach to his artwork that is really unique.”
The gallery has undergone extensive restoration and revisions, Newell said, with a “revamped” second floor that has increased exhibit space, a refurbished floor and newly exposed original brickwork.
“I’m so proud of all the work that we’ve been doing this past year,” Newell said.
Arts classes will continue this summer, Newell said.
“The pottery studio has become such a warm and welcoming home for people in the community,” Newell said. “They have so much fun and the work that they’re doing is incredible.”
Adult pottery classes are offered Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. See the Smithy’s website for times and instructor information. Open pottery studio is available Wednesdays through Saturdays. See the Smithy’s website for exact times and fee information.
For information on children’s and teen’s pottery classes, visit the Smithy’s website.
Fundraising activities are an important part of this summer’s programming, according to Newell. A new campaign involving the entire Smithy staff will begin this week, according to Newell, and an event, “Raise Your Stein to Support the Arts” is planned for July 29.
“We are on a completely upward trajectory,” Newell said. “We are gathering momentum by working closely with the community and businesses to create a place for the public to engage with the arts.”