Cleese farce brings Astin to Shadowland

ELLENVILLE--Shadowland Stages is gearing up for what's being described as an "absurdly wild comedy" by one of the world masters of farce.

John Cleese, the British humorist behind "Monty Python" and "A Fish Called Wanda," brings his latest comedy "Bang Bang!," to Shadowland, where it will make its American premiere from Aug. 10-Sept. 9.

Those behind it say the audience should prepare for deep belly laughs as accomplished actors like Sean Astin of "Lord of the Rings" fame and Scott Shepherd, who appeared in "Bridge of Spies" and "Side Effects," bring Cleese’s far-out farce to life.

According to veteran director James Glossman, the play centers on "puncturing the pretensions of the wealthy and privileged" in French society. Cleese based it on the lesser-known "Monsieur Chasse!" by French playwright Georges Feydeau.

Brendan Burke, Shadowland's producing artistic director, said "Bang Bang!" represents a "major landmark" for the Ellenville playhouse, establishing it as an up-and-coming place for artists to share and refine new works.

Tickets are $31 for the preview8 p.m. Aug. 10 and 2 p.m. Aug. 11; $39 for all other evening shows. Tickets for Sunday matinee performances are $34. At the first Saturday matinee, Shadowland is pairing with the nearby Tony and Nick's Italian Kitchen for a combined dinner and show at $40.

Info at 647-5511 or

Artist to unveil solo show

NEW PALTZ – Roost Gallery offers many artistic experiences, from poetry readings to concerts to art shows. But a new solo exhibit opening this month, features the work of the gallery’s founder, Marcy Bernstein.

Her show, entitled, “Sensual Surfaces: Windows, Walls and Doors Explored,” opens Aug. 18 and runs through Sept. 9. An opening reception will be held 6-8 p.m. Aug. 18.

Bernstein, a New Paltz resident since 1986, and a longtime art teacher in the Newburgh public school system, credits a life-threatening accident as the impetus for the creation of Roost, a cooperative studio and gallery.

An avid bicyclist, long-distance runner and proficient rock climber, Bernstein says she nearly died after a bicycle accident on a sunny August day two years ago. “I underwent numerous surgeries to reconstruct my face and jaw and implant new teeth for the eleven that were never found,” Bernstein says.

It was during her “long and painful recovery” that she eventually found her new path. While "thinking about what was important to me, I began to map out the germ of an idea to create an arts community in New Paltz like none other. ...One morning, quite by accident (as usual), I stumbled upon a gorgeous, sun-drenched second floor vacant space with polished wood floors in the heart of Main Street, New Paltz. The landlord turned out to be generous and had an artist’s spirit in his heart. As an experiment, and with no ability to pay rent, we invited would-be members to the space, and Roost Studios and Art Gallery was born, named for the iconic “Bandit’s Roost” photograph by Nineteenth Century photographer Jacob Riis.”

Roost Studio and Art Gallery, 69 Main St., 2nd floor, New Paltz,, 419-2208.


Faludi to speak at Readers, Writers Fest

MILFORD, PA. – Pulitzer Prize-winning feminist writer Sudan Faludi will participate in a conversation about her new book “In the Darkroom” at the Milford Readers & Writers Festival on Sept. 29. Faludi will be sharing her story with Carol Jenkins, an Emmy-winning anchor and correspondent for NBC-TV and former TV anchor.

When Faludi learned that her 76-year-old father – whom she hadn’t seen for decades – had undergone a sex change, she set out to find out more about her haunted family saga and actually meet “her.” Along the way she was forced to question her own beliefs about the meaning of gender.

The festival runs Sept. 28-30. Opening night features a screening of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and a conversation with Mary Badham, who played Scout as a child actor in the 1962 film.

Besides ticketed events, the festival offers a slate of free programming and events, including storytelling, children's and young adult events and a panel for parents. More info at


Costume exhibit at historic site

HUDSON – An exhibit of clothing from the Middle East, collected by artist Frederic Church during his travels there in 1867-68, is currently on display at Olana, Church’s home. Church is recognized as America’s first international star, and was a central figure in the Hudson River School of American landscape painters.

The exhibit - “Costume & Custom: Middle Eastern Threads at Olana” - presents the clothing alongside drawings, sketches and paintings inspired by Church’s travels and explores their relationship to cultural identity and identity as it relates to clothing and the body. The exhibition takes place in Church’s “Persian-style” home amidst the magnificent 250-acre landscape of Church’s design.

Contemporary artists of Arab and Islamic descent will be interpreting the exhibit, drawing on their own perspectives, as they react to and engage with this never-before-seen part of Church’s collection. Upcoming tours take place on nine Saturdays through Dec. 1. The next three tours and participating artists are: Aug. 4: Lara Atallah; Aug. 25: Umber Majeed; Sept. 1: Stephan Said. Each tour begins at 5 p.m. and lasts about an hour, followed by an optional discussion.

Olana State Historic Site offers exhibitions, tours and other events throughout the year.


Trees that speak

WARWICK – If you’ve noticed trees in the Village of Warwick dressed up with pithy statements and dangling jewelry it’s because local artist Pat Foxx has undertaken an inspirational project.

“Last year our village trees were decorated with knitting and crocheting under the banner: Knitting Warwick Together. This year our trees are speaking to us with inspirational words,” Foxx says. Local artists are creating the hanging sculptures that will decorate the trees on Main Street and Railroad Avenue.

Foxx says she hope the art will inspire folks to write poems and she invites people of all ages to submit their own poetry based on the hangings to her at Come this fall, poets will be invited to read their work at Milkweed Gallery in Sugar Loaf. Prizes will be awarded.

Wickham Works, a nonprofit that helps promote local artists, is sponsoring this art installation.