The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Three Fundraising Performances for Serious Play / Edinburgh Fringe Performance Exchange

WHAT: Three Fundraising Performances for Serious Play / Edinburgh Fringe Performance Exchange
Friday April 27, 8PM, Shea Theater in Turners Falls
Saturday May 12, 8PM, Gateway City Arts in Holyoke
Friday June 1st, 8PM, Hallie Flanagan Theater, Smith College in Northampton

An international exchange of compelling performances. Taking work of inspiring Valley performers to the Fringe festival every August, and bringing back bold and authentic work for local audiences.

Tickets: In advance at ($15 Seniors & Students / $18
General Public, $20 at the door )

Time: Each show is 50 mins with an intermission in between
Additional information: or call 413-588-7439

The Serious Play Edinburgh Fringe Performance Exchange:
That's our focus going forward; work with Western Mass artists to bring high quality performances to Scotland and select dynamic new work there to bring back to the Valley. It started by taking The Red Guitar to Scotland in 2016 and we returned with Mairi Campbell's PULSE and Nassim Soleimanpour's White Rabbit Red Rabbit. We are headed back this year and will need regional support to keep up the momentum. Your help is most appreciated.

Serious Play is taking John Sheldon's The Red Guitar back to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the month of August. After a 5-Star review in 2016 from The Herald, a return was only a matter of time.

Eager to bring even more talent from Western Mass to the world stage in Scotland, Serious Play will also produce DO IT NOW at the Fringe Festival this August. Tony Vacca (percussion) and Paul Richmond (spoken word) will join John Sheldon in a new piece called Manual Override.

A Project of Cultural Images Group, Inc
Phone 413-586-1438 or e-mail
More Info:

Serious Play Theatre Ensemble presents the two shows going to the August 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival:

John Sheldon’s The Red Guitar directed by Sheryl Stoodley
A virtuoso guitarist, a red Stratocaster, a life in sound

In 2016, The Red Guitar struck the right chord in Scotland, earning a coveted 5-star
review with The Herald’s highly respected music reviewer Rob Adams and has been
invited to return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August. His candy apple red Fender
Stratocaster in hand, John takes us on a trip, careening through the rise of guitar music in
the nuclear age, from Folk through Blues and Rock, to a vision of the future in which the
past is vibrantly alive, a heartfelt yet unsentimental performance. Just when you think you
are seeing a deconstruction of popular music, you sense something else taking place, a
quickening, an awakening of senses long lost, a reclaiming of sounds you thought were
consigned to history. Something unexpected is being made right in front of you, a sound
loop sculpture plucking chords of your memory.

John, a master guitarist who played lead in Van Morrison's band at the age of 17, wrote songs for James Taylor, unknowingly drew praise from Jimi Hendrix, and whom Ed Ward
of National Public Radio called "One of the great guitarists of our time," uses a unique blend of storytelling, unearthly sounds, and wicked, layered guitar licks, to send us zipping
through the folds of time and space, emerging into the light of a simple, transformative
melody. John's ironclad belief in the power of sound pervades the whole performance, the
conviction that music is not just entertainment, but a soul saving enterprise, worthy of the
lifelong commitment he has made to it. His technical skill never overwhelms the story, the
poignant, the humorous, the moments of connection, of illumination. The journey
continues, setting a course to the center of who we truly are: vibration.

Artistic Director, Sheryl Stoodley:
I have collaborated with John on many Serious Play productions over the past 10 years. He does not use music, he is music. It is this rare sense of connection and assurance that drives his creative gift.

In the same evening, Serious Play also presents:
DO IT NOW: Manual Override directed by Sheryl Stoodley

Three master artists collaborating with a mutual message for change

Danger!! Danger!! Systems are being corrupted or broken. A crash surely lies ahead. No
time to waste. We must take back control! Do It Now. Manual Override. Pulling the
controls together are John Sheldon on electric guitar, Tony Vacca on all things percussion,
and Paul Richmond’s beguiling William S. Burroughs-like spoken word. The trio takes on
anything from the mundane envy for a neighbor’s dog to nuclear power posturing to
interracial tension, turning them into poetic flashes of text that erupt from a hotbed of
music. Non-verbal communications on stage, based in trust and intuition between masters
at their craft, creates theatrical moments with authentic music interwoven with Richmond’s
text. An evening of food for the mind as well as the soul.

The Trio includes:
John Sheldon - (Who you know from The Red Guitar)

Paul Richmond – Named as current Beat Poet Laureate of Massachusetts by the
National Beat Poetry Foundation, Paul is best described as political, deadpan and wryly
humorous with his own unique style. He has been called, “Assassin of Apathy” using the
power of words and humor to tackle the unthinkable and seemingly unsolvable, giving birth to creativity and hope. Paul has performed on stages from the Austin International Poetry Festival, in Austin TX, to Gödör Klubban at the Jazzköltexzetiest in Budapest, Hungary. He is widely published in books, journals, anthologies, and poetry collections. His Human Error Publishing promotes Word events and festivals and publishes books.

Tony Vacca -- An innovative percussionist with Jazz and World Music roots going back to
1972. Over the course of his career, he has made a habit of pushing the already
adventurous conventions of World Music into new territory, both as a soloist and as the
leader of his World Rhythms Ensemble. He is part of a wave of musicians whose work has
fueled the rediscovery of the power of the drum, and the power of music to build global
common ground. His twenty-one trips to West Africa have contributed to his unique
approach to playing the balafon, and to his depth of knowledge regarding African and
American musical traditions. He has recorded and/or performed with such a wide range of
musicians including pop icon Sting, Senegalese Afro-pop star Baaba Maal, Jazz trumpeter
and World Music legend Don Cherry, poet Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets,
Senegalese Hip-Hop stars Bideew Bou Bess, as well as Gokh-bi System, and Massamba
Diop, Senegalese master of the tama or talking drum.

Serious Play Theatre Ensemble is based in Northampton,
Massachusetts USA, where it was founded over 25 years ago. The company works to create a dynamic integration of theatre, movement and text, and has a history of engagement with ensemble-created scripts that are informed by contemporary issues. Productions have toured to NYC and Boston, and to Athens, London, Edinburgh and to the JoakimInterFest in Kragujevac, Serbia, where its production of the politically charged Milosevic at the Hague, won an international award for “dramatic innovation and theatrical boldness”. Serious Play is a member of NET, the Network of Ensemble Theaters, and an Artist Associate with A.P.E. @ 33 Hawley St., a partner with the Northampton Community Arts Trust.

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