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.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ilan Stavans in THE OVEN at Ko Festival of Performance

WHAT: The Ko Festival of Performance Presents Scholar Ilan Stavans on an Unexpected Journey in the Oven.
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14 at 8:00 PM and Sunday, July 15 at 1:30 PM
WHERE: Holden Theater, Amherst College campus in Amherst, MA

AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS–“How does a mild-mannered scholar/writer/professor become a jaguar, kill and eat a deer?” raves Connie Congdon, playwright and author of Tales of the Lost Formicans, after seeing Ilan Stavan’s impulsive and transformative journey in THE OVEN. Ko Festival of Performance continues a season of “Radical Acts” with this humorous and poignant solo performance. THE OVEN will be performed July 13-15 in the Holden Theater at Amherst College.

On a State Department sponsored lecture tour of Latin American, internationally renowned public intellectual Ilan Stavans suddenly goes AWOL. A chance meeting with a shaman in Colombia sends Stavans into the Amazon rainforest, where he reluctantly agrees to participate in a religious ceremony that involves taking the hallucinogen ayahuasca. Even though he considered himself a skeptic and a rational intellectual, as someone whose worldview was defined by his education and his heritage as a Mexican Jew, Stavans finds that the ritual pushes him to reconsider many of his basic understandings, including his perceptions of indigenous cultures in Latin America, as well as his career as teacher, thinker, and artist.

This one-person show is delivered as an anti-lecture that mimics the author’s startling spiritual journey. “A compelling piece of stagecraft that documents the inner and outer workings of a mind on a narcotic trip, but it also documents the uncanny and serendipitous curiosity of a literature professor.”—William A. Nericcio, editor of Homer from Salinas: John Steinbeck’s Enduring Voice for California

KoFest performances take place in Amherst College’s air-conditioned Holden Theater, located behind the Admissions Office off South Pleasant Street in Amherst, MA. Tickets are priced at: $22 Adults / $18 Students & Seniors and $10 for SNAP/EBT cardholders. Call about a limited number of $8 tickets. Tickets are available at, by email at, and by phone at (413) 542-3750. The box office phone line is staffed daily from 1-5 and 1 to curtain on performance days.

About Ilan Stavans
Ilan Stavans (Author/Performer) one of today’s preeminent essayists, cultural critics, and translators, is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College.

A native from Mexico, he received his Doctorate in Latin American Literature from Columbia University. His work, adapted to radio, TV, and film has been translated into fifteen languages. He himself has translated Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda into English, Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson into Spanish, Isaac Bashevis Singer from the Yiddish, Yehuda Halevi from the Hebrew, and Don Quixoteinto Spanglish.

Stavans’ books include The Hispanic Condition(HarperCollins, 1995), On Borrowed Words(Viking, 2001), Spanglish(HarperCollins, 2003), Dictionary Days(Graywolf, 2005), The Disappearance(TriQuarterly, 2006), Love and Language(Yale, 2007), Resurrecting Hebrew(Nextbook, 2008), Mr. Spic Goes to Washington(Soft Skull, 2008), and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years (Palgrave, 2010).

More information about Ilan Stavans available at

About The Ko Festival 
The Ko Festival of Performance, in its 27th summer season on the Amherst College campus, is a perennially popular summer experience in Western Massachusetts, featuring five weeks of theatrical performances, the KoFest Story Slam, and three 6-day intensive theater workshops. Unlike standard summer stock theater, Ko Festival performances are all original, devised pieces, created by distinguished professional solo and ensemble theatre artists from across the U.S.  Each year, the performances at Ko are curated around a theme designed speak to area audiences. This year it’s “RADICAL ACTS” and audiences will have an opportunity to meet a group of 60’s radicals, hear true tales of going AWOL in the jungle, examining one’s relationship with the planet and the courage to create. Lively post-performance discussions, often with guest experts, follow each of the performances.

The Ko Festival, where the only certainty is surprise!


Funded, in part, by The Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, the Amherst Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts/Valley Gives, and Art Angels.

Photographs can be found in the Dropbox folder linked here

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