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Too much fun?

Greenfield Spoken Word Festival; Double Take Fringe Festival; One Minute Fest — creativity shines on Greenfield this weekend

Take in a cutting-edge theater production in an empty storefront. Listen to an eclectic line-up of poets and spoken word artists from the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Watch one-minute videos on the big screen at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas. Now, do all that in one weekend — possibly in one night.

That’s what organizers have in store for you:

■ Paul Richmond will reprise the Greenfield Annual Word Festival for the fourth year, bringing over 60 readers a night to a variety of venues downtown Thursday, Oct. 17, through Saturday, Oct. 19, in downtown Greenfield. There will be showcase readings at the end of each night, at 9 p.m., in the banquet room of the Greenfield Grille, which is also the location of a book fair Sunday, 11 a.m. to
3 p.m.

■ The Double Take Fringe Festival will stage eight short theater performances in eight Greenfield venues on Friday and Saturday nights.

■ On Friday night, at 8 p.m., the One Minute Fest Greenfield airs HD videos at the Garden Cinemas. To see some of the videos submitted for this free, juried competition, go online to http://vimeo.com/groups/195864.

Is it possible this is too much for one weekend?

Double Take Fringe Festival organizer Linda McInerney laughs at the suggestion.

“It could be overload,” she said with glee. “I can’t wait to see that as a problem! Let’s look at that ice cream sundae that has maraschino cherries flying off the top: How bad can it be to have too much fun?”

“Greenfield is at this magical moment in its creative evolution where everything is possible,” McInerney continued. She described the weekend’s pairing of Greenfield’s under-utilized spaces with theatrical performers, videographers, poets and spoken word artists as, “a confluence of energies coming together that allow this kind of creative excitement to happen. I can’t imagine it happening anywhere else.”

McInerney and others stressed that the theater performances were made possible through the generosity of the Community Development Corporation’s John Waite and Mike Haley of Conway, who figured out logistics for each of the performance sites.

The theater offerings include one-man, intimate shows such as John Sheldon’s “Red Guitar” at the Red Door Bar on Ames Street, a two-person “impulse theater” piece by Jack Golden and Karen Montanro at The Pushkin, a one-act play by Checkov performed at The Arts Block and a performance at the First National Bank building on Bank Row that McInerney describes as, a “gorgeous circus imagination-based piece” that will be “crazy wonderful.”

“Everybody’s been staring at the outside of that building for 40 years and it’s gorgeous in there!” McInerney said, of the First National Bank building. “It’s perfect for theater.”

McInerney secured permission from Greenfield’s police and fire departments to set up tiered seating for 75 in the high-ceilinged, large open space of the bank’s interior. The space itself will be part of the performance, said Dagen Julty, one of three performers who make up Monkamok Theater Co.

Julty described the company’s “Moon Up by Morning” as “a play about the modern age seen through this lens of a clown’s-eye view.”

“We’re going to having props hanging from the rafters,” Julty said. “We’re going to be scaling ladders. We’re going to be traversing the existing walls. And (there will be) dramatic lighting in the whole space.”

Because each of the pieces in the Fringe Festival are only half an hour to forty-five minutes long and will be presented twice each evening, festival-goers can take in a number of them McInerney said. Tickets are $10 per night or $15 for the weekend and can be purchased online at www.doubletake.org or at The Greenfield Grille or on the Greenfield town common the nights of the festival.

“The thing that is so wonderfully exciting about this is that you can choose from eight different shows. They’re all wildly different. There’s something for everybody,” said McInerney.

GAWF organizer Paul Richmond agrees that the diversity of offerings is part of the weekend’s appeal.

“All three festivals are happening together in Greenfield, a town that is happening,” Richmond writes on GAWF’s website.

“It’s a real opportunity for people to go see one play or some videos, then go hear some poetry,” Richmond said. He envisions people meeting up with friends, wandering through downtown Greenfield, having a bite to eat and enjoying the various cultural offerings, a vision that sounds a bit like Halloween night for grown-ups.

“This year I have six venues on Thursday, seven venues on Friday, and then I have 10 venues on Saturday — with six to seven poets at each of those,” Richmond said.

GAWF is starting to be on the national radar, he added, drawing writers such as Marcie Eanes, a journalist and poet from Wisconsin whose work has appeared in major magazines; “The Mighty Third Rail,” an award-winning New York-based trio that mixes hip-hop poetry, beat boxing, violin and upright bass; and three Sengalese poets who go by the name “Bideew Bou Bess.”

But Richmond is careful to stress that GAWF is also a celebration of our area’s local talent and a chance for “cross-pollination between the near and the far.”

Local acts will include Leo Hwang Carlos, a poet and head of the Humanities Department at Greenfield Community College; forester Mike Mauri performing with Rob Skelton and Pitchfork; Tony Vacca; Laura Rodley; Mary Clare Powell; Slate Roof poets and others. GAWF performances are free, except for the 9 p.m. shows at the Greenfield Grille, for which admission is a $3 to $15 donation.

Sunday’s book fair, a new addition this year, is a chance for people to “Schmooze and have brunch, try out the Greenfield Grille’s different offerings, come support local writers, talk about how the festival went and give ideas for next year,” Richmond said.

McInerney shared Richmond’s sense of the festivals as evolving creations. “Let’s just try it,” she said, of the weekend’s jam-packed program. “If it’s a splat in the face, what a great way to go down!”

Trish Crapo is a writer and photographer who lives in Leyden. She can be reached at tcrapo@me.com.

Staff photographer Paul Franz has worked for The Recorder since 1988. He can be reached at pfranz@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 266. His website is www.franzphoto.com.

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