One Sweet Fest: Piti Theatre Company returns March 18 and 19 with eighth annual event

  • This year’s festival will feature a solo performance by Piti Theater’s Jonathan Mirin. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Jonathan Mirin of Piti Theater performs in the Orange Town Hall. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Piti Theater will also hold its world premiere of “Sammy and the Grand Buffet,” a solo performance by Piti’s Jonathan Mirin. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Jonathan Mirin of Piti Theater performs in the Orange Town Hall. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Piti Theater will also hold its world premiere of “Sammy and the Grand Buffet,” a solo performance by Piti’s Jonathan Mirin. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/8/2017 2:28:32 PM

GREENFIELD — With spring just around the corner and maple sugaring season in full swing, Piti Theatre Company will return March 18 and 19 with its eighth annual SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival.

Celebrating spring, sap and the arts at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls, this year’s festival will feature two-time Grammy winner Bill Harley performing his stories with local children. Piti Theater will also hold its world premiere of “Sammy and the Grand Buffet,” a solo performance by Piti’s Jonathan Mirin. Syrup tasting and clowning workshops for children and adults round out next weekend.

“Part of the goal of the festival is to keep the tradition of live performance at Memorial Hall alive — not just for the sake of doing that, but creating a cultural event that can be a draw for all the people outside of our region who are coming up to the sugar houses. Maybe they’ll also see there’s a cultural life here after the pancakes,” Mirin said.

The festival kicks off March 18 with “Sammy and the Grand Buffet” at 2 p.m. The solo performance was developed over the past three years by Mirin and his wife, Godeliève Richard, who founded Piti Theater. Mirin said, in a way, the play was a direct result of “Innocenzo,” Piti’s comedic performance about a clown who moves to a city in Switzerland and becomes sick from electromagnetic pollution. Because they had such a good time working on that performance, Mirin said he and his wife decided to create another physical comedy.

“We also feel like to go to the theater and see someone like a clown trying to overcome obstacles and succeeding is a positive thing for the audience in a more subconscious way,” he said. 

In “Sammy and the Grand Buffet,” Mirin’s character receives a list from his boss of things to do to get the restaurant he works in ready for a grand buffet. But there’s one problem — the list is written in French and Sammy is American. Forty magic, music and accident-filled minutes later, two audience members are invited onstage to partake in the meal. 

“There are health benefits to laughter, and there’s also something about seeing a clown or anyone on stage fighting to overcome various obstacles — in the clown’s case, the obstacles are mainly physical, which kind of gives people confidence to fight their own fight and overcome their own obstacles,” Mirin said.

He added that because the play is physical and not heavily language-based, it will be easy to tour in other countries — which Piti Theater plans to do following the premiere.

Syrup tasting, free Real Pickles, and a Red Sox ticket raffle will follow the performance during an hour-long intermission. Singer-songwriter Carrie Ferguson will also perform a song celebrating spring and nature along with Piti Theatre’s Shelburne Falls Youth Troupe and Ballet Renversé.

Two-time Grammy winner Bill Harley plays the festival on March 18 at 4 p.m., performing his own set and narrating two of his stories performed by the youth troupe. Mirin said a town in one of those stories — “Town Around the Bend” — will be reimagined as one of the hilltowns.

Harley is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and an NPR commentator. His songs and stories paint a vibrant and humorous picture of growing up, schooling and family life.

Two acting and physical comedy/clowning workshops led by Mirin round out the festival on March 19. A free workshop for children ages 7 to 12 begins at 2 p.m., and an adult workshop for ages 13 and up begins at 3:30 p.m.

Festival tickets are $15 for adults; $12 for students/seniors; $5 for children 12 and under.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: http://ptco.org/shows/syrup. Tickets are also available at Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls, World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield, by calling 800-838-3006 and at the door on March 18 starting at 1 p.m.




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