‘6 Feet Apart, All Together’ at Double Edge Theater

  • While Broadway performances are canceled at least until the new-year, Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield has found a way to keep the show running with “6 Feet  Apart, All Together,” performing July 22 to Aug. 9. Courtesy Photo

  • “6 Feet Apart, All Together” draws from and is inspired by the rich history of the theater company and favorite moments from past performances. The performance also includes an ode to nature and the current living culture. Courtesy Photo/Jeffrey M. Lewis

  • Double Edge Theatre Co-Founder Stacy Klein said the “physically distant, socially together” Summer Spectacle will be performed in rounds to allow for less than 10 people per group. The small groups of people will wander through the beauty and serenity of the farm where the artwork and the environment combine through the small scenic elements and storytelling by the ensemble. Courtesy Photo/Maria Baranova

  • “6 Feet Apart, All Together” draws from and is inspired by the rich history of the theater company and favorite moments from past performances. The performance also includes an ode to nature and the current living culture. Courtesy Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 7/16/2020 8:43:00 AM

While Broadway performances are canceled until at least the new year, Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield has found a way to keep the show running, while keeping audiences six feet apart.

According to co-artistic director Jennifer Johnson, Double Edge has been planning “6 Feet Apart, All Together” as a Summer Spectacle performance for the time of COVID-19 for the last few months. The performance draws from and is inspired by the rich history of the theater company and favorite moments from past performances. The performance also includes an ode to nature and the current living culture.

“Amidst the difficult and heart-wrenching news relating to the effects of COVID-19 on our way of life, and the disheartening lack of ethical leadership guiding us, it feels necessary to acknowledge those who are stepping up and showing the spirit of community which can re-define and redirect our course,” said Double Edge Founder and Artistic Director Stacy Klein. “We have seen that even in disaster, the people in our constellation are ethical, sensitive and creative.”

Performances will begin July 22 and will be held Wednesday to Sunday at 8 p.m. From Aug. 1 to Aug. 9, the performances will be held Wednesday to Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Saturday matinees will be held at 1 p.m. for the duration of the run.

Klein said they are working on the ‘physically distant, socially together’ Summer Spectacle with “excitement and trepidation.”

“6 Feet Apart, All Together” will be performed in rounds to allow for less than 10 people per group. She said the small groups of people will wander through the beauty and serenity of the farm where the artwork and the environment combine through the small scenic elements and storytelling by the ensemble.

“We see that it is possible to move though these times 6 feet apart and all together,” Klein said. “We are moved and humbled by the many, many examples of those around us, and by the spirit we find in each other.”

Located on a large farm, Double Edge Theatre annually holds Summer Spectacle performances that use the land and see the audience moving to different locations on the property. Johnson said the farm allows for limited audiences to spread out on a reflective and invigorating walk through scenes in the air, in the labyrinth, by the stream, the arbor and in the garden. Visitors will interact with the land and visual installations as they enjoy small scenes from past performances, as well as a look toward what the theater company is creating in the future.

Scenes included in “6 Feet Apart, All Together” are reinventing scenes from previous performances, including last year’s Summer Spectacle “I am The Baron” as well as “The Odyssey” and “Leonora's World,” among others Another part of the performance is inspired by “The Bockeye,” a play that Johnson said the theater company will perform in the future. Johnson described the performance as a mosaic of scenes across the property that take audience members into specific, episodic worlds.

While Johnson said this year’s experience may be different for the audience and performers, with smaller crowds and limited showtimes, Johnson said they are grateful to put on a show. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the theater company was in the beginning days of a national and international tour. Unfortunately, the public health emergency forced them to cancel the rest of the tour.

“A lot of us landed at home during the lockdown situation, and we were left wondering how to proceed,” Johnson said.

She said there was an outpouring of support from the community of Ashfield and surrounding hilltown residents. Working alongside local health professionals, Johnson said the company developed a plan for a summer spectacle and “6 Feet Apart, All Together” was born. 

“We realized quickly that if it was possible to offer something this summer, we really wanted to do so as an act of gratitude and to thank those who support us and come out every year,” Johnson said.

To make the summer project possible, Double Edge Theatre is raising money to further develop the outdoors areas of its farm. They will receive a dollar-for-dollar match from the Mass Development’s Commonwealth Places program. According to the theater company’s newsletter, all of these developments will be completed with “an eye toward” sustainability and local materials and plants.

In a recent newsletter, the theater company said it was creating this summer project as an offering to our audience and also to the town of Ashfield and the surrounding hilltowns, as they together confront the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and the necessity of ‘art justice’ at this particular time. Since its founding in 1982, Double Edge has created art based on the identities and background of the artists involved in the performance creation. As the ensemble has grown and transformed from an urban performance laboratory to a rural based center of living culture and collaborative for multidisciplinary arts and culture, so has the idea of identity and background.

In the past year Double Edge formally created an Art Justice board, composed of an international ensemble and nine long-term collaborators from African American, Latinx, Native American, Asian and LGBT communities. According to the theater company’s website, members are engaged in various projects focused on access, equity, and inclusion in the local, rural area, and in communities around the country.

At the same time, they have worked to create a dedicated space with primacy for Native American youth programming and an Emerging Artist Studio dedicated to performance development by underserved artists, with a particular focus on rural, working class and/or African American artists. They are also working toward an exchange program to facilitate access for disabled people to participate in the growing art culture. Art Justice at Double Edge is a commitment to transforming the way in which communities build a living culture.

“Art justice is built into the entire fabric of Double Edge’s way of life, from training to performance to programming to our connection to our community and to the environment, and is helping us see a way of establishing a truly creative future,” reads the theater’s website.

Double Edge Theatre, an artist-run organization, was founded in Boston in 1982 by Klein as a feminist ensemble and laboratory of actors’ creative process. In 1994, Double Edge moved from Boston to a 105-acre former dairy farm in rural Ashfield to create a sustainable artistic home. Today, ‘The Farm,’ as it’s called, is a base for the ensemble’s international touring and community spectacles, with year-round theater training, performance exchange and conversations.

The theater’s facilities include two performance and training spaces, production facilities, offices, archives, music room and five outdoor performance areas, as well as an animal barn, vegetable gardens and two additional properties: housing in the center of town for resident artists and an artist’s studio, giving primacy to African American and Latinx artists; and a design house, with design offices, studios, costume shop and storage for sets, costumes and props.

In accordance with travel advisories from Massachusetts and in consideration for the health and safety of the community, Double Edge Theatre encourages those traveling from outside New England to strictly self-quarantine for 14 days before arriving to Ashfield, or to consider joining them at a future performance season when interstate travel is safe.

For more information, visit doubleedgetheatre.org.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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