Ko Festival

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Country and Region United StatesMassachusetts
Type of Festival Drama
Location of Festival Amherst, Massachusetts USA
Festival Contact Information

Ko Festival
Ko Theater Works, Inc.
P. O. Box 137
Amherst, MA 01004 USA
Email: sabrina@kofest.com

Festival Description

The Ko Festival of Performance is a not-to-be-missed event for a devoted core of audience members who eagerly await each new season. Each year it is curated around a theme designed to speak to Festival audiences. Performances by a diverse group of artists that include local, national and international performers. All the shows are original pieces, created by the people who perform them and their teams of collaborators. Artistic Director Sabrina Hamilton explains, “It’s the theatrical equivalent of the singer-songwriter trend in music. Rather than a slate of summer theatre chestnuts, we’ve got a fresh summer season of high theatricality by artists who have a lot of tricks up their sleeves – including outrageous humor, puppets, juggling and images of uncanny beauty.”

Theatre professionals and audience members alike have lauded the depth of the audience experiences at Ko. Each performance is accompanied by lobby displays that contextualize the work, and many audience members enrich their experience by staying for the discussions that follow every show. Hamilton comments, “After performances, audiences are so eager to share their thoughts and experiences. There is an amazing level of engagement. The show becomes a lens to help focus the discussion on the season theme. The discussion is yes, artist/audience, but post-shows quickly become opportunities for lively community dialogue. After all, we are in Amherst, famous for being the town “where only the ‘h’ is silent.”

The Ko Festival also hosts a series of workshops taught by master teachers are adept at gearing their classes for participants of ALL levels of experience, whose ages have run from 18 - 85. Participants, who include both local residents and those who come to Amherst from throughout the US, find these classes an opportunity to stretch their creativity in a supportive environment.

Festival Dates July 15 - August 3, 2013
Festival Links http://www.kofest.com/

Festival Events:

Season lineup 2013:
  • July 5-7, Fri. & Sat, at 8:00pm, Sun. at 4::00pm
    • Just Kids
      Sean Christopher Lewis (Iowa City)
      The funny, true story by Lewis, a gifted raconteur, performer with 1000 voices, and frequent contributor to This American Life; playing all the roles himself in a mix tape style described by one reviewer as “a 1-man NPR.”
      Tickets: $20 Adults / $16 Student/Senior
      Venue: Holden Theater, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
  • July 12-14, Fri. & Sat. at 8:00pm, Sun. at 4:00pm
    • Spaceman
      Loading Dock (NYC)
      The depths of mankind’s last unknown frontiers - outer space and a grieving heart - are explored in this brave & funny play about a courageous woman’s one-way, solo journey to Mars.
      Tickets: $20 Adult / $16 Student/Senior
      Venue: Holden Theater, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
  • July 14, Sun. at 8:00pm SPECIAL EVENT - One night only!
    • Taliesin
      Mettawee River Theatre Company (NYC)
      Based on a medieval Welsh tale of sorcery & intrigue, with live music, exquisite puppets & movement out under the stars. Rain date 7/15. Tickets: $8 Adults / $6 Children under 12.
      Venue: Outdoors on Amherst College Observatory Lawn, off Snell Street, Amherst, MA
  • July 26-28 Fri. & Sat. at 8:00pm, Sun. at 4:00pm
    • Conversations With My Molester: A Journey Of Faith
      Michael Mack (Cambridge, MA)
      Like many Catholic boys in the 1960s, Mack wanted to be a priest. That dream ended at age 11… A poetic & suspenseful evocation of Mack’s courage to wrestle with disturbing questions about sexuality & spirituality.
      Tickets: $20 Adults / $16 Student/Senior
      Venue: Holden Theater, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
  • July 28 at 8:00pm ONE NIGHT ONLY!
    • Kofest Story Slam & Party
      Heard of poetry slams? Competitive poetry events? This is one for first person, true stories ­told live, without notes. All related to our season theme of COURAGE. We’ll have some ringers, but visit kofest.com to see how you can participate. Coaching available! Cash bar & prizes!
      Tickets: $15
      Venue: Holden Theater, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
  • August 2-4 Fri. & Sat, at 8:00pm, Sun. at 4:00pm
    • Meditations From A Garden Seat
      Judy Dworin Performance Project (Hartford)
      A stunning dance/theater hybrid on the healing power of gardens, stemming from an essay by Harriet Beecher Stowe + material by contemporary women in or just out of prison.
      Tickets: $20 Adults / $16 Student/Senior
      Venue: Holden Theater, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
Workshop — July 15 – 20, 2013:
  • SHADOW PUPPETRY: exploring the theater of shadow & light, with Stephen Kaplin of Chinese Theatre Works and Great Small Works (NYC)
    This workshop is an introduction to the theory, history and practice of Shadow theater – led by Stephen Kaplin, one of North America’s leading practitioners of this ancient art form. The dynamic interplay of the various elements of shadow performance— light source, filter, lens, image in motion and focal surface– will be explored in all their complexities. Subjects will include:
    • The physical properties of light and shadow
    • Material interaction with light—opacity, translucence, refraction, reflection and iridescence.
    • Traditional and contemporary shadow figure design and construction
    • Techniques of projection and pre-cinematic motion picture performance techniques
    • Workshop participants will design and construct shadow figures, masks and scenic projections (for overhead projectors and direct screen) to be part of a collectively conceived theatrical performance that will be presented to an invited audience.
Workshop — July 22 – 27, 2013:
  • GENERATING NEW MATERIAL, with Daniel Stein Director of Movement & Physical Theatre for the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Theatre MFA Professional Actor Training Program (Providence)
    Give your imagination a whack on the side of the head! Discover concrete ways to get beyond “STUCK” when you are creating new work. Learn ways to think, see and create outside the box. This is a hands-on workshop in generating new material dealing with the emotions of shape, the excitement of rhythm and finding ideas from untapped and unconventional sources.
    • The “Technique” aspect is a training in juggling the juxtaposition of the physical world on stage and the metaphysical world that the audience will eventually take home with them. The ‘Heart’ part deals with concrete tools to finding permission within oneself for creating outrageous, new work. You, the artist, will leave with concrete ideas and a running start at building your next project.
    • This work is great for Performers, Directors, Teachers and anyone else looking for freedom and empowerment in their creativity.
Live Stream Event / Workshop — July 28, 2013:
  • WEB-STREAMING LIVE PERFORMANCE: amplify your community & create national dialogue, with Jamie Gahlon of HowlRound: The Center for the Theater Commons (Boston, MA)
    This one-day workshop, facilitated by Jamie Gahlon of HowlRound: A Center for the Theater Commons, will give participants a basic understanding to a commons-based approach to technology, followed by a practical, hands-on livestreaming lab that will culminate with a #NEWPLAY TV events featuring a KoFest performances and a talkback.
    • The morning will begin with a discussion about how live-streaming video of an event can be used to amplify community & create national dialogue. This will be followed by hands-on training before live-streaming the Ko Festival performance of Michael Mack’s CONVERSATIONS WITH MY MOLESTER and the subsequent post-show discussion. After a change to learn from that first experience, students will get a second crack at it by live-streaming Ko’s Story Slam – a night of competitive true, first person stories on our season theme of “Courage.”
Workshop — July 29 – August 3, 2013:
  • THEATER OF PLACE: Community Sourced Work from Documentary Materials, Story Circles & other Listening Techniques, with Gerard Stropnicky, co-founder of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble and USA Artists Fellow & director of more than 30 “Theatre of Place” productions (Bloomsburg, PA)
    • Learn skills to work with communities to create compelling theatre that sets the stage for community dialogue and positive change. In the workshop we will actively explore the elements that give this work its power and legitimacy: AGENCY, ARTISTRY, AUTHENTICITY, AUDACITY, ACCURACY and ADVOCACY.
    • We will work on developing interview skills—how to gather story and an understanding of the legality and ethics of working with human subjects. The workshop will draw on the work of the late Jo Carson, Stropnicky’s long-time creative partner, as well as other practitioners of this kind of work, and will culminate with a showing. This is Gerard’s 3rd project at the Ko Festival of Performance.


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Slideshow photo credits:
  • In order of appearance
    • Ashton Applewhite, Staying Verticle - Age, Aging and Agism in America
    • Just Kids, Sean Christopher Lewis
    • Kali Quinn
    • Sandglass Theater, Bud


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