July 18–31 on the Hampshire College Campus in Amherst, MA
The Ko Festival of Performances’ 31st—and final—season will include two productions curated around the theme of “Stepping Up / Stepping Back,” plus a Story Slam and the return of a favorite Personal Narrative workshop. This season’s events will take place on the Hampshire College campus, with indoor events in the air-conditioned Mainstage Theatre in Emily Dickinson Hall, and an outdoor event that will begin with a guided walk from Emily Dickinson Hall to an outdoor performance site at the Hampshire College Farm Center.
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 to speak to area audiences. Lively post-performance discussions, often with guest experts, follow each of the performances.
KoFest Artistic Director Sabrina Hamilton says, “It has been an extraordinary 31-year run. I feel so proud of all we have achieved—the works presented, the hundreds of artists whose creations, careers and development processes we’ve supported, the training opportunities, the themes we’ve engaged, and all the meaningful conversations arising out of the work. So many of the Festival’s interns have gone on to extraordinary careers—their ranks include Jamilla Deria, Executive Director of the Fine Arts Center at UMASS, and Cheyenne Cohn-Postell, Equity and Inclusion Officer for the Mass Cultural Council.”
Hamilton continues, “the reasons for ending the Festival are myriad. The murder of George Floyd and the vital conversations it engendered in the national theatre community were a catalyst for the decision to ‘step up by stepping down.’ As our opening production puts it, it’s time to ‘make room for someone else.’ During the height of Covid, when the ability to present was so curtailed, I found new joy in turning my focus to training and supporting others as they developed into self-presenting artists. Ko isn’t closing. Ever-nimble, we are transforming and seeking new ways to serve both the art form and the community that we hold dear.”
The festival opens with “FLUSHING (Make Room for Someone Else),” created by Eric Bass, co-founder/Sandglass Theater and Linda Parris-Bailey, co-founder/Carpetbag Theatre, and directed by Kathie deNobriga. A puppet show with songs, made for adults, FLUSHING begins at the Brink, where two theater directors are passing the leadership of their ensembles to the next generation. This moment sparks a reflection on what it means to retire and what it might mean to inherit. For those stepping down, what do we leave and who do we become? And for those stepping up, how do we take what is given and make it our own? Performances will be on Friday, July 22, and Saturday, July 23, at 8pm, and Sunday, July 24, at 4pm.
This year we welcome back the “KoFest Story Slam & Celebration” on the Sunday evening of the first performance weekend, July 24 at 8pm. A celebration of KoFest’s three decades, featuring true stories on the season’s theme of “Stepping Up / Stepping Back.” There will be some ringers, and also some wild-card slots, for these stories about transitions. Special guest appearance by Sara Felder whose previous performances at Ko have made her a Ko audience favorite. Potential storytellers can email firstname.lastname@example.org to pitch a story.
The 31st season closes with Clear Creek Creative’s “EZELL: Ballad of a Land Man,” with performances on Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30, at 6:15pm, and Sunday, July 31, at 10:15am. An environmental, cultural and spiritual parable of domination and resilience that explores the complexities of climate change, indigenous erasure and environmental extraction (fracking)—that is based on the artists’ lived experience in their rural Appalachian community in Kentucky. This immersive outdoor experience features a contemplative walk through the woods to the performance site with live music, the play, a return walk and a post-show dialogue (back in the air-conditioned theatre space) with the artists and a panel of local experts.
This year, all performances will be on the Hampshire College campus in Amherst, MA. Show tickets are available at three different choose your price levels: $30 Patron, $22 Standard, $10 Discount. Tickets for the Story Slam are available at $26 Patron, $16 Standard, $10 Discount. Further information and tickets are available at kofest.com. The Box Office Phone (413) 559-5351 opens July 18.
Gerard Stropnicky returns to the Ko Festival to teach his highly popular (and already sold out!) on-your-feet writers’ and performers’ story intensive. “First Person: Crafting Your Story for Performance” is designed to release the enormous potential energy already in you—and in your story. This workshop begins the final Ko Festival season July 18-23, 2022. A waiting list in case of cancellations is being taken at email@example.com.
We hope you can join us for this season of compelling performance, inquiry and celebration!
Ko is funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies. We are also supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, part of the United States Regional Artis Resilience Fund, an initiative of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major funding from the federal CARES Act from the National Endowment for the Arts. Other support comes from the Massachusetts Cultural Council; a state agency; the Amherst & Pelham Cultural Councils, local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; and a grant from the Network of Ensemble Theater’s NET/TEN Mini-Grant Program of the Network of Ensemble Theaters.