Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Food becomes art with 'The Little Farm Show' at Bethlehem's VegFest

An organic farmer plants herself as a theater artist in what's been referred to as "the greatest show on dirt," when an original, family-friendly musical extravaganza, "The Little Farm Show," is performed Saturday as part of Bethlehem's VegFest, sponsored by the Downtown Bethlehem Association.

VegFest runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the South Bethlehem Greenway, 316 S. New St. (corner of South New and Mechanic streets), with food sampling, speaker presentations and educational exhibitors. 

The free, hour-long performance of "The Little Farm Show," created and performed by the NACL (North American Cultural Laboratory), is scheduled for 1 p.m. behind Touchstone Theatre, between Polk and Taylor streets on the South Bethlehem Greenway. Steeped in humor, philosophy, and a wheelbarrow full of information, the musical navigates the history of agriculture from 10,000 BCE to today as it explores sustainability, local food systems, and organic farming.

The show was created by NACL's Tannis Kowalchuk and Brett Keyser of Upstate New York, who play "The Amazing MacDonald Twins," a brother-and-sister team of barnstorming performers who tour "The Greatest Show on Dirt!" from town to town as they explore the question, ‘Where does your food come from?' through farming, food and the environment. The show not only entertains but asks the audience to consider its food choices and the effect those decisions have on their bodies, the environment, and society.

Kowalchuk, NACL's artistic director and actress, is a mother and an organic farmer on Willow Wisp Organic Farm in the Catskills and Upper Delaware Valley in New York. The farm grows vegetables and flowers for local markets and restaurants, and operates a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. "The Little Farm Show" was created not only from an artistic initiative, but also from Kowalchuk's values and concerns as a mother and a farmer.

"Touchstone and NACL are both members of the Network of Ensemble Theaters," said Touchstone artistic director Jp Jordan, "and so we've crossed paths as fellow ensemble artists a number of times over the last decade. Similar aesthetics and approaches to creating theater (plus rave reviews from sister theaters!) brought us to this show as a perfect match for VegFest."

For more than 30 years, Touchstone Theater has produced and presented both original and classic productions, with a dedication to the renewal of theater as a vital art form. It works to foster collaboration on a local and national level through educational and youth empowerment programs, using theater as a community-building tool.

Upcoming productions for Touchstone are: "Darwinii: The Comeuppance of Man," Oct. 4-5 at The Charles A. Brown Ice House, created by Glen Berger and performed by Brett Keyser; "D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks," Nov. 14-17, at Touchstone Theatre, created and performed by Sandglass Theatre; and "Christmas City Follies XIV," Dec. 5-22, at Touchstone Theatre, created and performed by the Touchstone Ensemble.

Touchstone is embarking on its next epic community undertaking, and in the tradition of its past undertakings, "Steelbound," "Don Quixote of Bethlehem," and "A Resting Place." The project, "Journey from the East – Year One," is inspired by the sudden influx of Chinese population in Bethlehem. According to Touchstone, "stories from the native Bethlehem community as well as our Asian guests will be gathered and transformed into a script written and directed by Touchstone Ensemble Associate Mary Wright." The first of two productions will debut in April 2014, performed by the Touchstone Ensemble.

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International dance illusionists of "MOMIX" open the 2013-14 season for Kutztown University's KU Presents! series on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., in the newly renovated Schaeffer Auditorium. Performing "Botanica," choreographed by Moses Pendleton, MOMIX incorporates light, shadow, props and the human body as it weaves a dream-like journey through the four seasons.

The fall season continues with a celebratory concert gala on Sept. 30 with the KU Choir, Berks Youth Chorus, KU Jazz Ensemble I, and KU Brass Ensemble; Rockin' Alumni Showcase on Oct. 24 with Grammy Award-nominated guitarist Rick Vito; Pentatonix on Oct. 26 with its "futuristic a cappella" style (the group won NBC's "The Sing Off"), and "Signature Broadway" on Oct. 28 with Kutztown alumnus and founder of Arlington, Va., Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre, Eric Schaeffer '84, directing an evening of Broadway showstoppers complete with orchestra.

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The 911 Memorial Flag recently was transferred to the city of Easton Emergency Service Personnel and is on display through Sept. 20 at the Sigal Museum, 342 Northampton St., Easton. The 22' x 32' flag is comprised of nearly 3,000 American flags representing each victim from the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 terrorist attacks, as well as flags representing service organizations that participated in the recovery and rescue efforts, and national flags from all countries that lost citizens.

The flag was first presented to New York City at a ceremony on the USS Intrepid in 2002, and has since been viewed throughout the United States, Canada and Iraq. The memorial was undertaken as a community project by volunteers from Bucks County and from Hunterdon County, N.J., to promote healing for our nation and to support American troops in the war against terrorism.

Also at the Sigal Museum through the end of the month is the Legacy Exhibit of the Holocaust Resource Center of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley. The touring exhibit, first developed to educate a new generation of students about the Holocaust, is for the first time on public exhibit. An Open House Reception is set for Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

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It's what's known as "high-octave fun" with the "Route 66" hit musical revue at the Pines Dinner Theatre, 448 N. 17th St., Allentown, beginning Friday through Oct. 20. Similar to the fun of "Grease," "Pump Boys and Dinettes," and "Forever Plaid," it's a ride beginning with the sounds of 1950s Chicago and traveling along the "Main Street of America" to the California coast with the surf music of the 1960s.

The theater ends the fall season with "Christmas at the Pines: Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland," Nov. 6-Dec. 29.

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