British-American comedienne Alison Larkin brought down the house in a special performance of her brilliant new one-woman show, Alison Larkin LIVE.  Alison asked that we not take any photos of the show, but we did snag a couple of her afterwards, as she signed her book, The English American, and chatted with the audience.
We at the Festival are so grateful to Alison for volunteering her time and amazing talent in a benefit show for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers!  Brava Alison!


Earlier in the day, there were two lively workshops at the Mason Library in Great Barrington: Iris Bass on “Return to Little Women,” and Sondra Zeidenstein on “Women, Creativity and Aging.”

Festival Rep Judy Nardacci reports:

“Iris Bass led an enchanted audience to a new understanding of a favorite childhood book. Louisa May Alcott, like her character Jo, was a main support for her 19th century family. But Louisa was far from satisfied with the “ideal family” she created, and although she made a living from the series about the March girls and their families, she also wrote (under pseudonyms) the lurid gothic-style novels that would have surprised many of her young fans.

“Iris used her knowledge of the real history of the Alcott family under the leadership of its utterly impractical and even neglectful father, as well as her delightful sense of humor- and sometimes outrage- to explore both Louisa and the March family.Excerpts from Mark Adamo’s opera  of the same name expanded our understanding of the depth and poignancy of the March family’s lives and marriages; and gave us a new appreciation for a feminist writer who lived with her own set of challenges and disappointments.”

Judith Nardacci introduces Iris Bass

Festival rep Lorrin Krouss reported on Sondra Zeidenstein’s workshop in the afternoon, which had about 30 attendees.  “Sondra spoke a bit and then added some insight into her own life and  health issues and how all of this impacts her writing.  The guests sat in a circle and Sandra encouraged all to “share” where they are now at their current age and  where they are in their creative life.  It was interesting to listen to everyone’s stories especially those women who were 80+ —- very encouraging.”

Sondra Zeidenstein talks with a workshop participant

Millie Calesky had this report on her Festival workshop in Pittsfield:

“My workshop was well attended (25 + attendees) and, in my humble estimation — a great success.  Folks came from as far away as Kingston and Glens Falls NY, Bennington and North Adams. We were together for three hours and did some deep work together. I am honored to be a part of the festival, and look forward to participating next year!”

Festival Rep Judy Nardacci, who attended Millie’s workshop, described it this way:

Millie Calesky leads writing workshop“Millie Calesky truly brought out the “genie” in each person, in a workshop that drew a large (25+) and enthusiastic group from as far as Glens Falls and Kingston, NY; Bennington, VT; North Adams, and Canaan, CT on a sunny pre-spring afternoon. They gathered to hear about the process of journaling for the first time, to become reacquainted with an activity that had been missing from their lives recently, or to explore new ways of continuing a process that is part of every day but needing some fresh insight.

“Using written exercises and small group conversations, participants were invited to consider journaling to look at their own feelings, relationships with others, a way to stimulate creative writing, to think through and resolve problems, to bring completion and catharsis to troubling situations, or purely for enjoyment. As Milllie said in her summary, “we did some deep work together”. The comfortable and informal setting (upstairs at The Lichtenstein), the care and planning Millie had put into making the afternoon productive and flexible so that it met a range of expectations and needs, and the thoughtful inclusion of breaks, snacks and handouts made this workshop useful, relaxing and fun! It was a lovely and enlightening way to spend the afternoon.”

Suzi Banks Baum

Also, today Festival friend, host and supporter Suzi Banks Baum posted a great testimonial to the Festival today on her blog, Laundry Line Divine.   Check it out here.  Thanks Suzi, for all you’re doing to get the word out about the fabulous Festival we’ve got going on in the Berkshires this month!