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Entertainment Highlights: Parish Players Stress Diversity in Women’s Stories

  • Readers for “Women’s Briefs’’ are, from left, standing: Isabel Lopez, Asia Peek, Lucy Xia, Swaminathan Subbiah, Manish Kumar, Bailey Ray and Barbara Payson. Seated: Sylvia Field. Also reading are Victoria Wrong Traudt and Hunter Schon.Courtesy photograph<br/>

    Readers for “Women’s Briefs’’ are, from left, standing: Isabel Lopez, Asia Peek, Lucy Xia, Swaminathan Subbiah, Manish Kumar, Bailey Ray and Barbara Payson. Seated: Sylvia Field. Also reading are Victoria Wrong Traudt and Hunter Schon.Courtesy photograph

  • The Dutch troupe known as the Jakop Ahlbom Company will be staging the first North American performance of Lebensraum Friday and Saturday night at the Hopkins Center. (See Best Bets)

    The Dutch troupe known as the Jakop Ahlbom Company will be staging the first North American performance of Lebensraum Friday and Saturday night at the Hopkins Center. (See Best Bets)

  • Spitfire Grill dress rehearsal on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in White River Junction, Vermont. <br/>Copyright 2014 by Rob Strong

    Spitfire Grill dress rehearsal on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in White River Junction, Vermont.
    Copyright 2014 by Rob Strong

  • Sandrine Bonnaire in Vagabond.

    Sandrine Bonnaire in Vagabond.

  • Readers for “Women’s Briefs’’ are, from left, standing: Isabel Lopez, Asia Peek, Lucy Xia, Swaminathan Subbiah, Manish Kumar, Bailey Ray and Barbara Payson. Seated: Sylvia Field. Also reading are Victoria Wrong Traudt and Hunter Schon.Courtesy photograph<br/>
  • The Dutch troupe known as the Jakop Ahlbom Company will be staging the first North American performance of Lebensraum Friday and Saturday night at the Hopkins Center. (See Best Bets)
  • Spitfire Grill dress rehearsal on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in White River Junction, Vermont. <br/>Copyright 2014 by Rob Strong
  • Sandrine Bonnaire in Vagabond.

Until she started navigating through the Louise Erdrich short story that she’ll perform in the Parish Players’ upcoming production, “Women’s Briefs,” Victoria Wrong Traudt always considered herself “more of a nonfiction reader.”

Then she found herself inhabiting the world view of the part-Ojibwe, part French-Canadian woman in whom the Dartmouth-educated Erdrich infused a parade of family, spiritual, cultural and ethnic-identity issues ... and recognized truth in another guise.

“I was very struck reading the story during the audition process,” Traudt, a real-estate agent by trade with Canadian and Native American roots. “I had an ancestor story of my own that I was never able to hear fully from my family, so this (Erdrich story) was very powerful.”

The directors and producers of “Women’s Briefs” are counting on eight women’s stories — one of them by Grace Paley, who spent her final years in Thetford, another transcribed from Whoopi Goldberg routines — and a diverse cast of readers/interpreters to evoke revelations large and small, poignant and funny and horrifying, universal and unmistakeably female.

“There’s one that (Goldberg) remade after turning 50, where she added a Southern character named Lurlene who’s menopausal,” said Shelby Grantham, a former Dartmouth senior lecturer in English. “It’s hilarious, but in very real terms about what menopause is really like.”

Grantham first proposed the idea of readings of stories by and mostly about women to Parish Players regular Dean Whitlock after years of seeing the group perform readings of stories by “mostly male writers, almost completely white male writers,” Grantham recalled. “To my great delight, he said without hesitation, ‘Sure!’ It percolated in my head for a year and a half, two years. Finally I decided that I owed it to women, including minority women, to get off my behind and do something.”

And after “a long couple of months of reading short story after short story after short story after short story,” she narrowed the field to stories by Erdrich, Paley, Goldberg, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sandra Cisneros, Ursula Le Guin, Gish Jen and Melody Moezzi and brought the package to Whitlock.

“This was a good time for us to have some variety in our programming,” Whitlock said. “Plus, Shelby’s drive to do this. We want the passion that comes from the director, something they’re invested in.”

Next came the casting call and then auditions, which Whitlock said yielded “a number of people who are new to the game” as well as locals with some theater experience.

“We needed extra rehearsals, to help them develop the gestures and bring out the emotions in the text,” Whitlock recalled. “You really have to take on the character.”

Added Traudt: “In some ways it’s more heartfelt than a regular play. You’re not memorizing. But you have to train yourself not to get lost in the words, to still be able to express the emotions.”

For those involved, extra incentive comes from the Players donating part of the opening-night proceeds to WISE of the Upper Valley, a social-service agency that helps women in crisis, particularly from domestic abuse.

“WISE is such a great source of strength and support for women,” Traudt said. “It’s awesome to be able to take part.”

The Parish Players will perform “Women’s Briefs” tomorrow and Saturday night at 7 and at the same time next Friday and Saturday at the Eclipse Grange on Thetford Hill. After the Opening Night benefit for WISE, at prices ranging from $17 to $20, tickets will cost between $12 and $15. More information at www.parishplayers.org.

Best Bets

Ordinarily, the Hopkins Center production tomorrow and Saturday night of Lebensraum (Habitat) would fall under the category of “Theater” here in Highlights. The Dutch troupe known as the Jakop Ahlbom Company will be staging the first North American performance of the play — which revolves around two neat-freak men in a 1920s-era room who get along fine until they hire a robot maid to keep house ... and it devolves into a madhouse — at the Moore Theatre both nights at 8. Just one thing is missing: The human voice … at least among the actors, who will perform acrobatic stunts, mime, illusions and visual gags more reminiscent of a silent movie from the first two decades of the 20th century. Meanwhile, the indie-rock band Alamo Race Track will weave in live music bringing to mind, and ear, the 1920s. For more information and tickets, call 603-646-2422, or visit the box office of www.hop.dartmouth.edu.

∎  The Camerata New England Piano Trio will fill Norwich’s St. Barnabas Episcopal Church with the music of Franz Joseph Haydn, Joaquin Turina and Bedrich Smetana on Saturday night, starting at 8. Tickets cost $30. Accompanying pianist Evelyn Zuckerman will be cellist Linda Galvan and violinist Alice Hallstrom. For more information, visit www.cameratanewengland.org P.S. For those who can’t make this concert, take heart: a Camerata New England quintet will perform on Mother’s Day, May 11, at a 3 p.m. concert at Lebanon’s Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, playing works of Schubert.

Looking Ahead

To ease the transition from frost heaves to mud season, and to help out the Cornish-based nonprofit Momentum Theatre Group, the band Sensible Shoes will play during the troupe’s Spring Into Spring Sock-Hop on April 12 at 6:30 p.m. Along with the music and dancing at Plainfield Town Hall, there will be a silent auction and refreshments. Tickets cost between $15 and $25 for those who RSVP via mttroupe@gmail.com or 802-738-9980.

Theater

Northern Stage this week begins its month-long run of The Spitfire Grill, a musical based on the 1996 movie of the same name about the camaraderie of small-town life, with previews tonight and Friday night at 7, leading to opening night on Saturday. For information and show times, go to northernstage.org.

∎  An always-reliable antidote to the mud-season blahs, Rusty DeWees will deliver his sly, backwoods-Vermont wit and wisdom at Alumni Hall in Haverhill tomorrow and Saturday nights as The Logger. Tickets are $20. More information at www.courtstreetarts.org

∎  The Hopkins Center at Dartmouth will screen the live simulcasts of the Metropolitan Opera’s matinee performances of La Boheme, at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday in the Loew Auditorium. This production of Puccini’s opera of young love features Anita Hartig as Mimi. General-admission tickets cost $29.

∎ The West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts will host Opera North’s production of Little Red Riding Hood at the historic Union Church in Claremont on Monday afternoon at 1:30. Part of Opera North’s spring tour, it features composer Seymour Barab’s 1962 libretto, sung in English by singers from ON’s Young Artist program. To reserve seats, send e-mail to melissa@wcc-ma.org.

Music

He’s from New Jersey and sometimes even confesses it onstage, yet most fans of contemporary folk music — as well as a parade of peer practitioners who have covered his songs and collaborated with him — not only forgive John Gorka but flock to his performances and covet his 11 albums, most recently So Dark You See. He’ll perform an 8 o’clock set tonight at the Flying Goose Brew Pub in New London, and a concert Friday night at 7:30 at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph. At the Chandler, the opening act will be the acoustic duo Mustard’s Retreat. Ticket prices range from $15 to $30, and can be purchased by calling 802-728-6464 or visiting www.chandler-arts.org.

∎  While taking a breeze through the Dartmouth campus this week, the chamber ensemble Imani Winds premieres a jazz composition tonight that the Hop co-commissioned from MacArthur genius-grant winner Jason Moran, who will join the ensemble on piano. Imani Winds also will perform compositions of Astor Piazzolla, Paul Hindemith and ensemble member Valerie Coleman. The concert begins at 7; ticket prices range from $17 to $30. And as part of the Hopstop family series, the group on Saturday morning at 11 will introduce kids to wind instruments with a range of tunes, among them Tomcats from Luciano Berio’s Opus Number Zoo .

∎ Less than six months after releasing Light You Up, his first CD since 2008, ever-evolving Americana singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins will play the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction on Friday night. Max Gomez will open the 8 o’clock show.

∎ The choral group Ensemble Zephyrus will perform “Peace I Leave You With,” including two works from Etna composer Travis Ramsey, under the direction of Lindsay Warren, at Sharon’s Vermont Independent School of the Arts on Saturday night at 7, as a benefit for the school’s lesson scholarship fund. The program includes excerpts from Bach’s Cantatas BWV 33 and 111, and from works of Franz Tunder, Dietrich Buxtehude and Edward Elgar, as well as a a piece from composer David Horn of St. Albans, Vt. Tickets are $10 by donation; for more information, send inquiries to EnsembleZephyrus@gmail.com.

∎ More than 30 years into their collaboration as the folk duo Mustard’s Retreat, David Tamulevich and Michael Hough on Saturday morning will blend old — especially 1960s — and new music with storytelling during an hour onstage at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph. The appearance, great for kids and families, starts at 11 a.m. Tickets cost $6 and are available by calling 802-728-6464 or visiting www.chandler-arts.org.

∎ Leading off the Hopkins Center’s free Chamberworks Series at Dartmouth’s Rollins Chapel on Sunday afternoon at 1, violist Martha Cassidy, cellist John Dunlop and pianist Gregory Hayes will perform 2x3/3x2, an exploration in trios and pairings interpreting composers from Denmark, Russia, the United States, England and Germany.

∎∎ Conductor Richard Riley will lead the Onion River Orchestra and the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra through a Sunday afternoon of Mozart, Brahms and other composers at Randolph’s Chandler Music Hall. The concert begins at 4; tickets cost between $10 and $15, and are available at the door or by calling 802-595-0087.

Film

The Billings Farm & Museum will wrap its fourth annual Woodstock Vermont Film Series on Saturday afternoon at 3, screening the Czech documentary Nicky’s Family. The 2011 movie recounts the rescue of more than 650 children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia by Sir Nicholas Winton in 1939. Winton — now 104 years old — transported the children to Britain to live with families there, and kept his involvement a secret until 1988, when the British Broadcasting Company covered the first reunion of 100 of the refugees. Tickets are $5 to $9 for members and $6 to $11 for non-members, and can be purchased at billingsfarm.org/filmfest or by calling 802-457-2355.

∎ Colby-Sawyer College lowers the curtain on its Favorite Films series on Monday night with the 7 o’clock screening of French New Wave director Agnes Varda’s 1985 feature Vagabond. This portrait of the final weeks in the life of a woman drifter challenges the viewer by mixing straightforward narrative with pseudodocumentary sequences and omitting significant events. Melissa Meade, an associate professor of humanities, will lead a discussion built around the movie’s tagline: “She’s cute, she stinks, and she won’t say ‘thank you.’ Would you offer her a lift?” Admission is free. For more information, call 603-526-3357.

Bar and Club Circuit

Boho Cafe in White River Junction on Friday night will host a CD release party and jam session from 6 to 9 for Bonnie Waters’ Awakening.

∎  About Gladys frontman Rich Thomas will play a solo set mixing modern acoustic rock with classics and blues at Lebanon’s Salt hill Pub, starting at 9 p.m. on Friday. At that hour on Saturday, Will Michaels and Mo’Combo will trot out their repertoire blues, R&B, classic soul and more.

∎ The southern Vermont-based string band Dusty Pilgrims will perform bluegrass, swing, folk, blues and string jazz, among other genres, on Saturday night at 9 at Windsor Station. And on Tuesday night at 6, David Greenfield takes the stage.

∎ Rock, roots and Americana pioneers Acoustic Truffle will play at Salt hill Hanover at 9 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday night at 9, storytelling acoustic rocker Brian Warren will take the stage for a solo set.

∎ The Dusty Gray Band trio returns to Salt hill Newport from its base in southern New Hampshire to perform rocking country-western at 9 on Friday night, followed on Saturday at the same time by the Jimi Hendrix-inspired trio Hi-Way Five from southern Vermont.

∎ The Peter Concilio Jazz Trio will play Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Friday night, starting at 9.

∎ Second Wind will play at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday. The music starts at 5 p.m.

∎ The Moores, sometimes called “The Partridge Family of Rock ‘n Roll,” will play One Mile West in Sunapee at 9 p.m. on Saturday. Ubiquitous young singer-songwriter Brooks Hubbard will perform Sunday afternoon at 4.

∎ The Center at Eastman in Grantham wraps up its Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon series this Sunday, hosting trumpeter Tiger Okoshi from 4 to 7.

∎ Clay Canfield brings his musical talents to the River Stones Tavern in Quechee on Fridays and Saturday nights at 8. He also performs at Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock on Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

∎ Salt hill Pub in Hanover runs an open mic hosted by Chad Gibbs on Mondays at 7 p.m.

∎ At Salt hill in Lebanon, Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host an open mic tonight starting at 8.

∎  Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock. It’s on Mondays, starting at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit hosts an open mic on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Wednesdays, beginning at 8 p.m.

∎ Gregory Brown hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com or 603-727-3304. Send Highlights to Highlights@vnews.com