Out & About: Windsor welcomes dogs in virtual show; 3 productions come to Northern Stage festival

  • Duke, a long-haired German Shepherd owned by the Aspell family of Perkinsville, is one of the participants in a Virtual Dog Show co-hosted by Windsor On Air and the Windsor Public Library. (Kurt Wehde photograph)

  • Deborah Yarchun is the playwright of Drive, which will be performed over Zoom at 7:30 p.m. Saturday as part of Northern Stage's New Works Now Festival. (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/13/2021 9:45:05 PM
Modified: 1/13/2021 9:45:01 PM

WINDSOR — Has your dog learned a new trick during the COVID-19 pandemic or expanded your mask-sewing skills to include dog costumes?

Or maybe, you just want to share your furry friend’s cuteness with the world (or the at least Upper Valley).

Consider entering your dog — or dogs — in a Virtual Dog Show, co-sponsored by public access TV channel Windsor on Air and the Windsor Public Library.

“There’s lots of dog lovers here in Windsor,” said Paula Wehde, station director of Windsor on Air, adding that the board of the nonprofit organization also thought January would be a fitting time to do it, as it is a quieter part of year.

To enter, dog owners can submit up to around one minute of video of their dog in costume, being cute or performing a trick via Google Drive or Dropbox to woa-tv@comcast.net from now through Jan. 28. If people have trouble submitting their videos, they can email Wehde or call or text 802-674-5200 for help.

“We’ll figure out a way to make it work for everyone,” she said.

Wehde will then compile the videos into a program that will air on at 10 a.m. Jan. 30. Three community members — including Windsor Town Manager Tom Marsh — will serve as judges, and prizes will be provided from West Lebanon Feed and Supply.

“It’s such a wonderful thing to spend time together and show off our best friends,” said Barbara Ball, director of the Windsor Public Library, who has four dogs herself. “I haven’t decided who I’m going to enter, but one has been practicing so it might be her.”

And fret not, cat lovers. There are plans in the works for a Virtual Cat Show — though getting them to cooperate might be a little bit difficult.

“We’ve been pressured to do a cat show,” Wehde said. “We have to get our feet wet with the dog show first.”

Northern Stage’s New Works Now Festival begins Saturday

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — When playwright Deborah Yarchun, director Michael Legg and the cast of Drive rehearse, they’re sitting in four different time zones.

That’s the norm for Northern Stage’s New Works Now Festival, which begins at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday with a Zoom reading of Yarchun’s play about truck drivers.

“People gather and are collectively going through the script,” Yarchun said in an interview from Los Angeles, where she is currently based. “It’s not that different other than it’s not in person.”

This is the eighth year of the popular New Works Now Festival. The play Enough, written by Celeste Jennings, will be performed over Zoom at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, and the musical Shook — music and lyrics by Zoe Sarnak, book by Alexis Sheer — will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30.

All performances are free to attend, though people are required to register at least a half-hour before each production begins at northernstage.org.

“We’re sad not to be able to gather, but also excited that it gives high-quality, free theater to whoever wants it and can click the link,” said Jess Chayes, BOLD associate artistic director and New Works Now producer, at Northern Stage.

One thing Chayes and others at Northern Stage will miss are the in-person discussions that follow each performance. This year, those will be moved to Zoom.

“The audience’s role in New Works Now is really important,” Chayes said. “We love their feedback and participation. They’re a big part of the process.”

This will be the second time Drive is performed over Zoom. The first was this summer as part of Dartmouth College’s VoxFest. Yarchun — a recipient 2020 Dartmouth College Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Playwriting — started working on Drive a little over two years ago when she participated in Civilians’ R&D Group, which supports research-driven plays. She interviewed long-haul truck drivers at a rest stop in Texas and connected with others through Facebook groups.

“Surprisingly, a lot of them responded,” she said. “I guess a lot people don’t tend to ask about their stories.”

Drive, which is about an hour and 50 minutes long, focuses on a group of drivers in a small Iowa town who lose their jobs to automation and self-driving vehicles. Yarchun has been fascinated by truck drivers since she was a child and is also terrified by the power of artificial intelligence.

“A lot of truck drivers’ identities are tied up with their occupation,” Yarchun said. “Right now interestingly the play has taken on different resonance because of the pandemic.”

The issues of employment and rapid technological advancement have bubbled to the forefront over the past year, and Yarchun said she hopes the play offers the audience some comfort if they’ve been left behind.

“I’m hoping people will feel a little less alone,” Yarchun said.

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Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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