Ashfield theater company secures big grant, plans tour
A sizable grant means a small Western Massachusetts theatre company can take its big new play on the road—a sweeping epic about 20th century history that requires onstage musicians, puppeteers, and even some circus skills.
The Double Edge theater company in rural Ashfield performs many of its shows in a barn, and has only a handful of full-time employees. But it likes to think big. And "big" is a good way to describe its latest work in progress, called Grand Parade of the 20th Century.
"A vision of humanity at play and at war and at rest.”
Executive director and actor Matthew Glasssman explains that Grand Parade is a collaboration between the onstage artists, a composer of new music, and director Stacy Klein, who is Double Edge's founding artistic director.
“There are elements of trapeze, social dance, circus, puppetry, projections, and popular culture, which really fill the height and the breadth of the stage in a spectacle of history."
The show begins a tour of residencies and performances next month that will bring it to Chicago and Baltimore before its world premiere in Washington, D.C., and then off to Moscow. This ambitious itinerary wouldn't be possible without a new grant of one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, awarded by the Boston-based New England Foundation for the Arts.
The money will allow the troupe to spend a full ten days at each venue adapting the sets, video projections, and rigging that allows actors to swing through the air, while holding workshops with the local community, Klein explains.
"The normal order of things is two days. And we're having ten days. So that's pretty unheard of, and that's because of the grant."
The plan is to bring the new show to hometown fans sometime this spring, but the right venue must be found first—if Double Edge tried to cram the show into its own space, Glassman says, there'd be no room left for an audience.