The Telluride School’s Fifth Grade Project performs Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth today, Feb. 16. This is the last chance (for a few years) to see a group of 10-year-olds take on one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies. (The comedies come around more often.) Of course, the person really taking on Macbeth is Angela Watkins, Telluride’s theater arts teacher and the play’s director. Watkins has been bringing the Bard to grade-school kids since 1997, when her friend Dennis Green, a fifth-grade teacher, asked her for help directing a play. Once Watkins agreed to pitch in, Green punched up his request: “We’ve gotta do Shakespeare.” And with that, the adventure started.
Green works from a script written for fifth graders from a company that specializes in making Shakespeare accessible to various age levels without dumbing the playwright down. “They keep the language, they keep the story,” she says. Every year, she puts on one of six plays. Most are comedies, but two (her class also performs Romeo and Juliet) are not. Of these, Macbeth is the darkest. Watkins is unphased. “You have to respect the dark stuff, or else the story doesn’t happen,” she says. Which means, along with learning about life in Elizabethan times, these young actors are also learning about murder. “Kids this age are more intuitive than you might think,” she says. “They’re with you. They understand the way evil is overtaking the main characters.” By contrast, “Julius Caesar [another play she’d considered] is just a lot of killing.” In Macbeth, “there’s a sense that the bad guys are dying,” which helps bring this famous tragedy, and its author, to life. “The best way to understand these plays is to act in them instead of read them,” Watkins says. “That’s how you get the buy-in from the kids.” The experience, she adds, “is fresh every time.” Macbeth will be performed at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Palm.
TONY FURTADO AT TURN OF THE CENTURY
When banjo and slide virtuoso Tony Furtado takes the stage at Turn of the Century Saloon Sunday, Feb. 19 in Montrose, it won’t be for the first time. He’s an old Colorado hand, having lived in Boulder for six years. “I played the mountain-town circuit and the ski-town circuit,” he says of those days. “There was a time when I was playing the Bluegrass Festival every year.”
Furtado has moved on (today he lives in Portland), and so has his music. It’s been more than two decades since his first album; since that time, he has edged steadily away from pure bluegrass, the genre that made his name. As reviewer Hal Horowitz said of Deep Water, one of Furtado’s more recent albums, while “drizzles” of Furtado’s bluegrass past remain, “it’s blues, folk and new age that dominate, making this music shimmer with richly-muted beauty.” Furtado will bring a full band with him to Montrose in support of his latest CD, Golden. What he loves most, he says, is just playing the music. “In a studio, you can disappear into the song and forget the whole apparatus is supporting you, because the music is creating itself,” he says. “When you’re on stage, and it’s a good show, it’s a rush. The comradeship between musicians, the on-the-spot creativity, is like a drug.” Furtado plays two shows Sunday: at the radio station KAFM in Grand Junction at 1 p.m., and in Montrose at 8 p.m.
FEASTS OF SPRING AT THE WILKINSON
Every other Thursday until March 22, Susanna Hoffman is offering up delicious, historically correct food and drink at the Wilkinson library. An anthropologist, author of five cookbooks and one of the original owners of Chez Panisse, she’s the perfect person for the job. It also helps that she has what she calls “kind of a Rolodex brain. When you poke me, out comes the history of quince, the story of butter,” indeed, the beta on whatever she happens to be cooking with. The topic of her next session, on Feb. 23, is Lenten Feasts. It will be a “classic Lenten meal,” she says: no meat, fish, dairy, cheese or oil. There will be sesame soup, decorated with olives, and “peas porridge,” made with yellow lentils, a common legume in the Mediterranean. There will also be leeks, “the most important food in all of Europe around the time of Herodotus,” as well as walnut cake and mead. The menu in her next session, entitled The Ides of March, will feature skewered chicken livers cooked with moscato and onions (the skewers are a reference to Julius Caesar, who was stabbed by Brutus) and ricotta cheesecake. Hoffman’s own go-to meal is what she calls the Four P’s: pasta, Parmesan, parsley and pears. “Oh, and pine nuts,” she added. “That’s five P’s,” I pointed out. “It is!” she replied. “I make this up as I go along.” The next session of “Lenten Feasts” will be Feb. 23 at 6 p.m.
WEEHAWKEN’S ALL FIRED UP
On Feb. 24, Weehawken Arts will hold an open house in Ridgway for its new ceramics studio. The studio occupies a cheerful, second-floor space at 171 N. Cora Street and is equipped with supplies for making pottery, painting pottery, glazing pottery and more. Weehawken will offer classes in specialty glazing, as well as hand building and wheel throwing. Lessons can be private or semi-private. The studio will also be available for birthday parties, as well as seasonal projects for kids. (On tap for later this spring: a mother’s day project.)
The studio is the brainchild of Robbie Stellmacher, who moved to Ridgway from Connecticut, where she offered pottery classes, and whose own equipment (including a brand-new kiln and two pottery wheels) were languishing. “I thought, why not put all this equipment to use, and help Weehawken make some money?” she said on Monday, as she was sprucing up the studio. Deidra Krois, one of four pottery instructors who will teach for Weehawken, was there to demonstrate working on a pottery wheel. “It’s kind of meditative, isn’t it, Deidra?” Stellmacher remarked. “Deidra?” Krois didn’t reply; she was too intent on her pot. The studio open house is from 5-7 p.m. For more information on Weehawken’s pottery studio, visit weehawkenarts.org.