Piti Theatre holds ‘One Sweet Performing Arts Festival’

SHELBURNE FALLS — Take a drive around Western Massachusetts, and you may spot maple sugaring buckets on trees.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

To celebrate, Piti Theatre Company hosted their annual SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival, complete with a pancake brunch, maple syrup tasting, theatrical performances and even a little puppet-making at the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center.

The all-day event began at 11 a.m. with a pancake brunch and CD release party for resident Piti performer Carrie Ferguson, who plays “The Piano Lady” in “To Bee or Not to Bee.”

While this is the ninth year that Piti has held this event, this time was the first to include a pancake feast. Attendees had the choice of blueberry or plain pancakes, and apparently, they were a hit.

Even past 2 p.m., the demand for pancakes still ran high. Parents and their children sat at tables chatting and eating before the performance “To Bee or Not to Bee” began at 2:30.

“To Bee or Not to Bee”

The performance, led by art directors and performers Jonathan Mirin and Godeliève Richard, meant to inspire audiences to save the bees by telling a comic, tragic and hopeful story of beekeeper James Van Happen.

The musical sent a message to the audience about how to save the bees, such as by not using pesticides, letting lawns grow so there are wildflowers and encouraging a bee-friendly habitat.

Children and their parents participated in the show when asked, making bird calls or whistling like the wind. During some lively songs, they clapped along.

At the end of the play, the troupe passed out seed packets to the audience to encourage them to plant wildflowers to help honeybees.

Ed Pazzanese, director of the arts program Families Creating Together, has traveled from Jamaica Plain for this event for the past three years.

“We need accessible, inclusive festivals and programs that welcome and include all individuals of all abilities,” he said. “This festival celebrates all individuals.”

A national impact

Soon, Piti will embark on its first nationwide “To Bee or Not to Bee” tour to spread the word that bees still need help. The tour will stop in places like Carbondale, Ill., Los Angeles, Long Island and more.

“In 2012, pollinators were having a tough time,” Mirin said. “Now, they’re still having a tough time.”

He explained that, through theater, adults and children alike can understand the plight of bees and pollinators and understand how important it is to save them.

In addition to performances, Piti has worked with multiple communities to hold “Bee Weeks” with bee-friendly events like planting days, beekeeper workshops and documentary screenings for adults.

“It’s really something a whole community can engage in,” he said.

Reach Christie Wisniewski at:


or 413-772-0261, ext. 280

Author: Going Green

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