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Brecht . . . with puppets: Mettawee River Theatre Company.

IT’S BETTER WITH WOOD: One evening at a local tavern, a few editorial colleagues and I discussed, over eight or 12 drinks, how much better theater would be if it were done with puppets. Unfortunately, it’s likely that our most hoped-for puppet productions (like, say, The Vagina Monologues or the Oberammergau) will never happen. However, the Mettawee River Theatre is doing something close to our alcohol-enlarged hearts: Bertolt Brecht, with puppets. And masks. The company’s 30th anniversary production is an adaptation of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, a typically Brechtian story of a child abandoned by its wealthy parents and raised by a peasant. (Naturally, a custody battle eventually ensues, leading to a twist on King Solomon’s biblical split-the-baby decision.) The company will be performing The Caucasian Chalk Circle all around the region, from the McCullough House lawn in North Bennington, Vt. on July 8 to Olana’s lawn in Hudson on Aug. 6. Stops along the way include Lake Placid, Bolton Landing, Queensbury and North Adams, Mass. In the Mettawee press release, designer and director Ralph Lee explains: “For several months I have been turning out masks of all sorts and sizes as well as some life-size puppets, so our company of six actors can bring to life over 30 characters in this beautiful epic drama.” For a complete schedule of play performances and other special events, visit their Web site at www.mettawee.org.

CRAZY ABOUT SAMANTHA: In conjunction with the new Columbia Pictures remake of Bewitched, a special anniversary edition of the ultimate guide for bemused Bewitched fans is being reissued: Bewitched Forever: The Immortal Companion to TV’s Most Magical Supernatural Situation Comedy, by Herbie J. Pilato. You can meet Pilato—who has to be the ultimate fan—at the Regal East Greenbush 8 cinema this Saturday (June 25) from 5:30-9 PM. “Herbie J.” will have copies on hand for you to buy, which he will be delighted to sign. Buy the book, so that you can have Bewitched fun facts at your fingertips like: Neither Elizabeth Montgomery (Samantha) nor Agnes Moorehead (Endora) won an Emmy for their performances, despite multiple nominations. The two cast members who did win Emmys for their supporting roles, however—Marian Lorne (Aunt Clara) and Alice Pearce (Gladys Kravits V 1.0)—died during the run of the show. OK, so that’s a little macabre. The book isn’t macabre; I’m assured that it’s fan-friendly fun.

NOT CRAZY ABOUT JOHN ASHCROFT: After Sept. 11, you may recall, the U.S. government wasn’t quite sure what to do. Well, we were sure about hunting down Osama Bin Laden, but other than that . . . things were sort of chaotic. Ironically, while we never did catch that Osama fellow, the Justice Department and associated Feds did manage to round up more than 5,000 people here at home and lock them up indefinitely. Most were noncitizens of Middle Eastern or South Asian origin; many were Muslim. Many were not allowed family visits or a lawyer. Many were deported. The powerful documentary Persons of Interest zeros in on 12 families whose lives were irreparably damaged by this roundup of “the usual suspects.” The New York Civil Liberties Union (Capital Region Chapter) is sponsoring a screening of Persons of Interest this Saturday (June 25) at 8 PM at Saratoga Film Forum (in the Arts Center Theater on Broadway, Saratoga Springs). Tickets are $6 general, $4 for members; call 584-FILM for more info.

—Shawn Stone

 

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