Salisbury Press

Sunday, May 31, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIERFestival Coordinator Bill George explains his vision for “Festival UnBound.” Copyright - © Ed Courrier PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIERFestival Coordinator Bill George explains his vision for “Festival UnBound.” Copyright - © Ed Courrier

Touchstone goes ‘UnBound’ for arts fest

Friday, June 7, 2019 by Ed Courrier Special to The Press in Focus

Touchstone Theatre will present “Festival UnBound,” a 10-day visual and performing arts festival, Oct. 4-13, at venues in South Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley.

According to festival coordinator Bill George, “This ten-day series of performances, installations and happenings is created in collaboration with the people and artists of Bethlehem, visiting regional and international artists, and Bethlehem city government.”

The festival includes discussions, community meals, social-media exchanges and town meetings “that will strive to find practical solutions for our city and the increased empathy and compassion that is necessary for us to advance collectively,” said George.

With community input from interviews and story-gathering circles, which Touchstone began in 2016, “Festival UnBound” poses the question: “What should we take with us into this uncertain and chaotic future? What would be better to leave behind?,” according to George.

George said that the challenges and promise of diversity, health, interconnectedness of all things, and “the importance of our youth” are themes for several ongoing festival projects.

To assist with “Festival UnBound,” George has recruited folksingers Anne Hills and Dave Fry and several culturally- and politically-connected individuals and sponsors from the Lehigh Valley. The press conference to announce the festival was Feb. 19 at Touchstone Theatre. Bethlehem.

Festival events are to include: opening and closing ceremonies of outdoor music, drama and “pageantry”; “Homecoming: Voices of the African-American Community” with food, poetry and music; “Single Sisters: A dive into Bethlehem’s birth”; “Poets, Troubadours, & Troublemakers,” with three evenings of original music; “A Joyful Noise” provided by The Bach Choir and five community choirs, and a “Sustainability Forum” to explore “maintaining a healthy and ever more connected community.”

Bethlehem High School students will create an original, site-specific, multi-discipline work “about their dreams and concerns for the future.” Bethlehem fourth-graders will be involved in an art project focused on “What kind of home do they wish to have here?”

Theater productions include: “The Kitchen Chronicles” with Mary Wright; Pregones Theatre Residency by a Latino theater collective from New York; “Prometheus Redux,” a sequel to Touchstone and Cornerstone’s Steel Festival theater project, and “Meet Me Halfway,” described as part-theater happening and part-block party.

The festival is funded in part by a National Endowment for the Arts grant and support from other sources. George said plans are to raise an additional $50,000 for the project.