Here’s the rundown on what you’ll find at Bethlehem’s new 10-day event
Theater should be more than just a script and a group of actors.
The audience is a critical piece, for it can drive the origins of the story and affect change afterward.
“You’re trying to do something that really moves your audiences and hopefully moves them forward towards some kind of accomplishment,” says William George, Touchstone Theatre’s co-founder and ensemble member.
Touchstone, along with community groups across the city of Bethlehem, will host a massive, multi-day community arts initiative, Festival UnBound, which will run Oct. 4 to 13 at numerous sites around Bethlehem. The event will offer more than 20 free and ticketed events featuring music, community forums, food and, of course, theater.
The goal: To hear about the challenges facing the diverse groups that make up
Bethlehem today and to try to come together as a community to shape the future through art.
The festival was organized in collaboration with the City of Bethlehem, local African American and Latino communities, educational institutions such as the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts and Moravian College, area steelworkers and other residents.
Here’s the rundown on some of what you can see at the festival:
■ Opening ceremony: A celebratory processional down the South Bethlehem Greenway with live music. 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 4, South Bethlehem Greenway. Free; donations welcome.
■ Prometheus/Redux: Premiere of the original play commissioned for Festival UnBound, written by Gerald Stropnicky. Marks the 20th anniversary of Bethlehem Steel’s closing and is a companion piece to the seminal work “Steelbound” from Touchstone’s 1999 Steel
Festival. Oct. 4-6, Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, 321 E. Third St., Bethlehem. Tickets: $25, adults; $15, students, seniors, steelworkers; limited number of pay-what-you-will tickets available.
■ Festival UnBound Cabaret: An “evening watering hole” with food, drinks and conversation, along with some performances by some of the area’s musical and performing artists. Oct. 4-6, 11-12, Touchstone Theatre parking lot at 321 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem. Free.
■ Homecoming: An afternoon gathering highlighting the African American community in the Lehigh Valley, with spoken word poets, live music, African drumming, a showcase of ethnic foods and vendors, and speakers on health and equity issues. Featured speaker is the Rev. Dr. Gregory Edwards. Noon-5 p.m. Oct. 5, Bob Cohen Room, Bethlehem Area Public Library, 11 W. Church St. Free; donations accepted.
■ “Hidden Seed:
Bethlehem’s Forgotten Utopia:” An original
production written by George and Lehigh University’s Seth Moglen, exploring Bethlehem’s birth and how it can strengthen our future by unearthing the stories of multiculturalism and women’s rights. Oct. 5-9, Single Sisters House, 50 W. Church
St., Bethlehem (limited handicapped access), and Oct. 10, PBS 39 839 Sesame St., Bethlehem (handicapped accessible). Tickets: $20; limited number of pay-what-you-will tickets available.
■ “Starry-Eyed:” Original production created and written by high school teens from the city about a group of misfit heroes who find themselves in Bethlehem by accident, but stay to fight the monsters that they find there – and face their own fears. 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Oct. 5-6, Payrow Plaza, 10 E. Church St, Bethlehem. Tickets: Pay-what-you-will: Suggest donation of $15, adults; $10, students and seniors.
■ “The Secret:” Premiere of a play by Mock Turtle
Marionette Theater on the Lehigh Valley’s most influential artist, the celebrated feminist writer and LGBTQ icon Hilda Doolittle, featuring narrative, song and puppetry. Oct. 5-8, Touchstone Theatre, 321 E. Fourth St, Bethlehem. Tickets: $25, adults; $15, students and seniors; limited number of pay-what-you-will tickets available. ■ “Kitchen Chronicles:” Led
by Touchstone Ensemble member Mary Wright, this performance offers a one-of-a-kind take on the powers of food and wisdom shared in the kitchen. 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 6-7, PBS 39 839 Sesame St., Bethlehem. Tickets: $20; limited number of Pay What You Will tickets available.
■ A Joyful Noise: The Bach Choir of Bethlehem will lead this event in collaboration with Nazareth Area High School Cantus, Camille Armstrong, Greater Shiloh Church Choir,
Big Easy Easton Brass, Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts Touring Choir, Bel Canto Youth Chorus and Jakopa’s Punch. This will explore how making music can bring people together. 4-6 p.m. Oct. 6, Zoellner Arts Center, Baker Hall, Lehigh University, 420 E. Packer Ave., Bethlehem. Tickets: $15, adults; $10, students; limited number of Pay What You Will tickets available.
■ “Beyond Utopia:” Visiting Polish company Teatr Brama leads Moravian College undergraduate students and graduate students from the new Moravian/Touchstone MFA program in Performance Creation in an original work developed for the festival exploring themes of poverty and inequality in pursuit of a new vision for Bethlehem. Oct. 7-8, Bethlehem Area Public Library, 11 W. Church St., Bethlehem. Pay What You Will: Suggested donation of $10, adults; $5, students and seniors.
■ Community Conversations: This noontime series will explore festival themes in a relaxed environment, moderated by Touchstone Ensemble member/Moravian College professor Christopher Shorr. Noon-1 p.m. Oct. 7-11, Café the Lodge, 427 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem. Free; food and drink available for purchase.
■ Inside/Outside City: From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 9 you’ll find random acts of inclusion featuring musical, recreational and artistic events open to public participation. South Bethlehem Greenway, Free.
■ “To Hunt a Wild Utopia, ”a new commissioned work by Agile Rascal Bicycle Touring Theatre will take audiences on a wild theatrical ride, literally, through Bethlehem on a quest for utopia. Ticket-holders will ride with the troupe of champions for green transport and adventure. Oct. 9-12, beginning at Charles A. Brown Ice House, 56 River St., Bethlehem. Tickets: $15, adult; $10, students and seniors; limited number of Pay What You Will tickets available. Pre-registration is required; bicycles provided.
■ Poets, Troubadours, and Troublemakers: Three evenings of live, original music, created in the spirit of Festival UnBound. A collaboration with Godfrey Daniels and folk musician Anne Hills. Oct. 9, Sigal Museum, 342 Northampton St. Easton; Oct. 10, The Lyric Room, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; Oct. 11, Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. Fourth St, Bethlehem. Tickets: $15; limited number of Pay What You Will tickets available.
■ “Forward March: The Future of Our Warriors:” An original production by Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving featuring poetry, storytelling and theater designed to bridge the gap between veterans and civilians. Oct. 9-10, Touchstone Theatre, 321 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem. Pay What You Will: Suggested donation of $15, adults: $10, students, seniors and veterans.
■ Sustainability Forum: A town hall-style gathering to brainstorm how to create a healthy and connected community. 1-3 p.m. Oct. 12, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, 420 E. Packer Ave., Bethlehem. Free; donations accepted.
■ “Embracing Bethlehem/Abrazos a Belén:” An original site-specific theatrical experience of song and story by New York’s pre-eminent Latino theatre collective Pregones Theatre developed in partnership with Bethlehem’s Latino community. Oct. 11-12, Charles A. Brown Ice House, 56 River St., Bethlehem. Pay-what-you-will: Suggested donation $15, adults; $10, students and seniors.
■ Community Meal & Epilogue: A chance to enjoy Bethlehem’s favorite foods, hear live music and share takeaways from the Festival UnBound experience. 2-5 p.m. Oct. 13, Charles A. Brown Ice House, 56 River St. Bethlehem. Free (food included); donations welcome.
■ Closing ceremony: Song, dance and more. 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 13, Payrow Plaza, 10 E. Church St., Bethlehem. Free; donations welcome.
Info: festivalunbound .com/events/
“The Secret” will debut as part of Festival UnBound, which will run Oct. 4 to Oct. 13 at numerous sites around Bethlehem. The event will offer more than 20 free and ticketed events featuring music, community forums, food and, of course, theater.
Folk musician Anne Hills will be part of Poets, Troubadours and Troublemakers at the new Festival UnBound, which will run Oct. 4 to Oct. 13 at numerous sites around Bethlehem.