Byrdcliffe hosts ARTBARN’s site-specific theater piece The Circle

(Michael Cory)

In the throes of youthful idealism, there comes a time when, discouraged by the corrupt and violent world’s intransigent resistance to our efforts to reform it, we begin fantasizing: “Why don’t they just give us some desert island where all the freaks can live together in harmony?” But what if “they” called our bluff and actually let us have such a place, and we found it to be not so idyllic after all? Some such thinking appears to have led to the gestation of ARTBARN’s site-specific theatrical production The Circle: A Guidebook to Peace, Happiness and Truth through Personal Geometry, to be unveiled three times this weekend at the Byrdcliffe Art Colony in Woodstock.

“Inspired by Shakespeare’s final play The Tempest and William Butler Yeats’s prophetic and terrifying poem ‘The Second Coming,’ The Circle tells the story of a group of idealists who attempt to turn their back on the pain and suffering of the world only to discover that sometimes, the harder you try to keep something out, the more you end up letting it in,” reads the capsule description of this intriguing new work. When you practice rough magic, you invite in the rough beasts along with the benevolent sprites, it would appear.

Authored by Melissa D. Brown and Raven Burnett and developed over the course of a year by the members of the ARTBARN collective – who include a chef along with theater professionals – The Circle is touted as “a unique audience experience,” “an original work that’s part theater, part installation, part walking tour and part meal.” Audiences will move from place to place on the Byrdcliffe grounds, exploring a series of environments created by theatrical designer Deb O as actors T. Sahara Meer, Rachael Richman, Elisa Matula and Ross Cowan perform under the direction of Jess K. Smith. Along the way, attendees are invited to eat a series of snacks and small bites prepared by Kate Baker Linsley.

Smith promises that even those familiar with the art colony site and its historical legacy will “see it anew” while experiencing The Circle. Find out for yourself this Saturday, August 1 at 2 or 7:30 p.m. or Sunday, August 2 at 2 p.m. Don’t eat a heavy meal right before the performance, and wear comfortable walking shoes. Tickets cost $25. For reservations and more information, visit


ARTBARN’s The Circle, Saturday, August 1, 2 & 7:30 p.m., Sunday, August 2, 2 p.m., $25, Byrdcliffe Art Colony: 3 Upper Byrdcliffe Road, Woodstock:



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