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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

NACL celebrates milestone

By Kaitlin Carney - reporter / photographer

By: Kaitlin Carney | Democrat
Many attended the celebration of NACL's 20th Anniversary at the theatre's space in Highland Lake.
HIGHLAND LAKE - The North American Cultural Laboratory (NACL) celebrated a milestone anniversary last Saturday. The 20th Anniversary event was styled in the fashion of the arts that the collaborative, community changing theatre produces.
Starting outside of the former church in Highland Lake, which NACL calls home, the evening featured every element that makes a laboratory of art: political awareness, evocative and thoughtful performances, collaborative show development, a loving audience, wit, respect and wonder.
The first pieces - many on stilts - opened with Corinna Grunn and Isabel Braverman of the Catskill Dance Company. The following performances included Founding Artistic Directors Tannis Kowalchuk and Brad Krumholz, the NACL Streets Ensemble with 45 and his cabinet, Yurika Sase as Mother Earth, and Managing Director Tracy Broyles in an inter-audience piece.
The outdoor portion of the program concluded with a welcome from Kowalchuk and Krumholz, and an invitation inside the theatre space for food, drinks, cake, conversation, and a continuation of the program.

“I can't even begin to tell you what an enormous honor it is to have you all here,” said Krumholz.
While the many guests and supporters enjoyed dinner and drinks at tables adorned with freshly cut flowers, Paul Austin, late of the Liberty Free Theatre - was introduced as a “Sullivan County legend” and performed his spoken jazz riff as “the Naz” Lord Nazarene.
Sarah East Johnson performed feats of daring, including balancing an ax, a daisy, and then a ladder on her chin!
Introduced by actress Debra Winger, who will be featured in NACL's production “Courage” at Governor's Island, Krumholz and Kowalchuk took the celebrants through the story of the group, with Krumholz explaining that the theatre became theirs through a chance and opportune fax from McKean Real Estate, support of his parents, and much hard work. They rehabbed the once Catskill Actors Theatre and Lakewood House to produce the vision that is now the performance space and artists' residence.
“My work with NACL and Tannis and Brad is both predestined and unlikely. I can't imagine life without them, or it. ... From my heart, thank you,” Winger said.
“Thank you for letting us make theatre and make it the way we do … thank you for trusting us to make the idea of magic happen. It takes so many people. ... I want to keep making magic and theatre with you and to say things we have to say, especially now,” Kowalchuk explained.
The celebration continued into the evening with parts of the Weather Project and other productions. The group prepared for the upcoming presentation of “Courage,” an “immersive walking journey inside an imagined refugee camp occupied by stilt-patrolling soldiers” based on a Bertolt Brecht anti-war classic that will feature a dedicated cast of 25 performers. The new work, directed by Kowalchuk, is to be performed at the Apple Pond Farm in Callicoon Center August 18-20 and on Governors Island September 22-24.
Debra Winger will lead the group to Governors Island for its performances there. Information on other upcoming performances and more, visit their new website

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