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The Mahaiwe’s Mix-Master: 20 Questions for Beryl Jolly

Rural Intelligence: Community: Passages Image

Beryl Jolly with hunky trumpeter Chris Botti; photo by Stephen Donaldson

Beryl Jolly, the executive director of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, has been at the historic theater since its grand renovation and reopening in 2005.   Before joining the Mahaiwe, Jolly was the director of individual giving and development at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)  and a general management associate at The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, which helps explain her eclectic taste and instinct for programming for a sophisticated audience. The Mahaiwe’s lineup is all about the mix, and Jolly has recently presented Rufus Wainwright, Chris Botti, Judy Collins, MOMIX, and hosted readings by the Berkshires Playwrights Lab. The Mahaiwe has ongoing partnerships with Symphony Space’s Selected Shorts and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and regulalry sells out the Metropolitan Opera “Live in HD” broadcasts.  Here’s how Jolly, who lives in Lee with her husband, Matthew Adelson, and two children, makes the most of rural living.

Rural Intelligence Community1. Where do you go when you crave solitude?
In the middle of a workday, it’s Housatonic River Walk.  If I have an hour or two on a weekend, it’s straight up October Mountain.

2. Where do you go when you crave buzz?
I survive on a lot of caffeine, so I frequent all of the coffee shops from Lee to Great Barrington—Cakewalk, Uncommon Grounds, Daily Bread, Rubi’s and Fuel—but not usually all on the same day.

3. What’s your favorite historical site?
I’m on the board of the Housatonic Heritage Area and I’ve learned so much about the wealth of historical sites in our region.  Everything from the African-American Heritage Trail (as I type this, I’m looking outside my office window in Great Barrington at Clinton AME Zion Church) to the Performing Arts Trail, Iron Heritage Trail and Paper Heritage Trail that’s currently developing.

Rural Intelligence Community4. What’s your favorite library or bookstore?
For quiet moments of browsing, Yellow House Books in downtown GB, and the Bookloft; for after-school visits, the Stockbridge and Lee libraries.


5. What’s your favorite way to spend a Friday night?
I’m very happy when we have an exciting show at the Mahaiwe and there’s an enthusiastic crowd dancing in the aisles or cheering from their seats. Even better, though, is when I’m reading my daughters their bedtime stories on the couch.

6. What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday morning?
Sleeping in!  And then pancakes or waffles with the family. My cousin makes fantastic maple syrup at Mountain Valley Maple Farm in southern Vermont, and we go through a lot of it.

Rural Intelligence Community7. What do you buy for yourself when you need a treat and want to splurge?
Ice cream at SoCo, chocolate at Chocolate Springs or a little spa day at Michele’s Salon & Day Spa.  Also Jane Iredale products at FaceHaven and Studio Day Spa... Come to think of it, I think I’m overdue on all fronts; better work on that!

8. What’s your favorite one-hour drive from your house?
After 20 years of living on the west coast, my parents, Carol and Bill Jolly, moved to Chesterfield, MA, in the Pioneer Valley when we came to the Berkshires four years ago.  They’ve been a terrific support system and are spending more time with their grandkids now every month than we used to have together each year.  And the 60-minute distance is just right for all of us. We attend the Chesterfield Fourth of July Parade and Cummington Fair every summer.

Rural Intelligence Arts9. Where’s your favorite place to hear live music?
There’s a very special theater in Great Barrington that has beautiful acoustics and a dynamic line-up of shows,
year-round!

10. What’s your favorite place for bargain hunting?
I love vintage clothes—my wedding dress was from 1905—andI have a few special spots in Brooklyn that I return to on nostalgic shopping expeditions.

11. Who do you trust to recommend wines? 
Nejaime’s and Ed Domaney have always been very helpful

12. What’s your favorite hardware store?
It’s always fun to pop into Carr’s and get that hardware store smell, browse paint chips for when we finally paint our living room.
Rural Intelligence Community
13. Where do you shop for clothes?  Do you have a favorite salesperson?

Said at Main Street is always helpful, and I love darting into Karen Allen Fiber Arts, Petria, and Homeward Bound for creative inspiration.

14. What three things do you always do with out-of-town guests?

After picking them up at Wassaic,  we often visit Berkshire Pottery in Hillsdale (my in-laws first bought pottery there almost forty years ago) and walk through Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield. I also like to take visitors to the gardens at The Mount.

15. What’s your favorite theatre? 
There’s only one Mahaiwe Theater and I feel pretty privileged to be running it!  I earned my stripes at The Public Theater/ New York Shakespeare Festival and Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), which have some pretty special theaters within their halls as well.


Rural Intelligence Community 16. Where’s your favorite place for breakfast? 
Martin’s, Great Barrington Bagel and Rubi’s.

17. What newspapers, blogs, websites do you read every day?
The world is becoming so internet-oriented; I readily check Rural Intelligence, The Rogovoy Report, ArtsJournal, as well as the Berkshire Eagle, New York Times and Google News.  It’s all about multi-tasking!

18. How many Facebook friends and/or Twitter followers do you have?
I’m afraid once I start I won’t be able to stop—so I haven’t started.  The Mahaiwe has about 700 Facebook friends.

Rural Intelligence Community19. Who are your local heroes?
My folks, Carol and Bill Jolly, are number one. They have always been role models on how to make the world a better place, with integrity; how to balance work and family—with family as the first priority; how to confront tough decisions and make the best choices given the reality of the circumstances.

Also, I wouldn’t be here in the Berkshires, and the Mahaiwe wouldn’t be enjoying its current renaissance, without Lola Jaffe. Her vision, intelligence and perseverance makes all things possible and her energy and generosity of spirit are truly remarkable. So many other inspiring individuals live in this region and dedicate countless hours and efforts to wonderful causes -they are all part of the fabric that makes this community so extraordinary.

20. What five things are you most looking forward to doing this summer?
Camping and hiking, visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Burlington, hearing my daughters’ summer camp stories every night, seeing the shows my husband, Matthew Adelson (photo) is lighting at Berkshire Theatre Festival, and welcoming folks to the Mahaiwe!

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 07/01/09 at 01:34 PM • Permalink