Curtain Rises: Touchstone reimagines ‘America’
BY KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS
Special to The Press
Touchstone Theatre of Bethlehem is introducing an experimental performance that combines a drag show and art installation and will be presented in person, but socially-distanced.
“An Imagined America” will be presented between 5 and 9:30 p.m. April 9 and 1 and 9:30 p.m. April 10, Fine Art Galleries, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Allentown Arts Walk, 21 N. Seventh St., Allentown.
The performance is created by Adam Ercolani of Bethlehem. Ercolani is an apprentice at Touchstone Theatre and a 2021 candidate for a master’s degree in Moravian College’s MFA program. The play was written as part of Ercolani’s thesis.
The performance takes place over 45 minutes with just five guests allowed in the gallery at a time.
According to Ercolani, the show is “bringing history to life through a re-imagination of what America is, was, and can or may be.”
The show features performances by two regionally-known drag queens, Majestee Crowne Le’Vixenn of Reading and Rogue-Star Givenchy of Allentown.
“From the get-go, I knew I wanted this project to focus on the medium of drag performance since it provides a unique way to recontextualize the historical moments we’re looking at,” Ercolani says.
“Drag performers are notorious for their ability to capture a room and really kill it with what they’re bringing to the table,” says Ercolani.
The show is a performance piece and an art installation that is a study of human bias and behavior, says Ercolani.
“It’s a dissection of American identity: the good, the bad and the ugly,” Ercolani says. “Audiences and actors alike will be left asking themselves what exactly America is and what they want America to be.”
Ercolani envisions “An Imagined America” engaging Lehigh Valley audiences in a new way, and providing them with a new lens with which to view society.
He hopes the piece will help the community “understand the challenges those unlike them face, and perceive ways in which they feed into the system of which they are inherently a part.”
“An Imagined America” is presented in partnership with City Center Allentown and the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.
City Center Allentown is a major mixed-use development that is helping transform downtown Allentown into a regional center of excellence for business, culture and city living.
The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center provides arts, health, youth and pride programs to strengthen and support the LGBTQ community in the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Ercolani has been involved in the performance and production of more than 40 theatrical productions throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, as an intern with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, as a coordinator for the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, and as an apprentice and intern at Touchstone Theatre.
He was seen in “Aloud,” which he created for Touchstone’s Festival UnBound 2020; “Fresh Voices,” and Touchstone’s “Christmas City Follies.”
He is a member of the first graduating class in the Master of Fine Arts in Performance Creation launched in 2019 by Moravian College and Touchstone Theatre as part of the graduate degree programs offered by Moravian.
The master’s degree is the first of its kind in the region and offers students an accelerated, full-time, two-year program that includes hands-on theater creation and performance.
Tickets for “An Imagined America” are limited and there will be staggered entrance times for only five patrons at a time. Attendees are asked to arrive 15 minutes before their slotted entrance time. Masks are required. Part of the performance will take place in the gallery and part of it will take place just outside the gallery. In the event of rain, the full event will take place indoors. Tickets are free with donations accepted.
Tickets: www.touchstone.org, 610-867-1689
“Curtain Rises” is a column about the theater, stage shows, the actors in them and the directors and artists who make them happen. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, firstname.lastname@example.org