By Larry Murray
The Emergent Ensemble Theatre is a new performing company we want to tell you about, and they are currently performing Annie Baker’s The Aliens in a back alley tunnel off the main drag in Housatonic. Word is, it’s wonderful. The unlikely humorous and heart-wrenching play is not in a theater, but being performed next to the Housatonic River at 430 Park St. It runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8pm through June 7.
For those who think theater has become the last refuge of the elderly and set-in-their-ways crowd, this new company is breaking all the traditions and reinventing the art form for a new generation of fearless explorers of life, drama and meaning. They are homegrown and have been using the Front Street Gallery in Housatonic as their rehearsal space, but when it came time to perform, they needed a very special space, one that would lend itself to Baker’s story.
They ultimately decided on a non-traditional venue, a tunnel attached to a historic mill building in Housatonic. It provides a perfect backdrop for the story. To quote the production’s director in The Berkshire Edge: “We thought about using a coffee shop, but discarded the idea quickly because the play is hyper-realistic. On the other hand, I didn’t want it to get lost in an outdoor space, either,” said Maizy Broderick Scarpa. “So we started searching for more traditional theaters. But while rehearsing in Housatonic we found this tunnel, and it was instantly clear that we had to perform here; not only does it provide the framing the play needs, but the entire company is completely energized by the space.”