When I walked into the WilliNet studios on Spring Street in Williamstown last August, I had two shows in mind that I felt could widen the public's view of performing arts. I talked with Executive Director Debby Dane about what I wanted to do. She helped me hone my concepts, and connected me with people who could help me.
Brad Baumes, the Production Manager at WilliNet, taught me how to man the control booth, which I thought was pretty intimidating when I started. After lots of practice on my own shows, though, I feel fairly confident with the equipment. He also introduced me to the editing system, so I can now process my own show. All of this was free. And we've had great help from local people like Deb Schneer and Sharon Wyrrick on the camera.
The first program is called "After Images," a series of community conversations about films that had recently been shown at Images Cinema - Williamstown's only movie theater. Seeing a movie is just the start of the film experience, but chatting about it and teasing out the nuances of its meaning is really enriching and fun.
So I put out a call for people who wanted to be included, and rounded up a host, Anna Moriarty-Lev, who directed the conversations. From the first, we had an enthusiastic response. And because we're discussing films that anyone can see on DVD after their general release, "After Images" can be played and accessed forever.
Some of the movies we've discussed so far are "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Argo," "Ruby Sparks" and "The Master." "After Images" episodes are all online at willinet.org, so they can be accessed at any time.
On Oscar day, Feb. 24, WilliNet will be playing all the episodes back to back from 1 to 5 p.m. on channel 17 in Williamstown. It's a great way to recall some of the nominees and to celebrate our national "Film Day."
In addition, I hope that viewers will be encouraged to start "movie groups" with their friends to carry on the tradition of exploring films outside the theater.
The second show, "Play Cafe," features a series of table readings of scenes from new plays by a variety of playwrights. The process is much as it would be in a theater company. Actors read from scripts around a table, and then the host and playwright talk about the process, inspiration and logistics for the play. The show provides an opportunity for the general public to see how plays get made, and introduces working playwrights to them. It's an exciting chance to watch theater morph. The host so far has been Brian Cabral, but the new year will bring in a new host.
I was delighted to get a grant from the LCC this year to help keep "Play Cafe" going. Both shows have regular broadcast schedules, and air several times a week on channel 17.
After Images airs:
Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
Friday at 9 p.m.
Saturday at 11 p.m.
Twice on Sunday
9 a.m. at 11 p.m.
Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tuesday at 9 p.m.
Thursday at 1 p.m.
Friday at 11 a.m.
Saturday at 10 p.m.
Visit willinet.org for a complete program listing.