Admirers of the Unison Arts and Learning Center have recently seen many reasons to feel heartened about the venerable venue’s prospects for staying on – reenergized with new blood on the Board of Directors, renovations in progress and some debt paid down – in its longtime location at 68 Mountain Rest Road west of New Paltz. While its fate remained in doubt last fall and winter, Unison’s former resident theatrical troupe, the Mohonk Mountain Stage Company, vacated in favor of a new home base at the Woodland Pond on the other side of town. Stepping into the void is another theater entity with deep roots in Ulster County: Actors & Writers, now taking up residency at Unison following a busy summer of live readings at the Maverick in Woodstock.
Now celebrating their 25th anniversary season, Actors & Writers launch their first season as playmakers-in-residence at Unison this Saturday with a “supernatural whodunit” set in the eerie Yorkshire Dales of England in 1949. Authored by member Katherine Burger, Down the Rushy Glen takes its title from “The Fairies,” a 19th-century poem by William Allingham, which alludes to a lass named Bridget being kidnapped by the Wee Folk and held prisoner at the bottom of a lake. Whether faeries or someone more corporeal are to blame for the disappearance of a 13-year-old girl is the psychological thriller’s chilling premise.
Whether your enjoyment of the Halloween season hinges more on its Pagan roots in a twilight realm where the veil between worlds is thinner than usual, or on more contemporary wallows in gore pursued by chainsaw-wielding cinema villains, Down the Rushy Glen sounds like a pleasurable way to raise some goosebumps this weekend. The cast includes Sarah Chodoff, Brian Macready, Mark St. Germain, Nicole Quinn, Dannah Chaifetz, Shelley Wyant, Mary Gallagher, Carey Harrison, Michael Hunold, Zoe Harvey and Jake Heenan.
The show begins at 8 p.m. on October 24, with admission by a suggested donation at the door of $10 (give more if you can and help Unison afford to install a water treatment system or pave its parking lot). For more information, call Unison at (845) 255-1559 or visit www.unisonarts.org or www.actorsandwriters.com.