The Steel Festival: The Art of an Industry, a multi-arts festival celebrating Bethlehem’s heritage of steel making with Cornerstone Theatre, musician Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock, storyteller Jay O’Callahan, and singer-songwriter Bob Franke, 1999. This community celebration, which received national media attention, included the performance of Steelbound in the original Bethlehem Iron Works Foundry.
The Don Quixote Project, a two year multi-faceted project inspired by the diverse South Side Bethlehem neighborhood and the desire to bridge the gap between the Anglo and Latino cultures, the adaptation, Don Quixote of Bethlehem, was born. The traveling performance or “theatricade” involved over 100 community participants and moved from Lehigh University through the streets of the SouthSide ending at St. Michael’s Cemetery. This project involved the following community partners: Bethlehem Area Public Library, Bethlehem Area School District, City of Bethlehem, Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, Holy Infancy Church, Lehigh University Art Galleries, Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre, Seniors Centers of Bethlehem, and South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center. Check out a scene from the show here.
The Lehigh Valley Black African Heritage History Project, In collaboration with Muhlenberg College, Lehigh County Senior Center, the Lehigh County Historical Society, Kutztown University, the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society, Touchstone collected over 50 oral histories from the Lehigh Valley’s oldest African American citizens and held 14 public story and song gatherings throughout the Lehigh Valley. These histories were archived and used, along with the material collected at the story and song gatherings, to produce an original play that gave voice to the experience of Lehigh Valley African Americans over the last one hundred years. This play, Another River Flows – stories, songs and a celebration of the Lehigh Valley Black Experience, performed in all three cities and was cast almost entirely by community actors. Click here to read a brief history of the project. Check out some video footage of this show on our youtube page.
The Civil War/Cemetery Project, produced in conjunction with Moravian College, and in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, led to a community-based play, written by Alison Carey playwright of Touchstone’s Steelbound. Titled A Resting Place, the show drew from the stories of individuals who lived and died in Bethlehem during the years of the War Between the States. More than 100 actors and support crew presented the play five times in different outdoor locations on Bethlehem’s North and South sides, over the three days in April of 2012—a gift to the community. The script was developed around Dan Rice, a traveling performer who was known for his wit and humor in the mid-1800s. He entertained people in both the North and South, changing his punch lines accordingly, and performed in Bethlehem during the Civil War with his traveling circus. Check out the process here.
Through the art of theatre we continue to craft opportunities for people to build relationships, explore new and old ideas and nurture each individual’s ability to play and create.
Read about Touchstone in two books: Jan Cohen Cruz’s Local Acts: Community-Based Performance in the United States, Rutgers University Press, and Ensemble Works, Edited by Ferdinand Lewis, TCG Publications.