by Kali Cozyris
Each summer, Dell'Arte International sets the stage(s) for five weeks of performances known collectively as the Mad River Festival. The school's annual showcase of original plays, comedy, street theater, live music and family fun is back for its 27th year June 15 through July 15 and, as always, has something for everyone. If you haven't been, make this your year. It's world-class theater, music, comedy and larger-than-life theatrical thrills right here in sunny Blue Lake.
Starting things off is the festival's main stage show and Dell'Arte world premiere, The State of Jefferson Picnic: This land is your land, but mostly my land, a new political farce with music, song and laughs playing Thursdays through Sundays, June 15 - July 2 at 8 p.m. at the Rooney Amphitheatre ($10-$18).
Other festival highlights include the Big Top Family Series: Cowgirl Tricks featuring "America's Funniest Cowgirl" Karen Quest, returning for her second year whip-cracking her way in the Pierson Pierson Big Hammer Tent, June 18 at 2 p.m. ($10, $5 12 and under). The festival's Mad Lab 1 and Mad Lab 2 performances offer a glimpse of the "work-in-progress" of experimental theater created by Dell'Arte faculty and alumni on June 21 (Mad Lab 1) and June 28 (Mad Lab 2) in the Carlo Theatre at 8 p.m. (pay-what-you-can), followed by more original plays by international Dell'Arte MFA graduates (see www.dellarte.com for full festival schedule), and ending with the rousing, foot stomping Humboldt Folklife Festival, July 8-15, a week of folk music events culminating in a free all-day festival at the Rooney Amphitheatre on July 15.