Join the Touchstone Theatre as they present a 10-day festival of original theatre, dance, music, art, and conversation, designed to celebrate and imagine our future — through art — together.Festival UnBound will be hosted October 4-13, 2019 at venues throughout Bethlehem and the greater Lehigh Valley region. Though this event showcases new work, it hearkens back to a pivotal moment in local history.
In 1998,Bethlehem Steel ceased local production. To help the community work its way through this massive change, Touchstone Theatre created and assembled several works of art and cultural projects into a festival called Steel Festival, The Art of an Industry. Now, as October, 2019 approaches and the 20th anniversary since that extraordinary event, the community faces a challenge of a different and perhaps more daunting nature. Who are we, now that the Steel is gone? What are the challenges ahead, and what are the values that will hold the community together as we face the task of shaping our future? Festival UnBound seeks to inspire conversation while engaging community members.
Over the course of 10 days, the festival features more than 20 events, nearly half of which are free to the public. Various ticketing options including a festival pass are available as well. Event highlights of Festival UnBound include:
- Opening Ceremony (October 4, 5:30-7 p.m.) Outdoor live music, pageantry, drama, and civic pride are brought together to send off this extraordinary festival of arts and civic dialogue. The Opening Ceremony serves as a celebratory processional down the South Bethlehem Greenway that brings together audience and performer as we envision our future as a community.
- Prometheus / Redux (October 4-6, various times) Marking the 20th anniversary of Bethlehem Steel’s closing, and the seminal work “Steelbound” from our 1999 “Steel Festival,” “Prometheus/Redux” asks us how we define ourselves in the face of an ever-changing, ever more interconnected world. No longer “bound” to the steel industry, what has become of the proud steel-worker Prometheus, and our community, 20 years later?
- Cabaret (October 4-6 & 11-12, various times) Relax at an evening watering hole where the Festival audience can rendezvous and enjoy performances by some of the area’s unique musical and performing artists. Come to the Cabaret for food and drinks, ambiance, conversation, and more merrymaking antics. Each evening’s event will centralize around a different theme.
- Hidden Seed: Bethlehem’s Forgotten Utopia (October 5-10, various times) Dive into the hidden history of Bethlehem’s birth — a Moravian Utopia? Multiculturalism and women’s rights are sown into the soil of our remarkable egalitarian past. Hidden Seed shines light on our forebears’ lessons, and the treasures that grow from our roots.
- A Joyful Noise (October 6, 4-6 p.m.) The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, in collaboration with Nazareth Area High School Cantus, Camille Armstrong, Greater Shiloh Church Choir, Big Easy Easton Brass, Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts Touring Choir, Bel Canto Youth Chorus, and Jakopa’s Punch, explores how the collective act of choral singing and music making can bring people together and make the world a smaller place.
- Inside / Outside City (October 9, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.) Intrusions of the everyday into our remarkable lives– musical, recreational, and artistic events for public participation! Keep an eye out from the Amphitheater to the Pavilion and beyond for random acts of inclusion. This event features games, athletics, yoga, music making, open comics jam, poetry, and art making.
- To Hunt a Wild Utopia (October 9-12, various times) Inspired by local history and land, Agile Rascal Bicycle Touring Theatre is a roving troupe of champions for green transport, innovative performance, and adventure. Their new, original work, To Hunt a Wild Utopia, was commissioned for Festival UnBound and takes the audience on a wild theatrical bicycle ride through Bethlehem on a quest for Utopia. Route starts at The Charles A. Brown Ice House and is 2.5 miles long.
- Closing Ceremony (October 13, 5:30-7 p.m.) An outdoor extravaganza and gathering of our 21st century village, convening all of the Festival UnBound participants with music, play, and dance to share the art that’s been created. We’ll conclude the festival in song, spectacle, and hopes for a bright future with performances from various organizations.
For more information about Festival UnBound, including a full listing of events, click here. Learn more about the event, including ticketing and parking information, here.