March 'Tricks of the Trade' to Focus on Poltical Art, Pittsfield Event to Feature Reverend Billy on the Occupy Movement


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) announces its "Tricks of the Trade" series for the month of March will focus on political art, especially as it encourages social activism and political awareness in a community.

The next installment of this series will take place March 6-8, with three seminars to be held throughout Berkshire County. The events are free and open to the public. All seminars begin at 6:30 p.m.

On March 7, the Ferrin Gallery in Pittsfield will present Reverend Billy, who will "preach" on the Occupy movement, as well as his current "Fear of Banking" activist tour with his Church of Earthalujah. There will be a question and answer after the "sermon."

"I don't know what I preached.  I leaped and sang and I remember the recurring image of the sermon:  slyly orgasmic supermodels prancing up the runway 3,000 times a day straight into our third eye... that was the comi-tragic reprise. The domestic side of the violence in Iraq. The deadening of us consumers here stateside. We pay our taxes listlessly and release the wars into the distance," said Reverend Billy from "Occupy the Truth: The Whistlerblowers Conference."

William (Billy) Talen moved to New York City in 1994 where the experimental preacher began his career with other sidewalk preachers on Times Square. Specializing in exorcisms of sweatshop companies and opposing the Disneyfication of the neighborhood, he set up his portable pulpit at the door of the Mouse. Soon, "moral soap operas," also called "Retail Interventions," were staged inside the chain stores, particularly Disney, GAP, Nike and Starbucks. 

Reverend Billy has staged experimental plays and has published essays and poems in Philadelphia, New York and California. At "Life on the Water "theater, in San Francisco's Fort Mason Theater, Talen presented artists such as Spalding Gray, Mabou Mines, David Cale, B. D. Wong, Holly Hughes, William Yellow Robe, the Red Eye Collective, Reno, John Trudeau and Danny Glover reciting the works of Langston Hughes. 

This experience in producing led him to the confessional monologue. After studying with the cleric Reverend Sidney Lanier, Talen invented "a new kind of American preacher." 

"Reverend Billy is zany and energetic enough to hold the attention of those he's preaching to - average to extreme shoppers, many clueless as to what globalization means - long enough for them to consider his crusade," said Laura Kern of The New York Times.

Since 1999, Talen's project has expanded from a one-man performance artist preaching against consumerism in Times Square to a 40-person choir and five-person band, The Church of Earthalujah, with dozens of original songs, a critically acclaimed stage show, a major motion picture and multiple media platforms. The Church's performance community hails from all over the United States and the world.

The Church consists of all ages, races, and sexes. Together, they have demonstrated commitment to educating people about ever expanding commercialism and the over-consumption it demands. The Church maintains that consuming less is a critical, immediate step individuals can take toward halting the climate crisis.

Reverend Billy and his church are avid media makers, with two full length professionally produced CDs, three documentary films, including "What Would Jesus Buy," (2007) produced by Morgan Spurlock, which played on 125 screens in the U.S. and European television. An earlier film, "Preacher with an Unknown God," (2005) won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival

The Reverend and his choir have toured in Europe, Africa, South America and throughout North America. He has won the OBIE Award, The Dramalogue Award, The Historic Districts Council's Preservation Award (for leading demonstrations to save Manhattan's Poe House) and has been jailed more than 50 times.

To see a full schedule of the monthly "Tricks of the Trade" workshops or to download a free brochure, go to BCRC. For more information call: (413) 664-8718. To register, contact Valeria Federici, BCRC program coordinator, (413) 663-5253 or

Tricks of the Trade is presented by Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center and co-presented by Ferrin Gallery and IS183 Art School. This program is made possible with support by Appelbaum-Kahn Foundation, Excelsior and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.