WAM Theatre Announces 2017 Season

By: Feb. 28, 2017
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WAM Theatre's Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven announced plans for the company's 2017 season today. The Berkshire-based professional theatre company celebrates its eighth year with two Main Stage productions, a thought-provoking series of play readings, and several exciting new collaborations and initiatives.

"In a time when the courage to stand up for one's beliefs is paramount, WAM is re-energized to be a place where Arts and Activism Meet," van Ginhoven explained. "Our 2017 season bravely explores a broad range of perspectives around issues affecting women and girls. Now, more than ever, we must listen carefully, act thoughtfully and speak out bravely. WAM is proud to take action for women and girls through our spirited storytelling and our impactful philanthropy."

Already this year WAM was honored to be one of the organizers of the official Pittsfield Sister March Event in Solidarity with the Women's March on Washington, held at the Colonial Theatre on January 21. More than 1,600 people came through the theatre to make art, learn about local activist groups, watch a live-stream of events from DC, and enjoy a reading by regional artists and writers.


Just last week the Second Cohort of the WAM Girls Ensemble out of school program presented their original devised theatre piece, What's That Sound? at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at Shakespeare & Company. Under the leadership of WAM teaching artists Amy Brentano, Barby Cardillo, and their assistant, Lia Russell-Self, the girls have been rehearsing since the beginning of the year to create this piece which tackles questions about identity, race, gender, fear, age, history, and protest.

The Girls Ensemble will attend an International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, March 16-19. There they will join students from schools around the world to spend three days devising theatre around the theme of race, inclusion, prejudice, and oppression.

After they return, the girls will tour What's That Sound? to local schools and present another free public performance on April 8 at the Spectrum Playhouse in Lee.


We kick off our fourth season of Fresh Takes Play Readings on Sunday, March 12 with The Flora and Fauna by Alyson Mead, directed by Fresh Takes Curator and WAM Artistic Associate, Molly Clancy. The play, which chronicles the celebrations and challenges of a female friendship that spans almost 30 years, is the winner of the Arizona-based Bridge Initiative: Women in Theatre New Work Contest.

"I'm excited about our national collaboration with The Bridge Initiative and our local partnership with The Berkshire Festival of Women Writers who will receive a portion of the box office proceeds from this first reading," Clancy said.

The season continues with Really by Jackie Sibblies Drury, directed by Alice Reagan, on Sunday, May 7; and The Droll by Meg Miroshnik, directed by van Ginhoven and co-produced with local professional actor Jennie Jadow, on June 4. Reagan directed last summer's acclaimed production of Or, at Shakespeare & Company, where Jadow is a long-time actress and Theatre Educator.

"The Droll is a play that has captured my attention and imagination for quite some time, and when Kristen expressed her long-standing interest in the piece as well, a collaboration naturally followed," Jadow explained. "The play's central theme of awakening a child to the power of theatre, so that a future generation can carry forth an awareness of culture and art, even in the darkest of times, and, potentially, at great personal cost, highlights for me the active role of the artist in our society."

Sponsored by The No. Six Depot Roastery and Café in West Stockbrige, with additional support from the Dramatists Guild Fund, the Fresh Takes Series occurs on select Sundays at 3:30 pm and features a talk-back with the cast and director following the play reading.


In another exciting collaboration for WAM's 2017 Season, Williamstown Theatre Festival will be hosting a WAM Theatre Fresh Takes play reading this summer - stay tuned for more details.

Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director of Williamstown Theatre Festival said, "We are thrilled to host Kristen van Ginhoven and WAM for a reading at the Festival this summer. We look forward to supporting her wonderful work to benefit women and girls."

Further information about the date, time and specific location of this reading will be forthcoming.


A critical and popular success our 2013 production of Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight by Lauren Gunderson, directed by van Ginhoven, returns with its entire original cast for a two week run at the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare & Company. The first preview is on March 30 and the Opening Night/Press Night will be on Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 pm. After that the show runs through April 9. This production is sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union. A special weekday matinee for school groups, sponsored by Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, is planned for April 6 at 3 pm.

"I'm not only honored to have WAM re-mount Emilie..., I'm inspired," Gunderson wrote. "WAM's commitment to powerful stories combined with their artistic excellence and their civic impact makes me want to write more plays like Emilie... about complex women changing the world. WAM truly manifests my belief that theatre actively and intentionally changes hearts, minds, and the future of a thoughtful and empathetic nation."

Emilie du Chatelet is best known for her fifteen-year liaison with Voltaire but she was more than a great man's mistress. She was one of the leading interpreters of modern physics during the Age of Enlightenment. In this play Emilie must defend her life by tallying her achievements in Love and Philosophy-and searching for a formula that will convince the world of her worth.

This is the first of three WAM events that will take place on the Shakespeare & Company campus in 2017. Artistic Director Allyn Burrows states: "We are delighted to host WAM for three exciting programs this year, and are honored to be able to provide a venue to a company whose mission is vitally important to the community at large."

WAM's 2013 production was hailed as "Highly entertaining and highly imaginative" by the Berkshire Eagle. Berkshire Fine Arts deemed it "An absorbing evening of theatre for a sold-out audience." This remount features the original cast: Suzanne Ankrum, Brendan Cataldo, Joan Coombs, Kim Stauffer and Oliver Wadsworth.

In keeping with WAM's double philanthropic mission, a portion of proceeds will be donated to this production's beneficiary: Flying Cloud Institute. WAM's donation will support scholarships for public school girls who attend Flying Cloud's after school Girls Science Clubs, so girls who show promise and interest in science can join the Young Women in Science summer programs where they conduct experiments with women scientists and engineers working in laboratories at Bard College at Simon's Rock.

WAM and Flying Cloud Institute also have support from Mass Humanities to engage 25 girls who attend Reid Middle School in Pittsfield and are part of Flying Cloud's after school STEAM Team. These girls will conduct science experiments and participate in theater activities that will heighten their appreciation when they attend a matinee of Emilie..... on April 6th, that features a panel of women scientists after the show.


WAM is doing it again! Save the date of Wednesday, July 12 for our 3rd Annual Stars in the Orchard Summer Gala at Hilltop Orchards - a magical midsummer night's cocktail party with wonderful music, stellar entertainment, delicious food, and wine made on site by Furnace Brook Winery. The evening's guests will be the first to learn about the fall production and beneficiary. As part of the entertainment this year, award winning audiobook narrator, bestselling novelist and comedienne Alison Larkin will read a short excerpt from her new audiobook Fairytales of the Fiercer Sex.

These are the fairytales of strong, brave, independent, and, at times, irreverent girls and women who take charge of their lives, go on their own adventures, rescue themselves and sometimes even save the men they love. A perfect fit for a WAM evening!


We are excited to announce WAM will be hosting the first pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit - an event for women aspiring to leadership positions in the non-profit theatre in both artistic and operational tracks - on October 28 & 29, 2017 in the Elayne P. Bernstein Center at Shakespeare & Company.

Kristen van Ginhoven attended the Women's Leadership Conference in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater in August 2016. Inspired by that experience, the idea was born to create The Berkshire Leadership Summit to continue the work of shifting consciousness and perception around women and leadership in the non-profit theatre world. This first pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit is informed and supported by the research that American Conservatory Theater commissioned from the Wellesley Centers for Women. The HowlRound blogpost about the study can be found at: http://howlround.com/women-s-leadership-research-results-and-recommendations

This inaugural two-day, in person, pilot Summit will provide deep-dive, nuts and bolts sessions into four areas that female theatre professionals identified as main barriers to leadership positions: Fundraising, Producing, Building Relationships, and Building Awareness/Creating Opportunity.

The Summit has three central aims: providing participants with an experience that grows their network of allies, enriching vocabulary that supports the current industry while advocating for their future as women leaders, and expanding concrete skills to apply on their path to leadership.

The steering committee for the Summit, who all joined forces at the August Women's Leadership Conference in San Francisco, is Akiba Ababa, audience development manager at ArtsEmerson (Boston), Rachel Fink, Managing Director at Theatre Bay Area (San Francisco), Shafer Mazow, Senior Grants Manager at The Exploratorium (San Francisco) and Kristen van Ginhoven, Artistic Director of WAM Theatre (Berkshires).

Additional details on this first pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit will be announced by WAM Theatre in the coming months and will be available at: http://www.wamtheatre.com/berkshire-leadership-summit-2017/


We are delighted to announce that this year our fall Main Stage play will be a the Northeast regional premiere of The Last Wife by Canadian playwright Kate Hennig, which WAM first presented as a Fresh Takes Play Reading in 2016. This is the first Fresh Takes play reading to be selected for a Mainstage Production. The show begins previews on October 13, and closes on November 5 at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at Shakespeare & Company.

A contemporary retelling of the compelling relationship between Henry VIII and his sixth wife, Katherine Parr, The Last Wife is a funny, powerful examination of patriarchy, sexual politics, and women's rights. The play had its premiere on August 14, 2015 at the Stratford Festival of Stratford, Ontario, where it played to sold-out houses and had several extensions.

Kate Parr is smart, confident, and passionate: a rising star in a world of intense competition. But her obligatory marriage to Henry is rife with the threat of violence and lure of deceit; her secret liaisons with Thom, her husband's former brother-in-law, could send her to an early grave; and her devotion to the education and equal rights of Henry's daughters is putting an even bigger strain on her marriage. Does Kate risk her life to gain authority in both her relationship and her political career? Which love will she be led to if she follows her heart? And what kind of future is there for her children if she makes a crucial mistake?

"I hope the theatre audience in the Berkshires -- a region recognized (even by your Canadian cousins) for its abundance of arts and culture, and steeped in its own rich and complex history -- will enjoy the story of Katherine Parr from many perspectives," Hennig said. "They'll see how perfectly Kate's actions echo the WAM mandate 'to benefit girls and women', and the provocative nature of taking such action in the current political climate."

In another new collaboration, WAM Theatre will bring a reading of The Last Wife to the Nora Theatre in Boston in October as a special event.

"The Award winning Nora Theatre, helmed by Artistic Director Lee Mikeska Gardner, has a mission that includes sharing works that speak with a feminine voice on human concerns and endeavors," van Ginhoven explained. "A fitting collaborator for WAM, we look forward to bringing a reading version of our production of The Last Wife to Boston in October."

In keeping with WAM's double philanthropic mission, a percentage of the box office proceeds from WAM's production of The Last Wife will be donated to an organization that creates opportunity for women and girls. The beneficiary of this production will be announced at the July 12th Stars in the Orchard Summer Gala.


March 12

Fresh Takes Play Reading

The Flora and Fauna

by Alyson Mead

Winner of the Arizona-based Bridge Initiative: Women in Theatre New Work Contest

directed by Molly Clancy

Sunday, March 12 at 3:30 pm - talkback following

at No. 6 Depot Roastery & Café, 6 Depot Street, West Stockbridge, MA

Admission $20

A portion of box office proceeds will be donated to the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers

March 30-April 9

Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight

by Lauren Gunderson

directed by Kristen van Ginhoven

Featuring Suzanne Ankrum, Brendan Cataldo, Joan Coombs, Kim Stauffer and Oliver Wadsworth

March 30 & 31, April 1, 7 & 8 at 7:30 pm

April 1, 2, 8 & 9 at 2 pm

April 6 at 3 pm

Presented at the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare & Company

70 Kemble Street, Lenox MA

Tickets from $10-$40


A portion of box office proceeds will be donated to the Flying Cloud Institute

April 8

WAM Girls' Ensemble

What's That Sound?

Friday, April 8 at 7:30 pm

at the Spectrum Playhouse

20 Franklin Street, Lee MA

Admission free

Suitable for ages 10+

May 7

Fresh Takes Play Reading


by Jackie Sibblies Drury

directed by Alice Reagan

Sunday, May 7 at 3:30 pm - talkback following

at No. 6 Depot Roastery & Café, 6 Depot Street, West Stockbridge, MA

Admission $20

June 4

Fresh Takes Play Reading

The Droll

by Meg Miroshnik

Directed by Kristen van Ginhoven

Co-produced with Jennie Jadow

Sunday, June 4 at 3:30 pm - talkback following

at No. 6 Depot Roastery & Café, 6 Depot Street, West Stockbridge, MA

Admission $20

July 12

3rd Annual Stars in the Orchard Summer Gala

Wednesday, July 12 at 6:30 pm

At Hilltop Orchards,508 Canaan Road, Richmond, MA

Date TBA

The Williamstown Theatre Festival hosts a WAM Fresh Takes Play Reading

Date & Time TBA

Location TBA

October 28-29, 2017

Berkshire Leadership Summit

in the Elayne P. Bernstein Performing Arts Center at Shakespeare & Company

Additional details as they become available can be found at: http://www.wamtheatre.com/berkshire-leadership-summit-2017/

October13-November 5

The Last Wife

by Kate Hennig

Northeast Regional Premiere

Director TBA

Dates: October 13 - November 5, 2017

Presented at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, at Shakespeare & Company

A portion of box office proceeds will be donated to a beneficiary to be announced at our July WAM Gala

Date TBA

Reading of The Last Wife

at the Nora Theatre Company in Boston


WAM Theatre is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; and by the Massachusetts Cultural Council Cultural. Our 2017 sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Berkshire Magazine, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, Blue Q, Brabson Library & Educational Foundation, Canyon Ranch, Custom Business Solutions, The Dramatists Guild Fund, The Dylandale Foundation, The Feigenbaum Foundation, Futures Education, the Garden Gables Inn, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Guido's Fresh Marketplace, In Touch Printing, International Schools Theatre Association, Interprint, Dr. Jay Wise, DDS & Dr. Casey Jones, DMD, Lee Bank, Massachusetts Cultural Council, MAXYMILLIAN Technologies, Methuselah Bar and Lounge, No. Six Depot Roastery and Café, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, RB Design Co., The Rookwood Inn, Rouge Restaurant & Bistro, The Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, T Square Design Studio, and a. von schlegell & co.

WAM Theatre is also supported in part by grants from the Alford-Egremont Cultural Council, Dalton Cultural Council, Lenox Cultural Council, New Marlborough Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Cultural Council of Northern Berkshires, Otis Cultural Council, Richmond Cultural Council, Sandisfield Cultural Council, Stockbridge Cultural Council, Washington Cultural Council and West Stockbridge Cultural Council - local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


Based in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, WAM Theatre is Where Arts and Activism Meet. The company was co-founded in 2010 by Canadian director, actor, educator, and producer Kristen van Ginhoven. WAM's vision is to create opportunity for women and girls through the mission of theatre as philanthropy.

Inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from its theatrical events to organizations that benefit women and girls.

Since 2010, WAM Theatre has donated more than $30,000 to eleven nonprofit organizations and provided paid work to more than 200 theatre artists. In addition to the main stage productions and special events, WAM Theatre's activities include a comprehensive educational outreach program and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. For more information, visit www.WAMTheatre.com


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