WAM Theatre Announces 2018 Season

WAM Theatre Announces 2018 SeasonWAM Theatre's Artistic Director Kristen Van Ginhoven today announces plans for the company's 2018 season. The Berkshire-based professional theatre company celebrates its ninth year with a main stage co-production with Dorset Theatre Festival (Dorset, VT) starring Jayne Atkinson, a thought-provoking series of play readings, a premiere presentation of comedienne Alison Larkin's one-woman show, and various other special events, including hosting BerkChique for the first time and continuing with the Girls Ensemble education program.

"People all around the world are taking brave risks and pushing boundaries in order to effect positive change, and WAM's ninth season brings that effort onto the stage. This season's play selections showcases seven fresh and dynamic stories about inspiring women, all written and directed by women and even including some humor and lightness--something we at WAM have been aching for more of in today's world," van Ginhoven explained. "WAM is proud to continue to take action for women and girls in 2018 with our spirited storytelling and our impactful philanthropy."

FALL MAIN STAGE PRODUCTION: ANN BY Holland Taylor

WAM announced that this year, our fall main stage play will be Ann by Holland Taylor, starring Jayne Atkinson (TV's "House of Cards", "Madam Secretary"). The play is a co-production with Dorset Theatre Festival, where the show will play first, from August 29-September 1, 2018. WAM will present Ann in the Berkshires from October 19-28 at the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA. Ann will be directed by WAM Artistic Director Kristen Van Ginhoven.

A one woman tour-de-force, Ann is a hilarious and spirited portrait of Ann Richards, legendary Governor of Texas. Written by award-winning actress and writer Holland Taylor ("Two and a Half Men"), Ann is an inspiring play that brings us face to face with the complex, colorful, and captivating character, bigger than the state from which she hailed. In a year when an unprecedented number of women are running for political office, WAM Theatre is proud to present this revealing portrait performed by Emmy Award-winner, Tony Award-nominated and Berkshire favorite Jayne Atkinson.

"Kristen Van Ginhoven and WAM have long inspired me personally for the amazing work they do on behalf of women," shared Dina Janis, Artistic Director of Dorset Theatre Festival. "With the Festival's commitment to gender equity in theatre and to women's voices in particular, this project seemed like a perfect opportunity for collaboration between our theaters. Jayne Atkinson is arguably one of our nations finest actors, and a play written by the terrific Holland Taylor that celebrates one of my favorite political rock stars - Ann Richards - feels like a true celebration of all that is possible."

Performance schedule and ticket information for Ann will be released in the summer.

FRESH TAKES PLAY READING SERIES

The fifth season of WAM's Fresh Takes Play Reading Series presents a series of ground-breaking plays that are imaginative and thoughtful explorations of complex issues affecting women and girls, and feature local professional actors and directors.

"Fresh Takes 2018 continues WAM's commitment to connecting Berkshire audiences to female playwrights who are contributing to national and international theatre conversations," said Talya Kingston, WAM's new Associate Artistic Director, who also curated this year's readings. "Each of the plays was selected in order to provoke conversation, and the series includes post-reading discussions that promise to be vibrant!"

Fresh Takes kicks off on Sunday, April 15, at 3:30pm at No. 6 Depot Roastery and Café in West Stockbridge with Swallow by Stef Smith, directed by Talya Kingston. This hit of the 2015 Edinburgh Festival introduces us to three strangers who are about to face their demons head on. Balanced precariously on a tipping point, they may be able to save one another if they can overcome their urge to self-destruct. Questions of identity, heartbreak, and hope are explored with vivid, poetic intensity by one of Scotland's most talked about young playwrights. This is a Swan Day event (SWAN Day/Support Women Artists Now Day is an international holiday designed to showcase the power and diversity of women's creativity).

On Thursday, May 3, at 7:30pm, WAM will present a reading of The Virgin Trial by Kate Hennig, directed by Kelly Galvin, at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at Shakespeare & Company. This sequel to The Last Wife will reunite the director and many of the cast members from WAM's hit 2017 production of The Last Wife, including David Joseph and Alicia Piemme Nelson, who will reprise their roles as Tom and Bess. Kate Hennig continues her Tudor Queens Trilogy by cleverly exploring victim-shaming, sexual consent, and the extraordinary abilities of girls who are becoming women, as she reimagines the scandalous and little-known story of Elizabeth the First, before she was Queen.

On Sunday, June 10, at 3:30pm, WAM return to No. 6 Depot Roastery and Café in West Stockbridge for a reading of Honor Killing by Sarah Bierstock, directed by Molly Merrihew, curator of last year's Fresh Takes Series. In this play, Allisyn, an American reporter for the New York Times, heads to Pakistan to cover the honor killing of a young woman. Denied entrance, she conducts her investigation remotely from Dubai. Through a series of cultural collisions, candid interviews, and dangerous encounters, she learns the horrifying details of this murder. These circumstances cause Allisyn to re-examine troubling details of her own past and how one culture mirrors the other, asking questions about forgiveness, self-worth, and justice.

WAM collaborates with the Clark Art Institute for the Sunday, August 12, 2:00pm Fresh Takes reading of Pipeline by Dominique Morrisseau. Inspired by Michelle Alexander's best-seller, The New Jim Crow, Morrisseau tells a story of Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher who is committed to her students, but is also desperate to give her only son opportunities they will never have. When a controversial incident in his upstate private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent. Pipeline is Dominique Morrisseau's beautiful and deeply moving story of a mother's fight to give her son a future without turning her back on the community that made him who he is.

WAM wraps up the 2018 Fresh Takes Reading Series on Sunday, September 16, at 3:30pm at No. 6 Depot Roastery and Café in West Stockbridge with Escaped Alone, the latest play by one of Britain's greatest living playwrights, Caryl Churchill, directed by WAM Artistic Director Kristen Van Ginhoven. In the intimate setting of No. 6 Depot Roastery and Café, three elderly friends and a neighbor spend a series of summer afternoons in the backyard chatting, drinking tea while visions of apocalyptic horror play out inside their minds.

The Fresh Takes Series is sponsored in part by No. 6 Depot Roastery and Café in West Stockbridge where our readings of Swallow, Honor Killing, and Escaped Alone will be presented at 3:30pm on select Sundays. Due to popular demand, and to allow more audience members from across Berkshire County to attend, The Virgin Trial will be presented at Shakespeare & Company's Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre on Thursday, May 3, at 7:30pm, and the reading of Pipeline will be presented in the auditorium at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown on Sunday, August 12, at 2:00pm.

SPECIAL SPRING EVENT: Alison Larkin LIVE!

On Friday, May 4, and Saturday, May 5, internationally acclaimed comedienne, award-winning audiobook narrator, and bestselling author of The English American, Alison Larkin premieres her hilarious new show, Alison Larkin LIVE!, at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at Shakespeare & Company. There will be three performances: Friday, May 4, at 7:30pm, and Saturday, May 5, at 2pm and 7:30pm, with a panel discussion after the Saturday matinee, and a champagne reception with Ms. Larkin for VIP ticket holders on Saturday night. For more about Alison Larkin, visit http://alisonlarkin.com/

Larkin will talk about England, America, adoption, reunion, parenting, life in the Berkshires, and how to brew the perfect cup of tea. This night of laugh-out-loud comedy will be presented for one weekend only. Larkin has been hailed by The Times (London) as, "...hugely entertaining...marvelously light footed."

The performance will celebrate the audiobook release of Larkin's new AudioFile Earphones Award-winning recording of The English American, which also includes an interview and other bonus material.

"The show was performed once in preview at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center," shared Alison Larkin. "Since then, people have been asking me when it's going to premiere. I knew the answer when Kristen asked me if there was anything I'd like to do for WAM. I'm a big fan of the work WAM is doing and delighted to be doing this performance in May in the Berkshires."

Alison Larkin LIVE! Performance Dates and Times
Friday, May 4, 7:30pm - Performance
Saturday, May 5, 2:00pm - Performance (post-show panel)
Saturday, May 5, 7:30pm - Performance (post-show champagne reception with Ms. Larkin for VIP ticket holders in the Bernstein Lobby).

WAM GIRLS ENSEMBLE

WAM Theatre's Girls Ensemble is a performance group for girls aged 13-18. The ensemble creates an original performance using devised theatre methods. This summer, after two years of running the program during the school year, WAM will invite Girls Ensemble alumni and selected new participants to devise a brand new piece to be performed at our summer gala. As an extension of our mission to employ female theatre artists, we are proud to be able to compensate our summer Girls Ensemble members with stipends underwritten by the generosity of our sponsors. The Girls Ensemble will again attend an International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) Festival in Atlanta, this time in spring 2019.

SUMMER GALA

Save the date of Wednesday, July 25, for WAM's Midsummer Cocktail Party Benefit. The evening's guests will be the first to learn about the beneficiary of the fall production and will get to see an exclusive performance by the WAM Girls Ensemble.

This year, the gala will be held at the beautiful Berkshire Equestrian Center in Richmond, MA. Rolling hills, drinks on the porch, and philanthropy in action with the WAMily.

The Summer Gala will be hosted by actor Bill Bowers (Broadway's The Lion King, Scarlet Pimpernel). Bowers has received various 'Best of the Berkshires' nods for his acting and solo performance in the Berkshires. His solo works have also been produced off-Broadway and around the world. Bowers is hailed as one of the most accomplished and renowned mimes of his generation.

Bill Bowers also works as a theatre artist with the International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA), a sponsor of WAM's Girls Ensemble program. He has worked with ISTA throughout Europe and Asia. Of Bowers, the Washington Square News says, "...Bill Bowers is not your typical mime...he offers a taste of his life through a series of David-Sedaris-esque chronicles - sidesplittingly funny and tear-jerking at the same time...."

Tickets for the WAM Gala will go on sale in May.

COMMUNITY COLLABORATIONS

In 2018, WAM continues its collaborations with various community partners. This year, the WAM Education program will collaborate with Flying Cloud Institute in their after school programming. WAM will also partner with last year's beneficiary, the SOLDIER ON Women's Program, and with the ZONTA Club of Berkshire County, which works to empower women through service and advocacy. WAM will work with our community partners in different ways during the year in volunteer endeavours throughout Berkshire County.

In a new community collaboration this year, WAM will be hosting BerkChique, the Berkshires' annual pop-up fashion resale fundraiser. WAM has been a fortunate beneficiary of this event in the past, and this year, for the first time, WAM will host the event. BerkChique will take place May 11-13 at the former Country Curtains space in the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, MA.

"BerkChique is such a fun event -AND it is a triple win!" said Vicki Bonnington, longstanding BerkChique Event Chair and one of the driving forces behind BerkChique since its inception. "First, the clothing donors win by cleaning out their closets, knowing that their donation helps local nonprofits like WAM Theatre. Next, the BerkChique shoppers win by getting fabulous, gently-used garments and accessories at unbelievable prices - also knowing that every single dollar they spend will go to support nonprofits in their own community. Finally, the recipients like WAM win by receiving the proceeds from every item sold at BerkChique. Since its inception in 2012, BerkChique has donated over $150,000 to support local nonprofits."

To find out more about BerkChique, visit www.BerkChique.com

For more information about the 2018 Season and WAM Theatre's programs, events, and artists, please visit www.WAMTheatre.com.

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