WAM Theatre Announces Beneficiaries For Fall Mainstage Production Of PIPELINE
It was a picture perfect Berkshire evening on Wednesday, July 24, as WAM Theatre supporters packed The Stationery Factory in Dalton. They celebrated and supported the company's first decade of acclaimed theatrical productions and support of organizations that work to empower women and girls, at WAM's sold-out 10th Anniversary Gala, hosted by Berkshire favorite Ty Allan Jackson.
The full house was in a great mood enjoying the tasty hors d'oeuvres catered by The Marketplace and the delicious apple cider donuts from Hilltop Orchards in Richmond. Live and silent auctions added to the fun, in an event coordinated by Only In My Dreams Events.
The event raised funds for WAM's Education programs and the company's upcoming fall production of PIPELINE by Tony Award-nominated and Obie Award-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau, and directed by Dawn M. Simmons.
In this powerful and thought-provoking examination of race, class, and the American education system Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher committed to her students, and desperate to give her only son opportunities they'll never have, must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent when a controversial incident at his upstate private school threatens to get him expelled.
Gala participants were the first to learn the identity of the non-profits that will benefit from WAM's fall production of PIPELINE, which is being presented in partnership with local social justice organization Multicultural BRIDGE. In keeping with its double philanthropic mission, WAM Theatre will be donating a portion of the box office proceeds from PIPELINE to its 18th and 19th beneficiaries: Harmony Homestead & Wellness Center and the Women of Color Giving Circle.
"It's a great honor to be a beneficiary of this profound collaboration between WAM Theatre and BRIDGE," exclaimed Elizabeth Blackshine, Founder of Harmony Homestead & Wholeness Center. "Happy Anniversary WAM! Thank you for playing your part in uplifting women of color and families of color who deserve all our attention and support, now more than ever."
"The Women of Color Giving Circle is honored to collaborate with WAM Theatre and be a part of the WAMily!" said Leah Reed, a member of the Circle. "We are a unique organization in that we foster relationships that create a safe space for people to come to us individually or as a group, and identify what they need, and we act based on that. As WAM Theatre seeks to create opportunities for women and girls, we too seek to empower, uplift, and embolden our youth so that they may thrive in any environment."
The 2019 beneficiaries were chosen after a thoughtful and rigorous selection process, including a request for proposals and site visits, overseen by a committee at WAM consisting of Kristen Van Ginhoven (WAM Producing Artistic Director), Margaret Fluhr (WAM Board of Directors), Wendy Healey (WAM Board of Directors), and Lia Russell-Self (WAM Artist). Stephanie Wright of BRIDGE joined the committee this year as part of the WAM/BRIDGE partnership on PIPELINE.
"WAM's donation will allow Harmony Homestead & Wholeness Center to create and provide a horticulture therapy program for people of color. We also hope to purchase a vehicle to help increase attendance by families of color at our programs, which include meditation, re-evaluation counseling classes, cultural food growing, and nature immersion programs" explained Blackshine.
"This donation from WAM will help the Women of Color Giving Circle upgrade the educational tools we use our mentoring program for girls and their families." Reed said. "It will also help us facilitate and maintain connections with students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) students as we foster collaborative relationships by bringing them to the Berkshires to work with our youth."
"The WAM Beneficiary Committee is delighted that our selection of these two beneficairies means that we are supporting both the professional and spiritual development of what we hope are future educators of color in the Berkshires", van Ginhoven shared. "That made these two organizations the perfect beneficiaries for PIPELINE."
Another highlight of the Gala evening was the premiere of FRACTURED DREAMS, the new devised theatre piece created by the 2019 WAM Teen Ensemble and the new WAM Elder Ensemble. The performance is comprised of original writing, music, and movement on the theme of dreams and barriers to dreams, created by the Ensemble members during their two-week residence at The Foundry in West Stockbridge. The Ensembles are directed by WAM's Teaching Artists: Amy Brentano, Sara Katzoff, Talya Kingston, and Lia Rusell-Self.
Audience members rose to their feet after the premiere and Elder Ensemble participant Nancy Tunnicliffe shared, "The thing that makes me happiest about our collaborative work is that we struck a blow against ageism, which can exist in both directions, and by doing so, we became individuals to each other."
The celebratory Gala comes at the mid-way point in WAM's 10th Anniversary Season, with a successful world premiere of LADY RANDY, a Fresh Takes Reading of NATIVE GARDENS, and now the two Ensemble programs behind them, the company is looking ahead to the Fresh Takes Reading of PARADISE and its partnership with BRIDGE and collaboration with The Nora Theatre Company in Cambridge, MA, on PIPELINE in the fall.