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WAM Theatre Commemorates Banned Books Week With Free Conversation Series

The series is presented in connection with WAM Theatre's upcoming production of CADILLAC CREW.

WAM Theatre Commemorates Banned Books Week With Free Conversation Series

WAM Theatre has announced a series of lively conversations with scholars, artists, and community members who will tell the true stories of Black and Indigenous Women who were Civil Rights pioneers. These FREE events will take place throughout Berkshire County, and in collaboration with The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, and Stockbridge Library. The series is presented in connection with WAM Theatre's upcoming production of CADILLAC CREW and is funded by the Brabson Library and Educational Foundation.

This special series of conversations is taking place as part of Banned Books Week (September 18-24). The week is a timely effort to underscore the vital role of historically and presently banned books in school curriculum, public education, and access. The Erased Histories conversation series will feature scholars, artists, and community leaders telling true stories that are often missing from history books. We invite you to join us in listening to live and original retellings of stories that changed the face of history.

Our honored speakers will include: Indigenous Historian Heather Bruegl (Oneida/Stockbridge-Munsee), Storyteller Onamuni Jean Moss, Community Leader Gwendolyn VanSant (CEO and Founder of Multicultural BRIDGE), Professor Frances Jones-Sneed, Dr. Eden-Reneé Hayes, Storyteller, Inspirational Speaker Amber Chand, and Artist/Educator Nicole M. Young-Martin.

WAM Theatre is thrilled to be partnering with libraries throughout Berkshire County to present the conversations in free and easily accessible public spaces. WAM's partners on this series include Berkshire Athenaeum (Pittsfield, MA), Clark Art Institute Auditorium (Williamstown, MA), and the Stockbridge Library Association (Stockbridge, MA). We join together for Banned Book Week to celebrate the power of storytelling as a way to uplift voices that have been historically silenced.

"Libraries are constantly considering our responsibilities to both preservation and access, so we are acutely aware of the dangers of both intentional and unintentional erasure," said Alex Reczkowski, Library Director of Berkshire Athenaeum. "Last year, through erasure poetry workshops with interdisciplinary poet and author S. Erin Batiste, we explored the concept of erasure directly, and we are excited for the opportunity to deepen that exploration with WAM."

"We are excited to be collaborating with WAM Theatre on this series of conversations highlighting erased histories," said Wendy Pearson, the Director of the Stockbridge Library, when explaining the importance of Banned Books week. "In 2021, the American Library Association received the highest number of book challenges on record. These challenges have predominantly focused on books that address issues of racial justice, LGBTQ themes, and the voices of the BIPOC community. Please join us for these timely and important conversations."

Will Schmenner, the new Director of Public Programs at The Clark Art Institute, echoed this sentiment, stating that: "The Clark is thrilled to be collaborating with WAM during Banned Book Week in September. Not only is it a wonderful opportunity to support local theatre, it is also an important program that focuses our attention on censorship and justice."

For more information about WAM Theatre's Community Engagement work and production of CADILLAC CREW, please visit wamtheatre.com

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