WAM Theatre Sets 2016 Season

WAM Theatre's Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven announced plans for the company's 2016 season today. The Berkshire-based professional theatre company celebrates its seventh year with some notable special events, a thought-provoking series of play readings, and an exciting new collaboration for the fall mainstage production.

"I'm delighted to announce the programming we've planned for WAM Theatre's seventh season," said van Ginhoven. "We have a dynamic lineup of events from February through October that fulfill our vision of creating opportunity for women and girls through our mission of theatre as philanthropy."


2016 started off with WAM co-producing the very successful staged reading of Facing Our Truth - six ten-minute plays commissioned in 2013 by New Black Fest to explore Trayvon Martin, race and privilege - that involved dozens of artists and community members using arts as activism in the Berkshire community. More than 400 people packed the Colonial Theatre for the February 6 event and panel discussion. As a beginning to this year of collaboration, WAM co-produced this event with Multicultural BRIDGE and Yvette "Jamuna" Sirker.

On February 19, WAM participated once again in the 10X10 Upstreet Arts Festival in Pittsfield as one of the five local arts organizations involved in the In Motion Pittsfield Literary Party. With a piece directed by WAM Artistic Associate Molly Clancy and performed by Jennie Jadow and Dana Harrison, WAM shared a short piece combining the words of Henry David Thoreau's letter of Civil Disobedience with those of living writers, including Nicholas Kristof, shared in an exploration of transcendentalism in our world today.


WAM Theatre, with playwright and actress Rachel Siegel, will co-produce a workshop production of Special at the Berkshire Theatre Group's Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge March 18-20. Created and performed by Siegel, and based on personal experience and interviews with mothers of children with special needs, Special follows one woman's journey after she discovers she is pregnant with a child with Down syndrome.

WAM Advisory Board member Jayne Atkinson will direct this funny, unstinting, and ultimately inspiring look into the complexities and possibilities of love. "I am very honored to be part of Special," Atkinson said. "It is a humorous, poignant, at times dark journey - an eye of the needle experience that will move us all deeply." A portion of box office proceeds will be donated to the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, Whole Children, and CATA.


Back by popular demand, the 24-Hour Theatre Project, a staple of past WAM seasons, returns to the Performing Arts Center at the University at Albany on April 2. Combining the spontaneous creativity of improvisational theatre with the rigorous professionalism and production value of scripted theatre, the project brings together more than 50 of the best playwrights, directors, and actors from across the Capital Region and the Berkshires to beat the clock as they race to write and stage five new theater pieces in a 24-hour period. This year's playwrights will be Kat Koppett, Jessica Provenz, Maizy Scarpa, Yvette "Jamuna" Sirker, and Randolyn Zinn. Taking the directing reins will be Michael Burns, Molly Clancy, David Girard, Margaret Hall, and Yvonne Perry.


The third season of WAM's popular Fresh Takes Play Reading Series kicks off on April 17 with a reading of The Last Wife, by Kate Hennig, directed by Molly Clancy. We are returning once again to the gallery space at No. Six Depot Roastery and Café in West Stockbridge at 3pm on Sunday afternoons starting on April 17 and including: May 15, Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler, directed by Kelly Galvin; June 19, The Oregon Trail by Bekah Brunstetter, directed by Estefanía Fadul; August 21, Samsara by Lauren Yee, directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian; and September 11, Grand Concourse by Heidi Shreck, directed by Sheila Siragusa. These are all professional readings of thought-provoking plays that have had successful productions elsewhere but are new to Berkshire audiences, written by women and telling the stories of women and girls. Molly Clancy curates the season, which is sponsored by No. Six Depot and Kristin and James Hatt. There is a talkback with the cast and director after every reading.

This year, in response to our audiences request for deeper discussion around the women's issues raised in each play, WAM Theatre is partnering with OLLI to co-present a companion class called 'Fresh Takes/Your Take'. Starting with the May reading of Photograph 51, a companion class will be offered on the Monday evening following the Sunday readings. This class will be led by WAM Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven and will provide a more in-depth look at the central issues infused in each play. During the companion class, van Ginhoven will share the underpinning of the piece and its author, setting the scene for discussion of your questions, reactions, and experiences as they were evoked by the Sunday reading.


After the success of last summer's benefit at Hilltop Orchards - WAM is doing it again! Save the date of Thursday, July 14 for our 2nd Annual Stars in the Orchard Summer Benefit - 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 this year's beneficiary and to learn more about WAM Theatre's fall co- production of The Bakelite Masterpiece.


We are delighted to announce that this year our fall Main Stage play will be a co-production with the Berkshire Theatre Group on the Larry Vaber Stage in The Unicorn Theatre. WAM Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven will direct the American Premiere of The Bakelite Masterpiece by Kate Cayley, with David Adkins and Corinna May. The show begins previews on September 29, opens on October 1, and closes on October 23.

The end of World War II. Holland is in chaos. The artist van Meegeren is arrested. His crime? Selling a long-lost painting by the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer to Hermann Goering, Nazi leader. His defense? It was a perfect forgery painted by him. His proof? In front of his prosecutor (art historian and resistance fighter) Geert Piller, he must paint another flawless Vermeer to save his life. A play that debates beauty, faith, memory and the reconstruction of a country.

In keeping with WAM's double philanthropic mission, a percentage of the box office proceeds from The Bakelite Masterpiece will be donated to an organization that creates opportunity for women and girls.

"As the daughter of Dutch parents who lived through WWII, I feel compelled to tell this story," said Kristen van Ginhoven. "The play came to me via a close colleague in Canada who acted in the original production. I immediately envisioned it at the Unicorn and approached Kate Maguire, Berkshire Theatre Group Artistic Director/CEO, who loved the play. WAM Theatre is very excited that the Berkshire Theatre Group has opened their doors to make this a co-production. This collaboration makes it possible for this story to reach a wider audience, which, ultimately, makes it possible for WAM to make a larger donation to our beneficiary for the production."

"I was very excited when Kristen van Ginhoven proposed co-producing the captivating The Bakelite Masterpiece," said Kate Maguire. "We look forward to this project with WAM Theatre, and certainly are honored to know that the enormously talented David Adkins and Corinna May will perform these complicated and provocative roles."

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