WAM Theatre Wraps Up Second Successful 'Fresh Takes' Season

As rehearsals begin for WAM Theatre's fall MainStage production of HOLY LAUGHTER the company is basking in the glow of a successful season of 'Fresh Takes' Play Readings. Curated by WAM's Artistic Associate Molly Clancy, all five of this year's plays were penned by living female playwrights, directed by women and featured many local professional theatre artists.

Clancy selected plays that had had successful productions elsewhere, but were new to the Berkshire audience.

"The plays in our lineup this year were vibrant in humor and palpable in desolation,"Clancy shared. "Above all I think they urged audiences to seek community and find connection. The plays were provocative and riveting. It was a delight to watch such talented actors spark conversations on education, socioeconomic issues, gender equality, and mental health. As a theatre artist, your biggest reward is stirring conversations that continue beyond the theatre -- I can certainly say we have done that with our Fresh Takes Reading Series this year."

All five of this year's plays were penned by living, female playwrights and included the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes, directed by Clancy, in August. Fresh Takes also features local actors and directors, artists audiences have grown to love on area stages over the years. Popular actress Tod Randolph directed the first reading in the series - Silence by Moira Buffini - in April. WAM Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven directed the final reading, of The Effect by Lucy Prebble, in September; and 2014 Fresh Takes curator Kelly Galvin directed the May reading of Tall Girls by Meg Miroshnik.

In June WAM partnered for the first time with the Lift Ev'ry Voice Festival celebrating African-American heritage and culture in the Berkshires with a Fresh Takes reading of Noms de Guerre by Jacqueline E. Lawton, who was named one of the top 30 national leading black playwrights by Arena Stage's American Voices New Play Institute.

"Fresh Takes was a rich montage of groundbreaking works with women at the helm," Clancy explained. "During the series this year we involved more than 40 professional theatre artists. Through Fresh Takes we created a space to begin a dialogue with our audience. We have been listening closely to the topics and themes they are most interested in exploring, and what pieces excite them. We will continue to use this information to inform our selection of Main Stage shows."

In fact, both playwright Catherine Trieschmann and director Megan Sandberg-Zakian, who are teaming up for WAM's upcoming fall MainStage production of Trieschmann's HOLY LAUGHTER, were introduced to the Berkshires and WAM during the inaugural Fresh Takes Series in 2014.

Tickets for HOLY LAUGHTER are now on sale and rehearsals begin this week with performances scheduled for October 29-November 22 at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center St. Germain Stage in Pittsfield. The cast features Amie Lytle (Around the World in 80 Days, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater) as Abigail, with Dana Harrison (Shakespeare & Company's Private Lives), Ron Komora (The Poet in An Iliad at Capital Rep), Kimberlee Monroe (Maid's Door at the Billy Holiday Theatre, NYC), and Benjamin Zoëy playing a variety of roles. This poignant comedy follows Abigail, an Episcopal priest who finds that the reality of leading a church is radically and hilariously different than what she learned in seminary. Hymns, liturgical dance and a wicked tongue lift this antic portrait of a small, struggling congregation to comic heights.

In keeping with WAM's double philanthropic mission 25 percent of the box office proceeds from HOLY LAUGHTER will be donated to eighth beneficiary, the Hands in Outreach www.handsinoutreach.org and Sisters for Peace www.sistersforpeace.org girls education project in Nepal. See www.wamtheatre.com/holy-laughter/ for more information.

Tickets are $15-$40 and are being sold through the Barrington Stage Company (BSC) box office. They can be purchased in three easy ways: by calling the BSC box office at 413-236-8888, going in person during box office hours to 30 Union Street in Pittsfield, or buying online through the BSC ticketing page - tickets.barringtonstageco.org.

Based in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, WAM Theatre was co-founded in 2010 by Canadian director, actor, educator, and producer Kristen van Ginhoven to create professional theatrical events for everyone, with a focus on women theatre artists and/or stories of women and girls.

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

Over the past five years, WAM Theatre has donated more than $15,000 to seven nonprofit organizations and provided paid work to more than 100 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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