Taking action in ways we believe will make a difference

Written by Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven as part of her ‘What’s my #vision’ series.

March 18, 2017

March has been an emotional month so far. If I’m honest, the new year has been an emotional one so far. With the current political climate, there’s a new thing every day that spikes our collective blood pressure. Some of us are writing postcards, some are making daily phone calls, some are participating in protests. Some are doing all of that and more. It’s inspiring, and necessary, to see so many taking action in whatever way we believe will make a difference.

WAM’s way of taking action is to put our head down and create as much opportunity as we can for women and girls.

This March, two of our long-standing dreams for doing that are coming true.

“Emilie” cast in rehearsal. Photo by David Dashiell.

1)   We are finally remounting EMILIE, our hit production from 2013. It has been a long and hard effort to get to this remount and for awhile, we didn’t think it would happen. But then, thanks to Greylock Federal Credit Union and some other visionary donors, we raised enough by the end of 2016 to say the show will go on!

The joy we all feel at being back in the room together is palpable. (See some rehearsal photos here.) Telling the story this time also feels much more urgent. Our political climate is very different and, sadly, more aligned with the world Emilie du Chatelet was living in during the 18th century. During our first read through we all recognized the edge now present in this story. It feels brave and risky to be telling her story.

And it is brave and risky for WAM to be telling her story – for WAM to do a full mainstage production in the spring is a huge undertaking. It means we are making a huge leap with our budget AND we are spending a lot more money in the first half of the year than we normally do.  But these are the stories we must tell.

As playwright Lauren Gunderson wrote to us before the first day of rehearsal: “WAM’s commitment to powerful stories combined with their artistic excellence and their civic impact makes me want to write more plays like Emilie… about complex women changing the world. WAM truly manifests my belief that theatre actively and intentionally changes hearts, minds, and the future of a thoughtful and empathetic nation.”

“Emilie” cast, stage managers, and directors holding signs about why the arts matter. Photo by David Dashiell. See more rehearsal photos here.

As of this writing, 214 brave people have already bought tickets. Thank you! That means there is still lots of opportunity to buy tickets, invite friends and spread the word. Doing this will certainly help lower my blood pressure plus ensure that more people hear the important message of this play. WAM is working to have at least 800 brave souls buy tickets to the show – that would cover our remaining costs of the show, plus ensure we can move into our next few months of creating opportunity for women and girls. So ¼ down and ¾’s to go!

The WAM cohort arrives at the ISTA Festival in Atlanta!

2)   What helps lower the blood pressure is knowing that WAM Education – our four Girls Ensemble participants, two teaching artists and a WAM team member – is safely home from our first ISTA trip to Atlanta. ISTA theatre festivals – for international students from all over the world – are incredible, full of collaboration, play, and rigor. I got involved with ISTA in 2003 when I was teaching at an International School. I brought my drama students to an ISTA festival and I was hooked. When we launched WAM Education in 2015, we dreamed of sending participants to an ISTA festival within five years. Two years later, we are doing it! I am overjoyed to be combining two things I love so much – WAM and ISTA.

ISTA in action in Atlanta.

It was another long, hard road to raise the funds and organize sending WAM on that trip. For awhile, we didn’t even know if we would have enough Girls Ensemble participants to run the program we had worked so hard building! But we have four incredible participants and we were able to give them the exciting opportunity to travel to Atlanta and have their horizons broadened. We are so grateful to the donors and the team members who have worked so hard to make it happen.

WAM has never had as busy a beginning to a new year as this one. January, February and March have flown by as we worked towards these dreams. The WAM Team has been working incredibly hard to get all our regular new year activities done while also ensuring WAM Education’s Girls Ensemble and the remount of EMILIE go off without a hitch. It has been very, very hard, but taking action for the things we believe will make a difference is a lot of hard work. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Meeting MLK III and his daughter at the Atlanta ISTA Festival.

Here’s to us all continuing to take action in the ways we believe will make a difference.

PS: Brighten up your Mud Season and buy tickets to “Emilie….”. Invite a bunch of friends to join you! You’ll have a wonderful time and you’ll help my blood pressure stay nice and low!

Buy tickets to Emilie