At the Halfway Point, WAM’s 10th Anniversary Season is Making an Impact

At the Halfway Point, WAM’s 10th Anniversary Season is Making an Impact

We invite you to watch this special four minute video made especially by Iin Purwanti Cox and George Cox of OUTPOST for WAM’s 10th anniversary Gala. We’re so proud to share it with you here.

Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven, Associate Artistic Director Talya Kingston, Associate Producing Director Lia Russell-Self and the WAM Team and Board of Directors are thrilled with the success of the expanded programming and new collaborations they’ve launched for their 10th anniversary season.

“As we celebrate our first decade of the WAM dream of using theatre to benefit women and girls coming true, we have expanded our programming to two Mainstage productions,” van Ginhoven said. “And we have selected two Fresh Takes readings that correlate directly to our Mainstage programming.”

ANN Co-Productions Announced in DC, Dallas, and Southern California

Jayne Atkinson in ANN. Photo David Dashiell.

Before we move on to season 10, we were thrilled to announce that our fall 2018 Mainstage production of ANN by Holland Taylor, starring Jayne Atkinson, directed by van Ginhoven and employing the talents of several of our WAM Associate Artists, is moving on to additional stagings in a co-production between Arena Stage* in Washington, DC, July 11-August 11, 2019, and the Dallas Theater Center in Dallas, TX. October 10-November 10, 2019. In 2020 the show will run May13-June 7 in May at the Laguna Playhouse, just south of Los Angeles, CA.  

* The Arena Stage production of ANN had closed as of the date of this post. Check out the great review we got in the Washington Post!

Mainstage Productions, Fresh Takes & 2019 Beneficiaries

The season opened with the world premiere of LADY RANDY written by and starring Berkshire resident Anne Undeland, featuring Mark Zeisler, and directed by Jim Frangione. In keeping with its double philanthropic mission, a portion of the box office proceeds from LADY RANDY were donated to Tapestry Health Systems ($8,000) and The MoonCatcher Project ($1,200).

"Lady Randy" check presentation. Photo by David Dashiell.
LADY RANDY check presentation. Photo David Dashiell.

“All of us at WAM are thrilled with the success with LADY RANDY. To launch our 10th anniversary season with the world premiere of a new play by a local female playwright was very fitting and exciting. We are glad our WAMily responded so enthusiastically to the show”, van Ginhoven shared.

As was recently announced, the beneficiaries from the upcoming fall production of PIPELINE will be Harmony Homestead & Wholeness Center and the Women of Color Giving Circle. To date the company has donated more than $65,700 to 17 local and global organizations taking action for women and girls in areas such as girls education, teen pregnancy prevention, sexual trafficking awareness, midwife training and more. 

Representatives of the PIPELINE beneficiaries join with WAM Team and Board Members at the 10th Anniversary Gala.

In May the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series of NATIVE GARDENS by Karen Zacarías was presented in memory of artist Wendy Rabinowitz, in honor of her tireless dedication to social justice and her commitment to WAM. The cast included WAM Co-founder Leigh Strimbeck and Shakespeare & Company Artistic Director Allyn Burrows.

Allyn Burrows, Leigh Strimbeck, Julissa Lee Rodriguez and Stephen Pugh in our Fresh Takes reading of NATIVE GARDENS. Photo David Dashiell.

Tickets are currently on sale for the fall Mainstage production of PIPELINE by Tony Award-nominated and Obie Award-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau and directed by Dawn Meredith Simmons. The production will run October 24-November 9, 2019, at Shakespeare & Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox, MA. Tickets.

PIPELINE is the second partnership between WAM and Multicultural BRIDGE, the first being FACING OUR TRUTH in 2016. 

BRIDGE Executive Director Gwendolyn Hampton Van Sant.

“BRIDGE is thrilled to collaborate with WAM Theatre again, this time on Dominique Morisseau’s brilliant play which is advancing a much-needed national conversation on the crisis of the Black family in the U.S.” said Multicultural BRIDGE Chief Executive Officer and Founding Director, Gwendolyn Hampton Van Sant. “Through the story of one young Black student’s success and challenges, we share the experience of a Black family facing long-standing cultural and systemic barriers. The school to prison ‘pipeline’ affects not only the poor; the constant pressure and trauma of racism can touch any family at any moment.”

Additionally, PIPELINE is a co-production with The Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theatre in Cambridge, MA, where the play will be performed from March 5-29, 2020.  

A Fresh Takes Play Reading of PARADISE by Laura Maria Censabella will be offered in tandem with PIPELINE, on Saturday, November 2 at 3 pm in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. 

New Elder Ensemble Teams Up with Teens

WAM Education kicked off 2019 with successful in-school ensemble programs at Reid Middle SchoolRichmond Consolidated School, the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School (PVPA), and Pittsfield High School (PHS). A total of 46 students participated in these ensembles, which focused on the themes in Aesop’s fable THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF. On February 1 the ensembles gathered at Reid to share their devised theatre pieces. The performances asked profound questions about the nature of truth, who we believe, and when a lie is forgivable or even necessary.  

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”6″ display=”basic_slideshow”] Summer saw the launch a new Elder Ensemble program for women 65 and older, which worked in tandem with the successful, established Teen Ensemble under the leadership of WAM Teaching Artists Amy Brentano, Sara Katzoff, Talya Kingston, and Lia Russell-Self. They debuted their original devised theatre piece FRACTURED DREAMS at the WAM 10th Anniversary Gala, before taking it on tour to Dewey Memorial Hall in Sheffield and The Stables at The Mount in Lenox.

“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,” said Elder Ensemble member Nancy Tunnicliffe.

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”7″ display=”basic_slideshow”]BerkChique!

In May WAM presented BerkChique! – the Berkshires’ premier annual pop-up clothing sale and fundraiser – for the second year

“WAM Theatre was delighted to be the host of BerkChique! again this year,” van Ginhoven enthused. “It was so much fun last year and so many of our ‘WAMily’ members became avid BerkChique! shoppers. We are excited that WAM’s mission of creating opportunity for women and girls is such a nice fit for BerkChique!.”

This year’s sale was held at the West Stockbridge Historical Society and supported WAM, with additional donations going to the Berkshire Humane SocietyCommunity Access to the Arts, and IS183 Art School of the Berkshires.

Board Members and Staff Welcomed on Board

Over the first half of the year WAM added two new members to the Leadership Team as long-time Team member Gwendolyn Tunnicliffe moved on in her career. 

WAM Theatre Leadership Team at the opening night of LADY RANDY. L to R:: Lia Russell-Self, Talya Kingston, Gwendolyn Tunnicliffe, Dori Parkman, Kristen Perlman, and Kristen van Ginhoven.

“All of us at WAM miss Gwen dearly. Her contributions to WAM in her four years with us have been immense and she is adored by our WAMily,” van Ginhoven explained. “We wish her well on her new life chapter and are excited to have hired long-time WAM artist Lia Russell-Self as our new Associate Producing Director and newcomer Kristen Perlman, as our new Philanthropy Manager.”

In addition Carolyn Butler, Margaret Fluhr, Ellen Ring, and Diane Scott were appointed as new members of the WAM Board of Directors, joining newly elected Board President Wendy Healey, Vice President Arwen Lowbridge, Secretary Lynn Festa, and van Ginhoven, to lead the company into its second decade.

The WAM Board of Directors at the 10th Anniversary Gala. L to R: Ellen Ring, Carolyn Butler, Margaret Fluhr, Wendy Healey, Kristen van Ginhoven, Diane Scott, Arwen Lowbridge, and Lynn Festa.

“We are tremendously proud to welcome our four new board members,” Healey said. “They each bring different expertise to the table, but share a passion for the art WAM creates, and the organizations  we support with a portion of our box office proceeds. As we start our tenth anniversary season, we are extremely grateful to everyone who has supported our growth, and to old and new friends who will join the WAMily and help us continue our work.” 

Sold-Out Gala and Looking Ahead

A sold-out celebratory Gala, hosted by Ty Allan Jackson, at the Stationery Factory in Dalton marked the midway point of the 10th Anniversary Season.

“As WAM continues to learn about working at the intersection of arts and activism, more and more, we are understanding the importance and necessity of inclusion- of race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, geography and more.” van Ginhoven said. “Through our plays, our readings, our community partnerships, and our ensembles, we’re consciously featuring stories that look at the world through an intersectional feminist lens. We look forward to continuing to celebrate our first ten years of impact all year long.”