Digital Production to Launch October 17
Two Women. Multiple Truths. One Landmark Supreme Court Case.
LENOX, MA (September 3, 2020) — Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven, Associate Artistic Director Talya Kingston, and the WAM Theatre team today announced the cast for the area premiere ROE by Lisa Loomer. WAM’s creatively designed digital production directed by WAM’s Producing Artistic Director, Kristen van Ginhoven, will be available October 17-20.
The cast is led by acclaimed actress and Berkshire resident Tara Franklin [Chester Theatre Company’s On The Exhale] as Norma McCorvey, the woman who became “Jane Roe” in the landmark 1973 supreme court case, and Tracy Liz Miller [Saratoga Shakespeare Company’s The Tempest], who has previously worked with WAM as a Fresh Takes reading director, as lawyer Sarah Weddington. Acclaimed actress Susanna Guzmán [TV’s The Outsider and New Amsterdam] appears as Connie Gonzales, Norma’s longtime partner, and assistant director Catherine Dickerson [UAlbany’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream]will be Roxy. Berkshire favorites MaConnia Chesser [Shakespeare & Company’s The Merry Wives of Windsor] and Ryan Winkles [Shakespeare & Company’s Creditors] lead the ensemble, including Vivian Burnham [Saratoga Children’s Theatre], KD McTeigue [Troy Foundry Theatre’s Catastrophe Carnivale], Daniel Rios, Jr. [Shakespeare & Company’s The Comedy of Errors], and Wendy Welch [Watertower Theatre’s Pride and Prejudice], each of whom appears as multiple characters.
For more information on the ROE cast visit: https://www.wamtheatre.com/showsandevents/roe/roe-cast/
“Ninety-nine percent of the director’s job is to bring an excellent cast together. WAM has truly outdone itself with this cast. Each person is not only an incredible artist, but also an incredible human who is excited about the opportunity to use their art as activism with this production of ROE,” said van Ginhoven. “It must also be said that taking on this digital production requires a playfulness, flexibility, and openness that this whole cast has been eagerly displaying. All of us at WAM count ourselves incredibly lucky to be working with this extraordinarily talented, experienced, and dedicated cast. We cannot wait to share their work with you in October. “
Supported with powerful theatrical design elements, this large ensemble cast will illuminate the history of one of the most polarizing social issues of the modern era – the Roe v. Wade, U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established a woman’s right to an abortion. WAM’s innovative, online performance will bring the dynamic history–and how it relates to our current world — into the comfort of your own home.
Thanks to a grant from Mass Humanities, WAM is also working in collaboration with Scholar-In-Residence Dr. Laura Briggs, Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at UMass Amherst, and dialogue experts Essential Partners to open up and deepen the conversation around reproductive justice during this election year.
“In our early conversations with Dr. Briggs and Essential Partners, we were made aware of an article written by a group of people who came together for dialogue across difference following the bombing of an abortion clinic in 1994,” van Ginhoven explained. “This quote lept out to us: ‘In this world of polarizing conflicts, we have glimpsed a new possibility: a way in which people can disagree frankly and passionately, become clearer in heart and mind about their activism, and, at the same time, contribute to a more civil and compassionate society.’ These ideas have been guiding our work as we plan the community outreach events around ROE, which will include conversations with Dr. Briggs, a special dialogue with Essential Partners, as well as additional talkbacks and engagement opportunities.”
In keeping with WAM’s double philanthropic mission, a portion of the proceeds will be given to an organization taking action for women and girls. The beneficiary for ROE will be announced in the coming weeks.
by Lisa Loomer (She/Her)
Online October 17-20, 2020
Vivian Burnham (She/Her) – Emily, Melissa
MaConnia Chesser (She/Her) – Aileen, Barbara, Waitress, Uma, Davina, Pregnant Woman #3, Christian Woman #1, Peggy, Television News Reporter
Catherine Dickerson (She/Her) – Roxy
Tara Franklin (She/Her) – Norma McCorvey
Susanna Guzmán (She/Her) – Connie, Ofelia
KD McTeigue (She/Her) – Linda Coffee, Judy, Rhonda, Holly Hunter, Eleanor Smeal, Mariah, Mary Gilmour, Pregnant Woman #1, Pregnant Woman #2, Pro-Life Woman
Tracy Liz Miller (She/Her) – Sarah Weddington
Daniel Rios, Jr. (He/Him) – Henry McCluskey, Jay Floyd, TV Newsman, Beau, Fred Gilmour, Abortion Doctor, Television News Reporter, Christian Man, Male TV Reporter, Pro-Life Man
Wendy Welch (She/Her) – Molly, Mary, Gloria Allred, Christian Woman #1, Christian Woman #2, Pro-Choice Woman #1, Pro-Choice Woman #2
Ryan Winkles (He/Him) – Doctor, Ron Weddington, Flowers, Fred Friendly, Michael Manheim, Justice Blackman, Flip Benham
Amy Altadonna (She/Her) – Sound Designer
Deborah Brothers (She/Her) – Costume Designer
Catherine Dickerson (She/Her) – Assistant Director
Tatiana Godfrey (She/Her) – Assistant Dramaturg
Elisabeth Castellon Goncalves (She/Her) – Assistant Sound Designer
Juliana von Haubrich (She/Her) – Scenic Designer
Aja Jackson (She/Her) – Lighting Designer
Hope Rose Kelly -(She/Her) Stage Manager
Talya Kingston (She/Her) – Dramaturg
Ashley Lewis (She/Her)- Assistant Stage Manager
Calypso Michelet (She/Her)- Assistant Costume Designer
Frida Swallow (She/Her) – Assistant Lighting Designer
Kristen van Ginhoven (She/Her) – Director
“Rousing entertainment … a big play with big ideas.” –Mail Tribune
“Cleverly illuminating” –The Washington Post
“Full of nuance and complexity” –NPR
Tickets will go on sale September 8th. For more information about WAM Theatre’s 2020 programs, events, and artists, please visit www.WAMTheatre.com.
“Shares 50 years of history in gripping style” –Mail Tribune
“A powerful and compassionate look at a controversial issue” –The Siskiyou Daily News
ROE is an historically sweeping play with a large ensemble cast that illuminates the history of one of the most polarizing social issues of the modern era, the Roe v. Wade, U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established a woman’s right to an abortion. ROE explores the women behind the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, illuminating the heart and passion each side has for their cause, providing a reminder of where the debate began and how hard we have to work to communicate compassionately with people with whom we may disagree.
Playwright Lisa Loomer says, “I wanted people to feel, as they watched the play, that their point of view was represented, if nothing else because that helps people be more open and willing to hear another point of view.”
ROE was commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2012 as part of its American Revolutions Cycle. It was developed at the University of Texas and The Kennedy Center (as part of DC’s Women’s Voices Festival) as well as at OSF’s Black Swan Lab before it played for 70 performances in Ashland, OR, and then had runs in Washington, DC (Arena Stage), Berkeley, CA (Berkeley Rep), and Sarasota, FL (Asolo Rep).
Tickets for ROE go on sale September 8th on wamtheatre.com
ABOUT THE CAST
VIVIAN BURNHAM (Emily, Melissa). WAM Theatre: Debut. Elsewhere: Vivian is a 4th grader at Pawling Elementary School. She has been in several theatre productions that her parents have directed that conveniently needed a kid as well as kids’ program productions at her school, Saratoga Children’s Theatre, Saratoga Arts Center, and Childsplay Theatre in Tempe, Arizona. She loves dancing, singing, acting, swimming, riding her bike, art projects, and playing with her friends. She lives in Pawling with her mom and dad, Tracy Liz Miller and Kent Burnham. She also adores her cats Blueberry, Jam, and The Big Lebowski (The Dude).
MaCONNIA CHESSER (Aileen, Barbara, Waitress, Uma, Davina, Pregnant Woman #3, Christian Woman #1, Peggy, Television News Reporter) WAM Theatre: Staged readings of The Virgin Trial, The Flora & Fauna, The Revolutionists, Grand Concourse. Elsewhere: Shakespeare & Company, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Chester Theatre, Kennedy Center, NJ Rep, Theater Alliance, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Tennessee Shakespeare, York Shakespeare, African Continuum Theatre,Totem Pole Playhouse, & Folger Theatre. Film/TV: THE SHAPE OF DESTINY (Official selection, 2018 Women in Comedy Festival), GHOSTS OF HAMILTON STREET, DISEASELS. HBO’s THE WIRE. Training: Shakespeare & Company, National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, Alcorn State University. Awards: Helen Hayes nomination for INSURRECTION: HOLDING HISTORY with Theater Alliance. Et cetera: Company member at Shakespeare & Company and New Jersey Repertory Theatre.
CATHERINE DICKERSON (Assistant Director/Roxy) WAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Intimate Apparel, A Streetcar Named Desire, Hair, Almost Maine, Rebel/Sister (UAlbany Premiere), Break: A New Musical (Troy Civic Arts Center Premiere). Film/TV: Succession (Extra). Training: University at Albany (BA), Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre (3-week Intensive). Online: Instagram – @cattmarie4114.
TARA FRANKLIN (Norma McCorvey) WAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: On The Exhale, Bar Mitzvah Boy, Sister Play (Chester Theatre Company), Naked, At Home At The Zoo, The Homecoming, The Lion in Winter, The Puppetmaster of Lodz, Birthday Boy, The Guardsman, Ghosts, A Man For All Seasons, Educating Rita, Amadeus, Equus, The Misanthrope, Peter Pan and Dimetos (Berkshire Theatre Group), Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V and Love’s Labour’s Lost (Nebraska Shakespeare Festival), Translations, The Trojan Women, Misalliance and Red Noses (Connecticut Repertory Theatre), A Manuscript Found in Saragossa (Lookingglass Theatre Company), Gravid Water (Improv Olympic), Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel / Punchdrunk LLC). Film: Labor Day Training: MFA (University of Connecticut), BFA (NYU Tisch School of the Arts) Awards: Best Solo Performance, Berkshire Theatre Critics Awards, 2019. Et Cetera: Tara is currently the Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education for the Chester Theatre Company. She performed in an online version of King Lear for CTC this past August. Tara is also on the faculty for the Theatre and Dance Department at Smith College.
SUSANNA GUZMÁN (Connie/Ofelia) WAM Theatre: debut. Has recently appeared in People’s Light Theatre’s production of Project Dawn. Film/TV: The Outsider, New Amsterdam, POSE, The Deuce, Last Week with John Oliver, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt*, Leftovers, Power, Orange is the New Black, multiple Law & Orders, The First Purge, High Resolution, If you could say it in words, to name a few. Training: Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, La Jolla Playhouse Conservatory. Awards: *Emmy Nominee for Cast of Outstanding Comedy Series, HOLA Outstanding Performance Award, Best Actress in Dallas 1998. Susannaguzman.com
KD McTEIGUE (Linda Coffee, Judy, Rhonda, Holly Hunter, Eleanor Smeal, Mariah, Mary Gilmour, Pregnant Woman #1, Pregnant Woman #2, Pro-Life Woman) WAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: Catastrophe Carnivale, (Troy Foundry Theatre), Theatre in the Classroom Tour (Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble), Summer Stage 2019 (Capital Repertory Theatre), Romeo & Juliet, A Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland (Theatre Institute at Sage) Film: Dear Helen (dir. Henry Caughey) Television: Diabolical (Investigation Discovery) Training: Russell Sage College (BA), Tectonic Theater Project, Poseidon Theatre Company / Wildrence, Troy Foundry Theatre, Wayne Pyle Acting Class, and the Will Bryan Studio. Awards: Recipient of the Bruce Rainer award for Most Promise in Theatre. Et cetera: KD is thrilled and thankful to be a part of WAM’s innovative digital production of ROE. You can find her on social media @kdmcteigue.
TRACY LIZ MILLER (Sarah Weddington): WAM Theatre: Director, How the World Began by Catherine Treishman, Fresh Takes reading series. Elsewhere: Selected Acting Credits: Molly Castle in Polar Bears, Black Boys, and Prairie Fringed Orchids (Capital Rep and Barrington Stage co-pro virtual), Alonsa in The Tempest (Saratoga Shakespeare Company), Titania/Hippolita in Midsummer (Southwest Shakespeare Company), Dora Hand in The Swan, various roles in Almost, Maine (Chester Theatre Company), Molly in Dusk Rings a Bell (Shaker Bridge Theatre), Mrs. Daldry in In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play (Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre Company). Selected Directing Credits: The Moors (Bridge Street Theatre), Gidion’s Knot (Stray Cat Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts), Much Ado About Nothing (Southwest Shakespeare Company), The Twelve Dates of Christmas (Class 6 Theatre). Founder and former Co-Producing Artistic Director of The Bridge Initiative in Tempe, Arizona. Current Co-Producing Artistic Director of Pawling Theatre Exchange. Current Director of Education at Saratoga Shakespeare Company. Current Faculty at University of Albany Theatre Department. Etc. Partner to Kent Burnham, Mom to Vivian Burnham.
DANIEL RIOS JR. (Henry McCluskey, Jay Floyd, TV Newsman, Beau, Fred Gilmour, Abortion Doctor, Television News Reporter, Christian Man, Male TV Reporter, Pro-Life Man) WAM Theatre: Campus Unrest, (Fresh Takes Play reading) Elsewhere: Fences (The Umbrella Stage Company), Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare & Company), White, Black, and Blue (Silverthorne Theatre Company),The Merchant of Venice (Valley Shakespeare Festival). Film: Katie Fforde: Ein Haus am Meer (A House at the Sea) Training: Fitchburg State University (BA), University of Southern California (MFA).
WENDY WELCH (Molly, Mary, Gloria Allred, Christian Woman #1, Christian Woman #2, Pro-Choice Woman #1, Pro-Choice Woman #2) WAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: Kate Hamill’s Pride and Prejudice (Mrs. Bennet), A Little Night Music (Madame Armfeldt), Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike (Sonia), Caroline, or Change (Rose Stopnik Gellman), The Light in the Piazza (Margaret Johnson), The Unmentionables (Nancy), Death of a Salesman (Linda Loman), The History Boys (Dorothy Lintott), Follies (Sally Durant Plummer), The Matchmaker (Dolly Levi), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Storyteller), The Dining Room (Actress #2), Talking Pictures (Mrs. Jackson), Sexy Laundry (Alice). Film/TV: award winning documentary Shatter the Silence, Occupy Texas, Murder Made Me Famous, Upstream Color, Sweet Tornado, Deadline Crime. Numerous Commercials and Voiceovers. Training: B.F.A. Acting S.M.U., where she was mentored by Margaret Loft. Apprentice Chelsea Theater Center. Awards: DFW Critics Forum (3) Best Actress, Leon Rabin Award Best Supporting Actress. Et Cetera: Adjunct Professor S.M.U., Richland College, Northlake College, Private voice/coaching studio. Online: wendywelch.net
RYAN WINKLES (Doctor, Ron Weddington, Robert Flowers, Fred Friendly, Michael Manheim, Justice Blackman, Flip Benham) WAM Theatre: The Old Mezzo, Fresh Takes readings including Photograph 51, The Tall Girls, Blue Stockings, The Virgin Trial Elsewhere: credits include: Creditors, Two Gents, King Lear, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Othello (Shakespeare & Company), Pericles (the rig), Universe Rushing Apart (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), Mrs. Packard (Bridge Repertory Theatre), All My Sons (Elements Theatre), Visitors (Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse), Misalliance (Milwaukee Chamber Theatre), Muskie Love (Madison Repertory Theatre) Film/TV: Time Traveling Bong (Comedy Central), UFOTOG (Trumbull Studios), Paper Birds (French Press Films) Training: BA from Florida State University, MFA from University of Wisconsin-Madison
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Kristen van Ginhoven (director) WAM Theatre: Ann, The Bakelite Masterpiece, In Darfur (New England Premiere), Emilie (New England Premiere), The Old Mezzo (World Premiere), The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls and Melancholy Play Elsewhere: Ann (Arena Stage, Dallas Theatre Center), Disgraced, I and You (Chester Theatre), Waxworks (Williams College), The Whale (Adirondack Theatre Festival), 10 Minute Play Festival (Barrington Stage Company), Petticoats of Steel (Capital Repertory Theatre), Footloose (Cohoes Music Hall), Children’s Hour (Siena College), Vendetta Chrome (Emerson College). Selected assistant directing: The Physicists, 42nd Street (Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada), Two Men of Florence (Huntington Theatre) Sleuth, Absurd Person Singular (Barrington Stage Company). Training: Dalhousie University (BA), Queen’s University (BEd), Emerson College (MA). Et cetera: Kristen is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and a theatre artist for the International Schools Theatre Association. She is a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction at the Stratford Festival of Canada. Kristen is the co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of WAM Theatre.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
Lisa Loomer (playwright) WAM Theatre: debut Plays: ROE, LIVING OUT, THE WAITING ROOM, DISTRACTED, CAFÉ VIDA, HOMEFREE, EXPECTING ISABEL, TWO THINGS YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT AT DINNER, BIRDS, MARIA, MARIA, MARIA!, and BOCÓN!, have been produced at such theatres as The Mark Taper Forum, Arena Stage, South Coast Repertory, The Kennedy Center, Seattle Rep, Denver Theater Center, Berkeley Repertory, OSF, Trinity Repertory, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, and, in New York, at The Roundabout, The Vineyard, Second Stage, Intar, and The Public. Her work has also been produced in Mexico, the Middle East, and Europe. Awards: Lisa is a two-time winner of the American Theatre Critics Award, and has also received awards from the Kennedy Center, the Pen Center, the Imagen Foundation, (Norman Lear Award), the Jane Chambers Award, and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, among others. Film: credits include GIRL, INTERRUPTED. She also writes for television.
WAM 2020 Sponsors
WAM’s 2020 sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Berkshire Hand to Shoulder Center, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Blue Q, Blue Spark Financial, Brabson Library & Educational Foundation, Canyon Ranch, Chez Nous, Custom Business Solutions, The Dylandale Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Haven Cafe and Bakery, Health Professional Coaching, Heller & Robbins, Interprint, J.H. Maxymillian, Inc., Lake House Inn. Lee Bank, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Onyx Specialty Papers, Outpost Productions, RB Design Co., The Rookwood Inn, T Square Design Studio, Toole Insurance, and a. von schlegell & co.
WAM Theatre is also supported in part by grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, as well as grants from the Alford-Egremont Cultural Council, Lenox Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cultural Council, and the Sandisfield Cultural Council – local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
ROE is sponsored in part by Maggie and Don Buchwald, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Brabson & Library Educational Foundation and Mass Humanities.
WAM’s 2020 Season of Events is sponsored in part by Carolyn Butler.
ABOUT WAM THEATRE
WAM Theatre is a professional theatre company based in Berkshire County, MA, that operates at the intersection of arts and activism. WAM creates theatre for gender equity and has a vision of theatre as philanthropy.
In fulfillment of its philanthropic mission, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from their Mainstage productions to carefully selected beneficiaries. Since WAM’s founding in 2010, they have donated more than $75,000 to 19 local and global organizations taking action for gender equity in areas such as girls education, teen pregnancy prevention, sexual trafficking awareness, midwife training, and more.
In addition to Mainstage productions and special events, WAM’s activities include innovative community engagement programs and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. To date, WAM has provided paid work to more than 400 theatre artists, the majority of whom are female-identifying.
As a civic organization that embraces intersectional feminism (feminism that acknowledges how multiple forms of discrimination overlap), WAM understands that to address one piece of systemic discrimination means we have to address them all. This is on-going personal and professional work at WAM for the staff and board.
WAM Theatre has been widely recognized for having a positive impact on cultural and community development in the region. WAM is the recipient of the Creative Economy Standout Berkshire Trendsetter Award and previously, was named Outstanding Philanthropy Corporation of the Year by the Western MA Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Kristen van Ginhoven, WAM’s Producing Artistic Director, was honored by the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association (BTCA) with the prestigious Larry Murray Award, presented at the discretion of the BTCA Board to a person or theatre project that advances social, political, or community issues in Berkshire County.
For more information, visit www.WAMTheatre.com