WAM Theatre Announces Digital Production of ROE by Lisa Loomer

WAM Theatre Announces Digital Production of ROE by Lisa Loomer

Directed by Kristen van Ginhoven

Two Women. Multiple Truths. One Landmark Supreme Court Case.

October 17-20, 2020

LENOX, MA (August 25, 2020) —  WAM Theatre’s reimagined 2020 season will center on a creatively designed digital production of the area premiere of Lisa Loomer’s celebrated play ROE, available October 17-20.  The digital production will be directed by WAM’s Producing Artistic Director, Kristen van Ginhoven. 

Supported with powerful theatrical design elements, the 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. 

“As WAM grappled with the question of what to do in the fall, to ROE or not to ROE, we were inspired by our conversations with the ROE creative team to find a different way forward in telling this important story,” said van Ginhoven. “Art and telling this story is essential, especially in the world we are living in right now. Creating this opportunity for our artists to do what they do best and our audience to experience this story, while putting artist and patron safety and smart financial decisions at the forefront, felt like a necessity.”  

Over the past few months, the extraordinary creative team of ROE has been meeting regularly to dream about how they might tell this story in the time of COVID and the national reckoning with race. What has come of this dreaming is an illuminating digital production that creates the opportunity to blend technology and performance and collaborate with new artists in the video and website design worlds. The creative team for the ROE digital production includes set designer Juliana von Haubrich, costume designer Deborah A. Brothers, lighting designer Aja M. Jackson, sound designer Amy Altadonna, and dramaturg Talya Kingston. Hope Rose Kelly will be the stage manager. Local production company, OutPost Productions, will be the video editors and Abby Tovell from T Square Design Studio will be designing the ROE digital production website. 

Assisting the creative team are assistant director Catherine Dickerson, assistant costume designer Calypso Michelet, assistant lighting designer Frida Swallow, assistant sound designer Elisabeth Castellon Goncalves, assistant dramaturg Tatiana Godfrey, and assistant stage manager Ashley Lewis. For complete information on the ROE creative team visit: https://www.wamtheatre.com/showsandevents/roe/roe-creative-team/

“At first, designing ROE during a pandemic felt like building a sandcastle in a storm,” said Scenic Designer Juliana von Haubrich. “The shape of what we could do kept changing as the virus raged around us. Finally, after my original ideas washed away, and I was left with a new kind of empty stage: a virtual one, where we could ‘build’ anything our minds could imagine. Now anyone in the world can experience ROE. Now, it’s not a show to watch in a theater, it’s a world to experience!”

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. 

“Playwright Lisa Loomer stated that during her writing process she “started to see how a play called ROE might begin to look at the larger cultural divide in this country for which this issue is a lightning rod’.  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. 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.’  Those quotes are guiding our work,” shared van Ginhoven. 

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 soon.

Tickets will go on sale September 8th. For more information about WAM Theatre’s 2020 programs, events, and artists, please visit www.WAMTheatre.com.



by Lisa Loomer

Online October 17-20, 2020

Creative Team:

Director: Kristen van Ginhoven

Assistant Director: Catherine Dickerson

Dramaturg: Talya Kingston

Assistant Dramaturg: Tatiana Godfrey

Scenic Designer: Juliana von Haubrich

Lighting Designer: Aja Jackson

Assistant Lighting Designer: Frida Swallow

Sound Designer: Amy Altadonna

Assistant Sound Designer: Elisabeth Castellon Goncalves

Costume Designer: Deborah Brothers

Assistant Costume Designer: Calypso Michelet

Stage Manager: Hope Rose Kelly

Assistant Stage Manager: Ashley Lewis

“Rousing entertainment … a big play with big ideas.” –Mail Tribune

“Cleverly illuminating” –The Washington Post

“Full of nuance and complexity” –NPR

“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

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.

Juliana von Haubrich (scenic design) Juliana has designed shows for The Arena Stage & Dallas Theatre Center (Ann, 2019); Dorset Theatre Festival/WAM Theatre (Ann, 2018); Shakespeare & Co. (Heisenberg, The Waverly Gallery); WAM Theatre (Melancholy Play, Old Mezzo, Emilie, Holy Laughter, In Darfur, Last Wife, Ann, Lady Randy); Chester Theatre (I And You, Disgraced, Curve of Departure), WAM/Berkshire Theatre Group (Bakelite Masterpiece), The Adirondack Theatre Festival (The Whale). In NYC, Juliana designed for The Acting Company (Pudd’nhead Wilson, Taming of the Shrew), and The Juilliard School (La Cenerentola, Richard II). In LA, she designed for Echo Theatre Company (Uncle Vanya, Ghosts in the Cottonwood). Juliana also worked in television for TNT (Babylon5), BBC (Bugs), and Paramount (Star Trek NG/Voyager). Juliana holds an MFA in Scenic Design from Calarts and is a member of United Scenic Artists Union 829 and IATSE. Online: JvonHdesigns.com

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.

Dr. Laura Briggs (WAM Scholar-In-Residence) has been writing and teaching about reproductive politics for twenty years. Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Dr. Brigg’s most recent book titled Taking Children: A History of American Terror is on children in immigration detention or otherwise separated from their parents by the state. Although much of her work might be said to be on the pro-natalist side of thinking about reproductive justice–that is, how we enable the children we have to survive and thrive–she have been teaching and advising on the politics of how people prevent pregnancies and births they cannot sustain or do not want as well, including the history and politics of birth control and abortion. Dr. Briggs is the author of How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump (University of California Press, 2016); Somebody’s Children: The Politics of Transnational and Transracial Adoption (Duke, 2012), winner of the James A. Rawley Prize of the Organization of American Historians (History of U.S. Race Relations); Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico (American Crossroads Series, University of California Press, 2002); and co-editor with Diana Marre of International Adoption: Global Inequalities and the Circulation of Children (NYU Press, 2009). She has written more than three dozen articles and book chapters; some of my recent publications have been in Adoption and Culture; American Quarterly; Feminist Studies; Scholar and the Feminist Online; American Indian Quarterly; Scripta Nova (Barcelona). She is a member of the editorial committee of the American Crossroads and Reproductive Justice series at UC Pres. She has held fellowships and residencies at the University of Michigan, University of Utah, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and Harvard University. She has been part of the organizing collectives of the Tepoztlán Institute for Transnational History and the Thinking Transnational Feminisms Summer Institute. My education includes a Ph.D. from Brown University, American Studies, 1998, and a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.

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.


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