In line with WAM’s mission of donating a portion of all box office proceeds to organizations that work to benefit the lives of women and girls in our Berkshire community and worldwide, the play reading has raised $3,225 for the BRIDGE COVID-19 Emergency Fund so far.
BRIDGE, a grassroots organization in Berkshire County founded by Gwendolyn VanSant, is dedicated to advancing equity and justice by promoting cultural competence, positive psychology, and mutual understanding and acceptance. BRIDGE started the COVID-19 Emergency Fund at the beginning of this pandemic. The fund helps ensure that their constituents have what they need during this pandemic, including child and elder care, meals, fresh farm food, health supplies, masks, and technology enhancements. Donors attending the WAM reading were asked to send their contributions directly to BRIDGE.. People who would like to support the fund can make a donation directly at https://www.multiculturalbridge.org/ways-to-give.html
“Since the onset of the quarantine and limited work for families, BRIDGE has been immersed in activating and mobilizing resources in order to serve the more vulnerable Berkshire populations,“ said Gwendolyn VanSant, CEO and Founding Director. “The WAM community (WAMily) has joined us in this effort to support our BRIDGE network. Under Kristen’s & my leadership over the years, BRIDGE and WAM have served as each other’s mutual aid in advancing our missions of equity and justice. We are deeply grateful for this latest partnership as it directly nourishes our shared community in the most essential and basic human ways.”
“With COVID 19 taking over our lives, WAM has taken the past few weeks to pause and reflect,” shares Kristen van Ginhoven, WAM Producing Artistic Director. “This pandemic has made the inequities in our communities clearer than ever. As we await official guidelines for our next steps with live programming, our arts and activism mission stays intact with online events such as this inaugural reading to benefit BRIDGE’s incredible COVID-19 efforts. We are grateful to WAM Board Member Ellen Ring for sponsoring CAMPUS UNREST.”
This online performance brought together an exciting ensemble of actors. WAM was delighted to welcome back: Hubens ‘Bobby’ Cius (Pipeline, and recent Elliot Norton Award Nominee), Rachel Siegel (Special, Swallow, Can You Hear Me..), Joan Coombs (Emilie…, Escaped Alone), and Maizy Scarpa (Grand Concourse, The Tall Girls, 24 Hour Theatre Project). WAM also welcomed two newcomers Trenda Loftin (WAM Teaching Artist) and Daniel Rios. Every artist in this reading received an honorarium for participating.
“[It was] a total surprise to me how much I enjoyed it,” said WAM Board Member Toni Buckley. “While I am experiencing virtual/Zoom fatigue, the WAM virtual play reading was refreshing and inspirational. I was able to lean back and enjoy professional theatre while relaxing in my hammock.”
The script follows Mia, Kwame, and Darren as they arrived at a prestigious New England college in 2014 during a time of social upheaval. All the characters are determined to infuse their education with activism, but haunted by their own backgrounds and identities, as well as the actual specter of a beloved professor.
“By fall 2014, racial tensions in America were amplified by the increasing public coverage of police shootings of black people,” said WAM’s Associate Producing Director Lia Russell-Self, who stage managed the online reading. “Black Liberation Collectives sprang up on campuses throughout the United States staging sit-ins and protests. In CAMPUS UNREST we see the slow burn combination that defined a time in the fight for racial justice.”
“[This] seems like a great way to connect with a broader audience,” said WAM Audience Member Andrea Stoller. “In the future I’ll encourage friends to participate so we can discuss afterwards via a Zoom cocktail party.”
Visit WAM Theatre online at wamtheatre.com for the most up-to-date information on WAM programs and events during COVID-19.
AT A GLANCE
by Talya Kingston
Fresh Takes Online Play Reading via Zoom
Sunday, May 3, 2020
Hubens “Bobby” Cius as Darren
Joan Coombs as Sue and Professor Cellino
Trenda Loftin as Angela
Daniel Rios as Kwame
Maizy Broderick Scarpa as Jo
Rachel Siegel as Mia
Stage Manager: Lia Russell-Self
All donations were made directly to the BRIDGE COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
TALYA KINGSTON (WAM Theatre Associate Artistic Director) Playwriting: Campus Unrest (2019 Silverthorne Theatre, 2018 Play by Play Festival, finalist in the 2019 Bechtel Test Fest), Wave Goodbye (up-coming Fall staged reading at the PLAYground TYA Festival at NorthWestern University, semi-finalist for Provincetown Playhouse’s New Plays for Young Audiences), Sheryl Addresses the PGO (The New England Monologues Project), Wishing on Satellites, Anxiety Overdrive. Dramaturgy: WAM Theatre (Lady Randy), Hartford Stage (Necessary Targets, Write On! Teen Playwrights Series, My Hartford Teen Performance Ensemble Oral History Project), New York Fringe Festival (Helmet), Ko Festival (Seriously.. What Did You Call Me? Written and performed by Onawumi Jean Moss), UMass, Amherst (Gum, Christmas Carol, Bovver Boys, The Last Five Years, Life is a Dream, Late Style). Publications: Scene Magazine, Theater Journal, The Moving Voice, European Stages, Howlround and The Valley Advocate. Training: MFA University of Massachusetts, Directing Fellow at Julliard. Etc: proud member of the Northampton Playwrights Lab, and North-East Regional VP for LMDA Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.
BRIDGE is a grassroots organization dedicated to catalyzing change and integration through promoting mutual respect and understanding.
Since 2007, BRIDGE’s mission has been “promoting mutual understanding and respect among diverse groups serving as a resource to both local institutions and the community at large. We serve as catalysts for change and integration through collaboration, education, training, dialogue, fellowship and advocacy.” Our core values are accountability, celebration, learning, collaboration, and equity.
Through a 360 degree perspective on community and civic participation, BRIDGE has designed a holistic approach to community and public health. BRIDGE’s goal is to impact hearts, minds and behaviors that result in positive cultural shifts and systemic changes in policy, law and practice towards a more just, safe and equitable society.
Services include access to cultural literacy and cultural competence training; diversity equity and inclusion consulting, facilitation; youth leadership; multicultural education; parent engagement and education; civil rights and social justice forums and advocacy with diverse groups. We facilitate cultural competence programming in schools and institutions to promote equity and to educate on systemic racism and cultural barriers, and are designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a vendor in the Supplier Diversity Program in the spirit of the Affirmative Market Campaign.
For more information, www.multiculturalbridge.org
WAM 2020 Sponsors
WAM’s 2020 sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Berkshire 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, Frankie’s Ristorante Italiano, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Haven Cafe and Bakery, Health Professional Coaching, Heller & Robbins, Interprint, J.H. Maxymillian, Inc., Lake House Inn. Lee Bank, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Only in My Dreams Events, Onyx Specialty Papers, Outpost Productions, RB Design Co., The Rookwood Inn, T Square Design Studio, Toole Insurance, a. von schlegell & co., and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.
WAM Theatre is also supported in part by grants from Alford-Egremont Cultural Council, Lenox Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Sandisfield Cultural Council, Washington Cultural Council, and the West Stockbridge Cultural Council – local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
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