GREAT BARRINGTON PUBLIC THEATER PLANS SUMMER OF HEARTFELT COMEDY, LITERARY DELIGHT AND MASTERFUL SUSPENSE. THREE NEW PLAYS, ON TWO STAGES, PLUS WET INK READINGS AND SOLO PERFORMANCES.
From late June to early August, Great Barrington Public Theater will bring a diverse six-weeks to the Daniel Arts Center, at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Great Barrington. Keeping with the Public’s core mission, the 2021 program spotlights original work and new voices, largely comprised of local area talent. Tickets will remain affordable to all, between $20 and $40.
“After several months eagerly looking forward to reopening, we have finalized plans for a powerful trio of fully-staged new plays by well-known and respected writers, featuring many of our most lovable, notable Berkshire actors, along with a selection of captivating solo-artist performances that will delight and surprise everyone,” Artistic Director Jim Frangione said. “As disappointing as the forced hiatus has been, we are all excited to get back into the theater.”
“We welcome everyone in the Berkshires and beyond to come out, come back, be safe, comfortable, and join us for an exhilarating and lively summer,” Deann Simmons Halper, Executive Director said. “We’re presenting top-tier new plays and excellent artists to all audiences and looking forward to a rejuvenating season of fantastic theater on two stages.”
The Public’s schedule opens at the Daniel Art Center mainstage McConnell Theater, June 24-July 3 with DAD, a poignant, heartfelt and humorous new jewel of a comedy by Mark St. Germain, one of the Berkshires most popular, respected, award-winning playwrights. DAD takes a loving, quizzical, often comical look at sibling and parent rivalries, the long arm and arc of family, and the challenges of aging, reconciliations and soulful self-discoveries. The cast includes Berkshire favorites Mark H. Dold and Peggy Pharr Wilson, as well as Broadway veteran Larry Bryggman, and David Smilow.
DAD is followed by Mr. Fullerton, a steamy, eyebrow-raising return to the Gilded Age by way of a daring new play by Anne Undeland, a favorite local playwright-actor, and directed by Judy Braha. Playing July 21-August 1 (two shows added July 28, 29 & 31) at the intimate Liebowitz Black Box Theater in the Daniel Arts Center, Mr. Fullerton brings together Edith Wharton, Henry James, Morton Fullerton and Edith’s saucy Irish maid for parlor games and society foreplay from Paris to Lenox in a rich, retelling of Wharton’s actual, truelove romance with a younger, stateroom dandy. Mr. Fullerton is a banquet of language, poise, sex, mores and manner that rings with literary and local history.
Next up on the McConnell Theater mainstage is the East Coast premiere of The Christopher Boy’s Communion, a taut, new suspense by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Mamet, running from July 29 -August 8 and directed by Artistic Director Jim Frangione. Originally scheduled last season, but cancelled due to Covid-19, Frangione says, “This new play touches on themes Mamet has grappled with many times over his storied career—persecution, prosecution, guilt, innocence and absolution. Audiences will love seeing this new play performed by an all-star Berkshire cast”. Cast includes Kiera Naughton, David Adkins, Will LeBow, Diane Prusha and Kevin O’Rourke.
Press openings, casting and ticket information for DAD, Mr. Fullerton and The Christopher Boy’s Communion will be released soon.
Across the summer and leading into the fall, the company will also present its engaging and enjoyable Wet Ink series of new works. As Frangione puts it, “Wet Ink brings out the best of area talent and showcases new and established playwrights, performers and storytellers. It’s a great way for us to share new discoveries and possibilities with live audiences.” Wet Ink dates will be announced in the coming weeks. Theater lovers can look forward to Grant, a first-ever and revealing look at Ulysses S. Grant, a solo play written and performed by well-known actor Treat Willams. Also in the works is The Queen of Fenway Court, a new, solo play by area writer/actress Leigh Strimbeck about museum founder Isabella Stewart Gardner.
The Daniel Arts Center is located on the campus of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 84 Alford Road, Great Barrington, MA 01230.
Mark St. Germain (Playwright) Mark has written the plays Freud’s Last Session (Off Broadway Alliance Award), Camping With Henry and Tom (Outer Critics Circle Award and Lucille Lortel Award) Forgiving Typhoid Mary, (Time Magazine’s “Year’s Ten Best”) and Becoming Dr. Ruth, the story of Dr. Ruth Westheimer. He also wrote the play, Best of Enemies (adapted from the novel by Osha Gray Davidson), Ears On A Beatle, Scott and Hem, and Out of Gas on Lover’s Leap. His play Relativity, starred Richard Dreyfuss at Theaterworks in Hartford and at Northlight, in Chicago and broke both theaters’ box office records. It was selected for the National New Play Network Rolling World Premieres award and produced across the country. In 2019 Mark’s adaptation of John Updike’s novel Gertrude and Claudius premiered in repertory with Hamlet at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival and was presented at the Barrington Stage Company in the Berkshires. A second premiere was Wednesday’s Child at the Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota. With Randy Courts, he has written the musicals The Gifts of The Magi, Johnny Pye and The Foolkiller (Lamb’s Theater) and Jack’s Holiday. Mark’s musical, Stand By Your Man, The Tammy Wynette Story was created for Nashville’s Ryman Theater (under option for touring). With John Markus he wrote the comedy with music, The Fabulous Lipitones. Mark co-wrote the screenplay for Carroll Ballard’s Warner Brothers film, DUMA. He directed and produced the documentary, MY DOG, An Unconditional Love Story, featuring Richard Gere, and Glenn Close among others. Television credits include The Cosby Show and for Dick Wolf’s Crime and Punishment. He wrote the award-winning children’s book Three Cups and is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Writer’s Guild East and an Associate Artist at the Barrington Stage Company. In 2010, Barrington Stage named their second stage “The St. Germain Stage.”
Anne Undeland (Playwright/Actor) is a member of Berkshire Voices (a program of Great Barrington Public Theater) and Howl Playwrights, Rhinebeck, NY, where two of her 10-minute plays, The Sisterhood and Bob Dole for President received public readings. Her short plays, The Kiss and Another Party of the Wood, were selected for BPL’s Radius Festival in 2018 and 2019. The Kiss won best play at Writer’s Voice Ten Minute Play Festival at the West Side Y in New York in 2018. She is currently at work on Touch, an evening of humorous social commentary sketches. Lady Randy, her first full-length play, was produced by WAM Theater at Shakespeare & Co in Lenox, MA in 2019, directed by Jim Frangione. http://www. anneundeland.com.
David Mamet (Playwright) is the author of the plays: The Anarchist, November, Boston Marriage, Faustus, Oleanna, Glengarry Glen Ross (1984 Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle Award), American Buffalo, Race, The Old Neighborhood, Life in the Theatre, Speed-the- Plow, Edmond, Lakeboat, The Water Engine, The Woods, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Reunion and The Cryptogram (1995 Obie Award). His translations and adaptations include Faustus, Red River by Pierre Laville and The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekov. His films include The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Verdict, The Untouchables, House of Games (writer/director), Oleanna (writer/director), Homicide (writer/director), The Spanish Prisoner (writer/director),Heist (writer/director), Spartan (writer/director) and Redbelt (writer/director). Mamet is also the author of Warm and Cold, a book for children with drawings by Donald Sultan, and two other children’s books, Passover and The Duck and the Goat. His most recent books include True and False, Three Uses of the Knife, The Wicked Son, Bambi Vs. Godzilla, The Secret Knowledge and the shoot-em-up novel of prohibition, Chicago.
Judy Braha (Director) has been a director, actor, teacher and arts activist in New England for over four decades. Head of the M.F.A. Directing Program at Boston University’s School of Theater, her teaching, directing and guest artist credits include theaters and universities throughout New England and beyond. Judy collaborates with the College of Fine Arts Prison Arts Project working with Andre De Quadros teaching Empowering Song, sharing collaborative arts with incarcerated students in Massachusetts’ prisons and jails. At Boston University, Judy co-teaches the Collaborative Arts Incubator, focused on the arts and social justice as well as fosters opportunities for students to understand arts and activism in workshops such as the groundbreaking Race, Prison, Justice: Illuminating Story Through the Arts. Judy is currently collaborating on a new solo piece about the feminist, suffragist, abolitionist, Julia Ward Howe, Representation and How to Get It by Joyce Van Dyke.Recent directing credits include: Golda’s Balcony (NEW REP), To Kill A Mockingbird(GSC), Emilie, La Marquise du Chatelet, Defends Her Life Tonight(CST), I Am Lear, a devised piece on aging (ASP) and Our Country’s Good + The Exonerated at BU/SOT. A longtime member of the Society of Directors and Choreographers, Judy is also proud to have been a founding board member of Stage Source, New England’s service organization for connecting theater-makers in community.
Jim Frangione (Artistic Director) After more than ten years developing new plays with Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Jim is excited about the emergence of Great Barrington Public Theater as it heads into its second season. He directed Anne Undeland’s acclaimed new play, Lady Randy, at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox; David Mamet’s Romance at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater; Private Life at HERE Arts in NY; and An Evening of Shorts by Mamet, Pinter and Silverstein at the ART/Harvard Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. Jim’s play Breakwater, the second of his trilogy of Cape Cod plays, received its premiere in 2019 at the Daniel Arts Center at Simon’s Rock (Berkshire Theatre Critic’s Nomination) His play, Flight of the Monarch, received its world premiere at Gloucester Stage Company in 2017. Jim has acted for over 35 years; Off-Broadway at the Orpheum Theater in the original production of Oleanna, as well as the National Tour; in many plays with the Atlantic Theater Company, on Broadway and at regional theaters such as The Mark Taper Forum, Long Wharf, Alley Theater, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville—and most recently in David Mamet’s Prairie Du Chien at Atlantic and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Shakespeare & Company. Jim’s film work includes Joy; Transamerica; Spartan; Heist; State and Main; The Spanish Prisoner; Homicide; Suits; Claire Dolan and Maryam.
Deann Simmons Halper (Executive Director) is an actor, director and producer. She has produced several New York and Regional productions including the OBIE-nominated Incommunicado and The Vagina Monologues. Halper has served on the board of directors for Circle Rep, New York Stage and Film, TriArts’ Sharon Playhouse, Barrington Stage Company and Berkshire Playwrights Lab, and she is currently on the board of directors for Space on Ryder Farm and Board of Visitors at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Most recently Halper has appeared in QWERTY at Mixed Company; Death and the Maiden at New Stage; Four Dogs and a Bone with Berkshire Actors Theatre; and The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls at WAM Theatre, among many others.
Tristan Wilson (Managing Director) Tristan is happy to be reuniting with Jim Frangione whom he partnered with while working at Berkshire Playwrights Lab in 2017. Tristan has also worked for Barrington Stage Co and The Mahaiwe here in the Berkshires. Over his career Tristan has worked on theatre (Broadway, Off- Broadway and regionally), opera, dance, music, live television, radio and special event productions. A few of his credits include: B’way – 42nd Street, Ten Unknowns, Chaucer in Rome and Invention of Love; Off-B’way – Three Hotels, Urinetown, Freud’s Last Session, Becoming Dr. Ruth and Force Continuum. Off- B’way clients include Atlantic Theatre, American Place Theatre, Jane St. Theatre, Lambs Theatre and Actor’s Playhouse. PBS/Live from Lincoln Center – Hansel and Gretel produced by the Juilliard School and Live from the Kaplan Penthouse performances by Renee Fleming and Itzhak Perlman. Regional Theatres include Missouri Rep, Dallas Theatre Center, Creede Repertory Theatre and Theatre Three in Dallas. He also spent seven years on the production staff at the Juilliard School in Lincoln Center. He is married to Berkshires actress Peggy Pharr Wilson.
Great Barrington Public Theater was founded by Jim Frangione and Deann Simmons Halper to create opportunities for theater artists in the Berkshires and neighboring regions. Great Barrington Public Theater recognizes the many excellent playwrights, actors, directors, designers, administrators and technicians living in the Berkshires and surrounding areas. Our objective is to bring a mix of new and contemporary plays to the stage in a variety of formats; to generate and foster creative and rigorous opportunity for local theater artists, while engaging our theatergoing public with new and contemporary readings, workshops, and fully staged productions, involving local talent as often as possible, and keeping ticket prices affordable.