Great Barrington Public Theater adds Wet Ink live stage readings and outdoor storytellers to season, plus a special presentation of Mr. Fullerton at The Mount, with playwright talkback, on July 14.
While currently performing a six-week season in the Daniel Arts Center, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Great Barrington Public Theater now adds the inventive Wet Ink series to the summer lineup. “Wet Ink gives us greater opportunity to present new talent, stories and plays to audiences, to get reactions and feedback for future possibility,” explains the Public’s Artistic Director Jim Frangione. “We look forward to hearing from people after they see what we’re incubating in the wings.”
This summer’s Wet Ink kicks off on July 10 at 4pm with live storytelling by Bard College at Simon’s Rock faculty member and award-winning fiction writer Brendan Mathews, whose recent short story collection debut, This Is Not a Love Song, was described in The New York Times as “admirably fearless” and whom critics have compared to Michael Chabon, E.L. Doctorow, and Dennis Lehane. He will be joined by the Public’s own playwright, poet and fiction writer, Elizabeth Nelson, whose dark and lyrical storytelling can be read in Canyon Voices Magazine and in the forthcoming summer issues of Heartland Society of Women Writers, Second Chance Lit, and Rhodora Magazine, among others. They appear together on July 10, in the Great Barrington Town Hall Park, and will be joined by Berkshire Busk, a mix of musicians and performers who are entertaining on the streets of Great Barrington all summer long.
On Monday, July 12, 7:30pm, the always imaginative Berkshire playwright Michael Brady will present a reading of his new play, Queen of the Sea, in the Daniel Arts Center Liebowitz Black Box Theater. In Queen of the Sea, three strangers meet on a cruise ship for ‘the voyage of a lifetime’. Nothing in their lifetimes has prepared them for what is to come. Queen of the Sea will be directed by Michelle Joyner and feature performances by Elizabeth Aspenlieder, David Joseph and Jessica Provenz.
On Monday and Tuesday August 2nd and 3rd at 7:30pm, in the McConnell Theater, audiences are in for a rare treat when familiar and diverse stage, film and TV actor Treat Williams gives them a first look at his new play, Grant. It’s an intimate exploration into the life, spirit, character and candor of iconic Ulysess S. Grant, performed by Williams in the persona of Grant himself. The Public hopes to further develop Grant and encourages early reservations to this special presentation of the new work.
August 4, 7:30pm, the McConnell stage comes entrancingly to life with The Queen of Fenway Court, a new play written and performed by superbly accomplished and creative actor-writer Leigh Strimbeck, directed by Joshua Briggs. The Queen of Fenway Court brings to life what drove the Gilded Age historical personality Isabella Stewart Gardner of Boston to build and fill one of the most extraordinary museums in the world. The reading will be accompanied with live music composed by Jan Jurchak.
Not actually part of the Wet Ink series, but a special add-on to the scheduled stage season, on July 14, at 4pm, playwright Anne Undeland, director Judy Braha and members of the cast of Undeland’s delightful new play Mr. Fullerton, about the romantic and sexual awakening of Edith Wharton, will present a special afternoon reading of selections from the play and a talkback at Edith Wharton’s beloved estate, The Mount, in Lenox. This partnering of The Mount and The Public is a ticketed event, available through The Mount’s website.
Wet Ink and Mr Fullerton Artis Bios:
Brendan Mathews is the author of This Is Not a Love Song and The World of Tomorrow, both published by Little, Brown and Co. This Is Not a Love Song was longlisted for the Massachusetts Book Awards and shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. The World of Tomorrow was named an Honor Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards and longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. It was also named an Indie Next Great Read and an Editors’ Choice by the New York Times Book Review. His moving and darkly witty stories have been described as” admirably fearless” (New York Times Book Review) from a writer whom critics have compared to Michael Chabon, E.L. Doctorow, and Dennis Lehane. His fiction has twice appeared in The Best American Short Stories and in Glimmer Train, Virginia Quarterly Review, Salon, Cincinnati Review, and other publications in the US and UK. He has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the Sewanee Writers Conference. Born and raised in upstate New York, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his MFA from the University of Virginia. He lives with his wife and their four children in Lenox, Massachusetts, and teaches at Bard College at Simon’s Rock.
Elizabeth Nelson is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and marketing/communications professional. Her most recent play, Colors Inside the Body, was read in May 2019 at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre in NYC, presented by Texas Wesleyan University’s Playmarket. Colors was written and developed as part of her involvement with Berkshire Voices, a local writing group dedicated to fostering the process of creating new work. In 2018, Denver’s The Athena Project workshopped her play, The Golden Hour, as part of its annual “Plays in Progress Series.” Fugue, A Ten-Minute Play (Black Box Press), is consistently produced worldwide, and The Going Price (Steele Spring Stage Rights) was selected in 2011 as part of Red Bull Theater’s inaugural Short New Play Festival. Directing credits include the world premieres of The Chess Lesson by Sari Caine and Spark by Angela Santillo, Rumors, Tallgrass Gothic, Arsenic and Old Lace, Pillow Talk, and Emily, among others. From 2009 to 2016, Elizabeth worked for the national labor union, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), launching SDC Journal, a craft magazine for which she served as both art director and managing editor from inception through the first nine years of the publication’s development. The magazine continues to celebrate and inform more than 3,000 directors and choreographers across the country. Currently, Elizabeth is the marketing and communications manager for Berkshire Humane Society (BHS).
Michael Brady is a playwright and director. His play, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday was developed through the literary department of The Ensemble Studio Theatre and moved to Circle-in-the-Square in New York. Gillian was awarded the Oppenheimer Award by Newsday, and then produced as a film by Sony Pictures. Other stage works include: Sara, Equity Library Theatre at Lincoln Center, Semper Fi, Gloucester Stage Company, Hard Time, Main Street Stage, North Adams, Massachusetts and Two Bears Blinking, New Theatre, Miami. As a producer, Michael created TheatreFest, a celebration of new works for the theatre with a May 2019 launch at Saint James Place. His recent play Pipeline was featured in Barrington Stage Company’s 2019 10×10 New Play Festival in Pittsfield. Michael has also served as a playwright mentor with Barrington Stage, helping local students find their own voices in the theatre. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Ensemble Studio Theatre.
With Berkshire Playwrights Lab Michael has had staged readings of two recent plays: Titles, The Season and Green Tiger Seven. He has also directed in BPL’s first two Radius Festivals. In addition to his work in theatre, Michael served for several years as the Program Officer for Artists for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, overseeing a grant giving program for literary, visual and performance artists. Michael lives in Southfield, Massachusetts with his wife, Patricia Jacobsen-Brady. His plays are available from Broadway Play Publishing.
Leigh Strimbeck is an actor, director, acting teacher and writer. She holds a BFA from NYU in Dance/Drama and has taught at the Actors and Directors Lab and elsewhere for many years. She’s lived, taught and toured with a children’s theater company in Sweden, was a member of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, Bloomsburg, PA, where she taught, performed and directed plays including: Fools Rush In, Voice of The Prairie, Sea Marks, The Nest, Daytrips, The Baltimore Waltz, Death of a Salesman, and most recently The Explorers Club. In twelve years with BTE she’s acted in dozens of plays and served as Ensemble Director for three years. She was a site reporter for the National Endowment for the Arts for five years, and spent three years on the professional theatre companies panel, traveled with BTE during a USIA tour of Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia. She remains a proud associate member of BTE. In 2010 she co-founded WAM Theatre in the Berkshires with Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven,(wamtheatre.com).
Plays directed at various theaters include Children of a Lesser God, On The Verge, Tonight We Improvise, The Mystery of Irma Vep, and Private Eyes. She co-wrote and directed Berwick, America and This House Builded, both plays commissioned by their communities. One man shows: Here Be Dragons co-written with Paul Outlaw; Heavy Mettle and Working Class, both written and performed by Richard Hoehler. She was an adjunct acting professor at SUNY Albany for 11 years and an artist in residence at Russell Sage College in Troy, New York for 10 years, where she created and directed two devised theater pieces: Mirror, Mirror and “I’m Not a Feminst, But….”; directed Jamuna Yvetter Sirker’s Hell and Highwater; adapted and directed The Trojan Women, which appeared at the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble’s First Stories Festival in NYC and the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers (2013), directed I Never Saw Another Butterfly, Spring Awakening and Cabaret. She also performed Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Beth in Tribes. She has directed staged readings for WAM, The Rep in Albany, and The Berkshire Playwrights Lab.
Treat Williams began his career as Danny Zuko in Grease on Broadway, Berger In the movie Hair, and Danny Ciello in Prince of the City, which launched a film career which has lasted over 40 years. He has been nominated for four Golden Globe awards, the Best Actor Emmy award, and two Best Actor Screen Actors Guild Awards, and has won two Theater World Awards for his work in Broadway musicals.
His multiple film credits include The Ritz ,1941, The Eagle Has Landed, SmoothTalk (First Prize, Sundance), Once Upon A Time In America, Deep Rising, The Phantom, Deep End of The Ocean, The Devil’s Own, What Happens In Vegas, Woody Allen’s Hollywood Ending, 127 Hours, and The Congressman. He has recently been seen in Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square and Twelve Mighty Orphans.
On television he recently played Ted Kennedy in HBO’s Confirmation. For four seasons he starred as Dr. Andy Brown on the critically acclaimed Everwood. The Late Shift (Emmy Nom), A Streetcar Named Desire (Golden Globe Nom) and has guested on Law and Order: SVU, White Collar, Chicago Fire, Blue Bloods, and on The Simpsons as himself. He now stars as Mick O’Brien on Chesapeake Shores for the Hallmark Channel. He has starred on Broadway in Grease, Over Here, Once In A Lifetime, Pirates of Penzance, Love Letters, Captains Courageous, and Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. He recently played Teach in David Mamet’s American Buffalo at the Dorset Theater Festival. A commercial pilot and flight instructor with over ten thousand hours in the cockpit, Mr Williams has been flying airplanes and helicopters of all shapes and sizes for over 40 years and was named ‘A Living Legend Of Aviation’ for his contributions to general aviation in America. He has two children, Gill 29 and Ellie 22, and ives in Vermont with his wife Pam.
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.
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, now in its third season. He directed Anne Undeland’s acclaimed play, Lady Randy, at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre 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 SimMon’s Rock (Berkshire Theatre Critic’s Nomination). His play, Flight of the Monarch, received it 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 locally. Our objective is to bring new plays to the stage, and to generate and foster rigorous creative opportunity for local theater artists while engaging our theatergoing public with readings, workshops, and fully staged productions, employing local talent, and always keeping ticket prices affordable.