UBU Theater’s Site-Specific, Oral History, Theatrical Production of Women of Tyringham, Celebrates the Voices of Tyringham’s Women. Co-written by Rachel Urquhart and Ann Gallo, July 24, 25, 31 & August 1, 2021, Tyringham, MA.

TYRINGHAM, MA – (July 6, 2021) UBU Theater presents an original site-specific, oral history theatrical production, Women of Tyringham. Conceived, produced and directed by Ann Gallo. Co-written with author Rachel Urquhart. Performed by residents of Tyringham, MA, (population 416). Performances on July 24, 25, 31and August 1 at 11:00 AM, outdoors in the Tyringham Cemetery Field, Church Road, Tyringham, MA. Bring a lawn chair.

TICKETS $5 for Tyringham residents and relatives; $15 for non-residents; admission FREE for children under 12. Tickets purchased on day of show only. 

OVERVIEW  Women of Tyringham is a community-based oral history theater project. The project’s goal is to celebrate and share the unheralded voices of Tyringham’s women. Thirty-two audio-recorded interviews were conducted in 2019/20 with a cross section of local women from this rural, Berkshire community. These interviews were transcribed and transformed into an original script, bringing to life these women’s stories. They share deep aspirations, regrets, moments of happiness and loss. We experience childhood memories, falling in love, broken marriages and the joy of a best friend. On the darker side are tales of oppression, alcoholism and a “me too” moment. We also witness the realities of 18-year-old married mothers, death, loneliness, and the of impact these experiences. Ultimately, we embrace the tenacity, strength and resourcefulness of a Tyringham woman.

ABOUT THE PROJECT   Women of Tyringham came about through Ann Gallo’s work in the Tyringham Historical Commission’s dusty quarters – the town’s two-room schoolhouse. She spotted a stack of cassette tapes and, upon examination, realized that they comprised over three decades of oral history interviews with Tyringham residents. As Ann digitized the aging tapes, she was surprised at how few women had been interviewed. Among seventy recordings, a mere six women had been invited to tell their stories. This vacuum presented an incredible opportunity to enrich the town’s oral history archive with voices from the underrepresented fifty-one percent and to bring them to life through theater.

Oral histories are conventionally shared through presentations, alongside audio recordings, photographs and other printed documents. For Ann, however, theater was the obvious method. The script would be written blending verbatim theater strategies and more traditional playwriting methods. After attending a workshop at the British Library in London, Transcript to Script: Turning oral history into plays for stage and radio, Ann found the tools (and courage) to begin the project. She was fortunate to partner and co-write the original script with Tyringham author, Rachel Urquhart (The Visionist).

A unique aspect of this production is the site-specific venue. The outdoor field setting with a backdrop of the Union Church of Tyringham, the town’s two-room schoolhouse, the cemetery and the Tyringham Cobble creates a uniquely tactile audience experience. The deep agricultural roots within the Tyringham community make this remarkable location indispensable to the project.

Similar to a movie score, original instrumental music has been composed by Clark Wallace to help weave the multiple stories together. Local musicians have volunteered to participate. This is not a musical! As is Tyringham’s agricultural roots, music remains a fundamental character of this small Berkshire community.

The cast and crew are Tyringham or X-Tyringham residents. They are primarily non-actors and non-arts professionals. Community building (especially after a year of isolation) is at the heart of this project. After their success in the 2017 with the site-specific production of Our Town, the town has been eager to realize another community-based theatrical production.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS 

Ann Gallo (Producer, Director, Co-playwright) is the Founder and Artistic director of UBU Theater. The company’s mission is to give communities a voice through the arts. Ann was the Executive Producer of the 2018 Tyringham Arts Festival and of the 2017, site-specific production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”. Ann has directed and taught theater throughout the Berkshires, including at the Boys and Girls Club of the Berkshires and through Pittsfield Public schools’ EOS program for at-risk youth. Ann is a youth mentor with Pittsfield Community Connection. She currently serves on the Tyringham Historical Commission and on the board of IS183 Art School of the Berkshires. Ann holds and M.A. in Theatre Education/Community Track from Emerson College and a B.A. in Drama/Music Composition from Bennington College. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ann-gallo-31122032

Rachel Urquhart (Co-playwright) Rachel Urquhart began her magazine career at Spy and moved on to writing and editing at Vogue for over a decade. Rachel has been a writer her entire adult life, contributing pieces and the occasional snippet of fiction to a variety of publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Tin House, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Vanity Fair, Women’s Times and The Reader. She has also written three “lifestyle” books for the ChicSimple series (Knopf). Her first novel is The Visionist. After many years living with her family in Brooklyn, Rachel now resides full time in Tyringham. She obtained her B.A. from Tufts University and her M.F.A. in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. http://rachelurquhartwriter.com
 

Francis Bandy (Stage Manager/Assistant to the Producer).             

Clark Wallace (Composer/Musician).

ABOUT UBU THEATER   UBU Theater’s vision is to engage with communities who lack equitable access to the arts.  In partnership with UBU they develop unique, custom, theater and arts-based projects to articulate a community’s voice.

SUPPORT   This production is supported in part by the Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center, Massachusetts Local Cultural Councils of Tyringham, Monterey and Lee, and the Hop Brook Community Club of Tyringham.

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