Gathering Around Ground-Breaking Stories of Empowerment
LENOX, MA (March 3, 2022) Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven, Associate Artistic Director Talya Kingston, and the WAM team today announced a 2022 season centering different versions of empowerment through four groundbreaking theatrical stories and a cabaret benefit performance that will take place in venues across the region The season includes: The New Galileos by Amy Berryman, Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield, a MisCast Cabaret, Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill, and Cadillac Crew by Tori Sampson.
“WAM’s 13th season puts women center stage and in control of their own lives and bodies,” shared Talya Kingston, WAM Associate Artistic Director. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with arts venues from across the region and incredible Berkshire-based theatre artists to present a series of dynamic and unique live performances as gathering spaces for community. At each event, we will witness women stepping out of a narrative that has been set for them and into their own power in unexpected ways. Written by some of our best living playwrights, the stories we will share explode with ideas but center on relationships and in doing so offer new perspectives on how to interact with each other and the world.”
The season begins with a staged reading of The New Galileos by Amy Berryman (Walden Theaterworks Hartford & London’s West End), directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian (WAM’s Holy Laughter; Skeleton Crew at Huntington Theatre Co.), performed on Sunday May 1 at 2pm at Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. This reading is being presented in partnership with Berkshire Museum and Flying Cloud Institute‘s Girls In Science Program.
In a future not too distant from our own, three female scientists—a marine biologist, a glaciologist, and a soil expert—are being held hostage by their government because of their work fighting climate change. As they are interrogated, the women face the ultimate question: what are they willing to sacrifice to defend the truth? Amy Berryman’s edgy new play explores the interaction of science and capitalism.
“I’m thrilled to be returning to WAM, and especially to be digging into Amy Berryman’s vivid and gripping The New Galileos.” explains director Megan Sandberg-Zakian. “As the daughter of a molecular biologist mom, I am wildly moved and terrified by this brilliant intersection of a near-future authoritarian regime with the personal, professional, and ethical stakes that female scientists already face.”
The next Fresh Takes Play Reading will be Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield (The Call at Playwrights’ Horizons; The Blue Door, Pulitzer nominee), directed by Gina Kaufmann (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company). This play will be presented in Club B10 at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Sunday June 5 at 2pm in celebration of Pride Month eighteen years after Massachusetts became the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage.
A kaleidoscopic play about love, heartbreak, skydiving, and the infinite moments that make a relationship. Hailed by The New Yorker as a “well-written portrayal of smart women finding, losing, and finding themselves and each other again,” Bright Half Life follows the deep and complicated love story of Vicky and Erica. Pause. Rewind. Fast forward. And hold on!
“I fell in love with Bright Half Life because it is about two women who feel real to me and who I can wholly root for,” said director Gina Kaufmann. “The play asks whether love, even huge soulmate love, even love that includes family and kids, is enough to give our lives meaning.”
On Thursday July 7, Join WAM for a special evening of Broadway music, hosted by Tony Award and Drama Desk Nominee Jayne Atkinson (WAM’s Ann, The Rainmaker, Enchanted April, House of Cards, Criminal Minds, Bluff City Law). In this MisCast Cabaret, WAM artists, accompanied by live musicians, will perform favorite songs from musical theatre roles in which they would not traditionally be cast.
Our next Fresh Takes Play Reading will be Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill (Cloud 9, Top Girls) directed by Kristen van Ginhoven (WAM’s Producing Artistic Director and Co-Founder). take place on Sunday August 7 at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home in Lenox.
Back by popular demand and featuring some of the region’s favorite actors, Escaped Alone, by iconic feminist playwright Caryl Churchill, brings us to a backyard where three old friends and a neighbor spend a series of summer afternoons chatting, while visions of apocalyptic horror play out inside their minds. Deemed “the most dazzlingly inventive living dramatist in the English language” by The New York Times, Churchill entwines histories, laughter, and song over tea and catastrophe.
“While written before this pandemic, Escaped Alone provides a resonant opportunity to use humor and absurdity to look at it all,” explains Kristen van Ginhoven. “If we can’t laugh at all we are facing in our inner and outer worlds, then what do we have? I am excited to explore how one of our most esteemed contemporary female playwrights defies convention to explore how we navigate catastrophe.”
WAM is excited to announce that their fall mainstage production will be Cadillac Crew by Tori Sampson (If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must be a Muhfucka, Playwrights Horizons; This Land Was Made, Vineyard Theater) featuring Featuring MaConnia Chesser (WAM’s ROE, The Virgin Trial, et al.; An Iliad, Ancram Opera House & Shakespeare & Company) performed at the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox.
The play opens with four female activists working in a Virginia civil rights office on the day of a much anticipated speech by Rosa Parks. From the Civil Rights Movement to the present day, Cadillac Crew illuminates forgotten leaders who blazed the trail for desegregation and women’s rights. With remarkable insight, explosive storytelling and unexpected humor, the play asks, what happens when black women refuse to be written out of history?
WAM is honored to be presenting the second professional production of this fast-paced extraordinary play that the Hartford Courant called: “Brilliant… it accesses history, namechecks African-American icons, chronicles challenging relationships, evokes harsh realities of urban life, breaks into strident proclamations… Strap in for a wild, mind-expanding ride.”
In addition to WAM’s performance programming, the company has expanded its Community Engagement programs and outreach. Beginning in March with two free online workshops – Playwriting with Winter Miller (In Darfur, The Penetration Play) and Improvisation with Tatiana Godfrey (Improv Cincinnati and Impro Theatre LA) – WAM also will be bringing back our popular devised theatre ensembles: the Teen Ensemble during the April school break and the Elder Ensemble in August. Other programming include a new online conversation series which will allow WAM patrons to interact with some of this season’s groundbreaking theatre artists and activists.
Much of the 2022 Season will also be available as a live stream for those who wish to partake in WAM’s offerings from the comfort of their own homes.
WAM’s Fresh Takes Play Pass is now on sale. Join WAM in-person for a season of new groundbreaking readings. See all 3 with the purchase of a Fresh Takes Play Pass. Seating is limited at all Fresh Takes readings, and expected to sell-out, your purchase of a Fresh Takes Play Pass guarantees your seat all season!
Each Pass includes one ticket each to: The New Galileos on Sunday May 1 at Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA; Bright Half Life on Sunday June 5 at Mass Moca, Club B10, North Adams, MA; Escaped Alone on Sunday August 7 at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home, Lenox, MA.
Single tickets to Fresh Takes play readings will go on sale March 15.
WAM will release tickets for the MisCast Cabaret and fall mainstage Cadillac Crew in the coming months.
For tickets and more information about WAM Theatre’s 2022 Season, programs, events, and artists, please visit wamtheatre.com.
WAM THEATRE 2022 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
THE NEW GALILEOS
A Fresh Takes Play Reading
by Amy Berryman
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Sunday, May 1, 2pm
Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield
BRIGHT HALF LIFE
A Fresh Takes Play Reading
by Tanya Barfield
Directed by Gina Kaufmann
MASS MoCA, Club B10, North Adams
Sunday, June 5, 2pm
A benefit performance with live music
Hosted by Jayne Atkinson
Thursday, July 7, 7pm
A Fresh Takes Play Reading
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Kristen van Ginhoven
The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home, Lenox
Sunday, August 7, 2pm
Fall Mainstage Production
By Tori Sampson
Featuring MaConnia Chesser
Tina Packer Playhouse, Shakespeare & Company, Lenox
For more information about the 2022 Season and WAM Theatre’s programs, events, and artists, please visit www.WAMTheatre.com.
WAM’s 2022 ARTISTS
Jayne Atkinson (she/her) has enjoyed a long and varied career as an actress, director, and producer. Current Role With WAM: MisCast Cabaret Host. Previous WAM: Ann, Motherhood Out Loud. Broadway: Jayne made her Broadway debut in a revival production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Other Broadway credits include The Rainmaker (Tony nomination), Our Town with Paul Newman, Enchanted April (Tony nomination, Drama Desk nomination; Outer Critics Circle Award) and Blithe Spirit with the wonderful Angela Lansbury. Selected Off-Broadway: The Art of Success (Drama Desk nomination) and The Skriker (Drama Desk nomination). Selected Film: Free Willy 1&2, The Village and Syriana. Selected TV: On television she is known for her guest appearances on the hit series The X-Files, Gossip Girl, Chicago Med and The Good Wife, among others. As a recurring character, she has played Karen Hayes on the award-winning 24, Erin Strauss on Criminal Minds, Secretary of State Catherine Durant on the popular Netflix Series House of Cards, Vice President Teresa Hurst on Madam Secretary, Georgie in The Walking Dead, Daria Reese in Castle Rock, and most recently Della Bedford in Bluff City Law and Ruth Martin in Clarice. Producing: Jayne has produced for WAM and the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. She also runs Jadana Productions, which specializes in entertainment development. Education: Northwestern University and Yale Drama School. Etc: Jayne’s other areas of expertise include coaching and teaching. In her spare time, she promotes women’s causes, travels, participates in fundraisers. She is married to actor Michel Gill. Together they have one son.
Tanya Barfield (she/her) is a playwright, screenwriter and Julliard faculty member whose works have been presented both nationally and internationally. Current Role with WAM: playwright (Bright Half Life) Plays: The Call (premiered at Playwrights Horizons in co-production with Primary Stages), Blue Door (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and AUDELCO Award and was seen at numerous theaters around the country), Of Equal Measure (Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award). Tanya’s short plays include: Medallion (Women’s Project/Antigone Project), Foul Play (Royal Court Theatre, Cultural Center Bank of Brazil), The Wolves and Wanting North (Guthrie Theatre Lab, published in: Best 10-Minute Plays of 2003). Tanya wrote the book for the Theatreworks/USA children’s musical, Civil War: The First Black Regiment which toured public schools around the country. TV/Film: Tanya also writes for television (HBO, FX, Showtime) and shares Writers Guild of America Awards for her work on season four of FX’s The Americans and for the episode on Shirley Chisholm in Mrs America. Theater Awards: Barfield has been a recipient of a 2013 Lilly Award and the first inaugural Lilly Award Commission, a 2003 Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, a 2005 Honorable Mention for the Kesselring Prize for Drama, a 2006 Lark Play Development/NYSCA grant and she has twice been a Finalist for the Princess Grace Award. Affiliations: She is a proud alumna of New Dramatists and a member of The Dramatist Guild Council.
Amy Berryman (she/her) is a writer and actor with roots in Washington State and West Texas. Current Role with WAM: playwright (The New Galileos) Playwriting: Amy’s play Walden recently premiered on the West End as a part of Sonia Friedman Productions’ RE:Emerge Season, directed by Ian Rickson, and received a production with Theaterworks Hartford directed by Mei Ann Teo (New York Times Critics Pick). Her other full-length plays include Three Year Summer, Epiphany, and The Whole of You. Her work has been developed at theatres all across the US and she has been a finalist for the O’Neill, NNPN’s National New Play Festival, and for Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries. Acting: Amy was seen off-Broadway in Jessica Dickey’s The Convent, directed by Daniel Talbott, as well as in Greg Kotis’ Lunchtime at the Brick, and Erin Courtney’s I Will Be Gone in the Humana Festival. Affiliations: Proud member of Rising Phoenix Rep. Upcoming: writer on the podcast VANTAGE with Gimlet and Composition 8. Connect: amy-berryman.com
MaConnia Chesser (she/her) Current Role with WAM: Dee (Cadillac Crew). Previous WAM Theatre: ROE, The Virgin Trial, The Flora & Fauna, The Revolutionists, Grand Concourse. Elsewhere: Shakespeare & Company, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Chester Theatre, Kennedy Center, NJ Rep, Theater Alliance, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Tennessee Shakespeare, York Shakespeare, African Continuum Theatre,Totem Pole Playhouse, & Folger Theatre. Film/TV: The Shape of Destiny (Official selection, 2018 Women in Comedy Festival), Ghosts of Hamilton Street, Diseasels. HBO’s The Wire. Training: Shakespeare & Company, National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, Alcorn State University. Awards: Helen Hayes nomination for Insurrection: Holding History with Theater Alliance. Et cetera: Company member at Shakespeare & Company and New Jersey Repertory Theatre.
Caryl Churchill (she/her) is one of the most influential and significant contemporary British dramatists working today Current Role with WAM Theatre: playwright (Escaped Alone). Plays: Owners (Royal Court Upstairs, London); Objections to Love and Violence (Royal Court); Light shining in Buckingshire (Joint Stock UK tour, Royal Court Upstairs); Vinegar Tom (Monstrous Regiment, UK tour); Traps (Royal Court Upstairs), Cloud Nine (Joint Stock UK tour, Royal Court); Three More Sleepless Nights (Soho Poly and Royal Court Upstairs); Top Girls (Royal Court); Fen (Joint Stock UK tour, Almeida Theatre); Soft Cops (RSC at the Pit); A Mouthful of Birds with David Lan (Joint Stock UK tour, Royal Court); Serious Money (Royal Court, Wyndham’s Theatre); Icecream (Royal Court); Mad Forest (Central School of Speech and Drama, Royal Court); Lives of the Great Poisoners with Orlando Gough and Ian Spink (Second Stride UK tour, Riverside Studios, London); The Striker (National Theatre, London); Thyestes translated from Seneca (Royal Court Upstairs); Hotel with Orlando Gough and Ian Spink (Second Stride UK tour, The Place, London); This is a Chair (London International Festival of Theatre at the Royal Court); Blue Heart (Joint Stock UK tour, Royal Court); Far Away (Royal Court Upstairs, The Albery Theatre, London); A Number (Royal Court); a new version of Strindberg’s A Dream Play (National Theatre); Drunk Enough To Say I Love You? (Royal Court); Seven Jewish Children (Royal Court); A Ring A Lamp A Thing an opera with Orlando Gough (Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House); Love and Information (Royal Court); Ding Dong The Wicked (Royal Court); Here We Go (National Theatre); and Escaped Alone (Royal Court Theatre).
Gina Kaufmann (she/her) is an Amherst, Massachusetts-based director and theater educator who revels in celebratory feminist work by and about women. Current Role at WAM: director (Bright Half Life). Directing Elsewhere: She has worked as a director and acting coach in numerous regional venues, including The Williamstown Theatre Festival, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Sacramento Theatre Company and Shakespeare & Company. In New York, she has directed for SoHo Rep, HOME for Contemporary Theatre and Art, Wings Theatre, and Dixon Place. Most recently, she directed The Beggar’s Opera Cabaret at Eastworks (her adaptation of The Beggar’s Opera for a three-woman cast) and Wild Thing for the 52nd Annual Siglo de Oro Festival in El Paso. For Silverthorne Theater, Gina directed Lauren Gunderson’s feminist comedy The Revolutionists in 2019 and Tanya Barfield’s Bright Half Life this past December. Affiliations: Gina is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), Professor of Theater at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and co-director of the MFA Directing Program. Connect: www.ginakaufmann.com
Tori Sampson (she/her) is a native of Boston, MA is proud to be from “The City of Champions” and even prouder to be a human rights activist and Black Woman storyteller. By introducing her daughter to the genius that was Carroll O’Connor, Tori’s mother opened her eyes to the art and power of comedy for “goodness sake”. And it was on and poppin’ from there. Today, Tori focuses her imagination on creating comedies for the stage. Current role at WAM Theatre: playwright (Cadillac Crew) Plays: If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must be a Muhfucka (Playwrights Horizons, 2019), This Land Was Made (Vineyard Theater 2018), Cadillac Crew (Premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre 2019) Some Bodies Travel (co-written with Jireh Breon Holder) and Where Butterflies go in the Winter. Her plays have been developed at Great Plains National Theater Conference, Berkeley Repertory Theater’s The Ground Floor residency program, Victory Garden’s IGNITION festival and UBUNTU theater. Awards: Tori is a 2017–18 Playwright’s Center Jerome Fellow and a 2018-19 Mcknight Fellow. Two of her plays appeared on the 2017 Kilroys List. Her awards and honors include the 2016 Relentless Award, Honorable Mention; the 2016 Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting from The Kennedy Center; the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, Second Place; the Alliance Theater’s 2017 Kendeda Prize, Finalist; the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Finalist. TV/Film: Tori was most recently staffed on Three Women for Showtime. Prior to that, she was in the room of the Amazon series Hunters and wrote an episode for the Amazon anthology Solos. She is currently developing a drama at Amazon with Anonymous Content and Drake producing, co-creating an adaptation of the novel The Secret Lives of Church Ladies for HBO Max, and previously wrote a comedy for HBO with Issa Rae producing. In addition, she is writing the Chris Paul biopic for Disney. Education: Tori holds a BS in sociology from Ball State University and an MFA in playwriting from Yale School of Drama. Connect: www.torisampson.com
Megan Sandberg-Zakian (she/her) is a theater director, author, and facilitator with a passion for the development of vital new American plays for the stage and the ear. Current Role with WAM: director (The New Galileos), Board Member. Previous WAM: Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England, Holy Laughter. Favorite recent directing projects elsewhere include: Nat Turner in Jerusalem (New York Theatre Workshop), House of Joy (California Shakespeare Theatre), Skeleton Crew (Huntington Theatre Co), Mr. Parent (The Lyric Stage) and Audible Originals Rapture Season and Evil Eye (Audie Award for Best Original Work; Gracie Award for Original Online Programming). Writing: Her book, There Must Be Happy Endings: On a Theater of Optimism and Honesty is available from The 3rd Thing Press. Affiliations: Megan is the co-founder of creative leadership consultancy Humanstudio, an Associate at BIPOC-led executive search firm ALJP Consulting, and a co-founder of Maia Directors, supporting artists and organizations engaging with stories from the Middle East and beyond. Education: Megan is a graduate of Brown University and holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. She has taught classes and workshops at Brown University, Yale University, Harvard University, and Northeastern University. Awards/Memberships: She is a recipient of the Princess Grace Theater Award and the TCG Future Leaders fellowship, an alumna of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and a proud member of SDC, the union for professional stage directors and choreographers. Etc: Megan lives in Jamaica Plain, MA, with her wife Candice. Connect: megansz.com
Kristen van Ginhoven (she/her) is a dual Canadian/American citizen based in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Current Role with WAM Theatre: Producing Artistic Director, director (Escaped Alone). Selected WAM Theatre Credits: ROE, Ann, The Bakelite Masterpiece, In Darfur (New England Premiere), Emilie (New England Premiere) Selected Theatre Credits Elsewhere: Ann (Arena Stage, Dallas Theatre Center), Disgraced, I and You (Chester Theatre), The Whale (Adirondack Theatre Festival), 10 Minute Play Festival (Barrington Stage Company) Selected Training: Dalhousie University (BA), Queen’s University (BEd), Emerson College (MA). Membership/Affiliations: Member of the Berkshire Race Task Force and Inclusive Leadership Cohort; Mentor with Berkshire Business and Professional Women; Member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers; Member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab; Participant in the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction at the Stratford Festival of Canada; Creative Inspiration: An artist, feminist and highly sensitive person, she values healthy practices like meditating and walking, time affluence and social connection. Awards/Proudest Achievement: Being honored by the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association (BTCA) with the prestigious Larry Murray Award, presented to a person or theatre project that advances social, political, or community issues in Berkshire County. Final Word: Talent is universal but opportunity is not. Here’s to creating opportunity.
WAM THEATRE SUPPORT
WAM Theatre is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, part of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, an initiative of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major funding from the federal CARES Act for the National Endowment for the Arts. Recently, WAM was recommended for an American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
WAM’s sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Blue Q., Berkshire Roots, Blue Spark Financial, Downright Pro, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Garden Gables Inn, Guidos Fresh Marketplace, Health Profesisonal Coaching, Heller & Robbins Attorneys at Law, Interprint, Only in my Dreams Events, Onyx Specialty Papers, Outpost Productions, Prix Fixe, RB Design Co., T Square Design Studio, Toole Insurance, a. von schlegell & co, and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.
WAM Theatre’s 2022 Season is also supported in part by grants from Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, The Feigenbaum Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), Mass Humanities, Lee Bank Foundation, Scarlet Sock Foundation and U.S. Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant; as well as grants from the Dalton Cultural Council, Lee Cultural Council, Lenox Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Northern Berkshire Cultural Council, Otis Cultural Council, Sandisfield Cultural Council, and Washington Cultural Council.
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 $80,000 to 23 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 500 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, detailed in their recently released accountability plan.
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