Online conversations with groundbreaking artists

LENOX, MA (June 2, 2022) — WAM Theatre is delighted to announce our brand new online Spotlight Series. The series invites audience members into conversations with groundbreaking theatre artists, where WAM patrons and the wider community will gain insight into their process and how their work intersects with activism. 

In the first installment (released on April 20, 2022)  WAM’s new Board Member Nicole M. Young-Martin (Community Investments Manager at the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts) initiates a conversation on season planning with members of WAM Theatre’s Artistic staff: Kristen van Ginhoven (Producing Artistic Director), Tatiana Godfrey (Dramaturg) and Talya Kingston (Associate Artistic Director).  Their frank conversation takes viewers inside the process of choosing WAM’s 2022 season as a group and with community input.

“For me, the most exciting artistic conversations happen in the planning stages of a production or season,” shared Associate Artistic Director Talya Kingston, “where decisions about venues, design, casting, etc. are made in conversation with collaborators.  At WAM, we spend a lot of time thinking about how our art best serves our community and responds to the times we’re living in.  The Spotlight Series is intended as a window into these moments and to allow our audiences into the conversation.”

The next installment in the Spotlight Series (released on April 26, 2022) is a conversation on art and climate change with The New Galileos playwright Amy Berryman in conversation with WAM Dramaturg Tatiana Godfrey.  The New Galileos,  the first play in WAM’s 2022 Fresh Takes Play Reading Series, was written while Amy Berryman was in residence at MIT and in conversation with climate scientists.  Its one of two plays (the other being Walden) that Berryman has set in a “near future.”  In this interview, she talks about how her imagined futures both “serve as a warning sign but also futures that contain some sort of hope and vision… are important in how we try to bring attention to this [climate] crisis.”

The third Spotlight installment (released on May 24th), is an interview with director and WAM board member Megan Sandberg-Zakian about directing The New Galileos, as well as her autobiography and general philosophy on storytelling articulated in her book, “There Must be Happy Endings: on a Theater of Optimism and Honesty.” In the interview, Megan talks about the ethics of making hopeful art in an unjust world and how she hopes to empower both the artists she works with and the audiences who attend her productions.

All three of these first three Spotlight videos are available now to watch for free on the WAM website.  Others that are coming up include: a conversation on casting controversies with Victor Vasquez (the founder and lead Casting Director of X Casting), a panel on women in theatrical designing (featuring some of the designers of our Fall production of Cadillac Crew) and a conversation on the importance of highlighting elder women on stage that will put Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven in conversation with some of her cast of Escaped Alone.

“As someone who is a huge fan of learning about what goes on behind the scenes and finding out about the people who make it all happen, I am thrilled WAM is presenting a series that spotlights our artists and their activism,” said Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven. “I hope you’ll join me in listening to each one.”

WAM Theatre’s 2022 Performance Season and additional Community Engagement Programming will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information visit wamtheatre.com

AT A GLANCE

WAM’s Spotlight Series is presented online free of charge.

New videos will be added every month, and the whole series can be viewed here:

https://www.wamtheatre.com/spotlight-series/

Donations to WAM Theatre’s Community Engagement programs welcome


BIOS

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

Tatiana Godfrey (she/her) is a dramaturg, improviser, educator, and actor who dabbles in medieval studies. WAM Theatre: ROE (Assistant Dramaturg), Kamloopa (Production Dramaturg), Flying Cloud/WAM workshop for 8-10 year olds (Teaching Artist).  Theatre Teaching: Instructor and Teaching Assistant for dramaturgy courses at the University of Massachusetts; five years teaching drama at the Cincinnati School for Creative & Performing Arts; improv and acting classes taught at Los Angeles’ Impro Theatre, Improv Cincinnati, Ohio State Thespian Conference, Georgia State Thespian conference, Teacher’s Assistant at the Atlantic Acting School. Community Engagement/Activist work: She works directly with the students of Operation Exodus, a faith based organization that provides education and family resources to the underserved community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.  Selected Dramaturgy Credits: No Dogs Allowed (Atlantic Theatre Company), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Cincinnati Shakespeare Company), The Revolutionists (Silverthorne Theater Company), Good Hair (Pipeline Theatre Company PlayLab). Selected Performance Credits: Phil Spector (HBO) and Outside (Rio Contrada), and as an Improvisational Comedian at: Improv Cincinnati, ComedySportz Cincinnati, Impro Theatre. Creative inspiration: Tatiana believes in being in the room and drawing her inspiration from those with her in the present moment. Training: Tatiana holds a BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and an MFA in dramaturgy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. www.tatianagodfrey.com

Talya Kingston (she/her) is a dramaturg, playwright and educator, who is inspired by the live interactions between artists and audiences and how these can be a catalyst for social change. She was a Visiting Professor of Theatre at Hampshire College.  She has also held the positions of Education Director at Hartford Stage and of Educational Programs Coordinator at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco. Talya is originally from Britain and returned for five recent summers to co-teach a University of Massachusetts course at the Edinburgh Festival. Talya’s writing on theatre has appeared in Theater Journal, Scene Magazine, The Moving Voice, European Stages, HowlRound, and the Valley Advocate. Talya curates WAM’s Fresh Takes Play Reading Series and has directed readings of Swallow, Paradise, Campus Unrest and The Thanksgiving Play. Her professional dramaturgy credits include: ROE and Lady Randy at WAM, the premiere of Eve Ensler’s Necessary Targets at Hartford Stage/Variety Arts Theatre, the US premiere of Helmet by Douglas Maxwell at the New York Fringe Festival, an immersive production of The Lonely Soldier Project by Helen Benedict, Seriously… What Did You Call Me? written and performed by Onawumni Jean Moss at the Ko Festival and Late Style, a stage adaptation of conversations between Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim featuring performances by members of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.  Talya is a member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, the Dramatists Guild and the Northampton Playwrights Lab, and holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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 leader, director,  educator, change-maker and social entrepreneur who works at the intersection of arts and activism. A dual Canadian/American citizen, Kristen is based in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, where she regularly enjoys the many outdoor and cultural wonders. As WAM’s Producing Artistic Director, her selected directing credits include Ann (Co-pro with Dorset Theatre Festival), The Bakelite Masterpiece (with Berkshire Theatre Group), In Darfur (New England Premiere) and Emilie (New England Premiere). Kristen has also directed Ann at Arena Stage and Dallas Theatre Center, Disgraced and I and You at Chester Theatre, The Whale at Adirondack Theatre Festival, and the 10 Minute Play Festival at Barrington Stage Company as been an assistant director at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada and the Huntington Theatre in Boston. Kristen trained at Dalhousie University (BA), Queen’s University (BEd) and Emerson College (MA). She is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, a theatre artist for the International Schools Theatre Association which has provided the opportunity to travel around the world and a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. Growing WAM Theatre and being honored by the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association with the prestigious Larry Murray Award, presented to a person or theatre project that advances social, political, or community issues in Berkshire County are two of Kristen’s proudest achievements. An artist, feminist and highly sensitive person, she values healthy  practices like meditating and walking, time affluence and social connection. Her guiding quote is “I may be one person, but I can be one person who makes a difference.” 

Nicole M. Young-Martin (she/her) is a writer, performer, producer, musician, nonprofit manager and educator with over 25 years of experience as a practicing artist and over 10 years of working in higher education and the nonprofit sector. Nicole’s time on the WAM Board of Directors began earlier this year. Having attended WAM productions in the past, Nicole is very excited to take on this new role with the WAMily. Nicole serves as the producer and host of the web series, Black Writers Read, teaches literature, developmental writing, and theatre for Bard Microcollege Holyoke, and works as the Community Investments Manager for the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.  She has received artist grants from various organizations including the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts & Assets4Artists, Easthampton City Arts, and Northampton Open Media. Nicole is a second-year doctoral student in Higher Education Leadership and Organizational Studies at Bay Path University and has a Bachelor of Theatre Arts from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, an MFA in Theatre Management from Wayne State University, and an MA in English from University of Massachusetts Amherst.  To learn more about Nicole, please visit www.nicolemyoung.com.

WAM COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT


WAM Theatre empowers community through art.  Community engagement is a central part of our activist mission. Each season, in accord with our main stage productions, we present invigorating conversations, workshops, professional development and devising ensembles that are responsive to the needs of the community and the time in which we are living.

WAM 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 Professional 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

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