LENOX, MA (July 25, 2022) — WAM Theatre concludes their 2022 Fresh Takes Play Reading Season with Escaped Alone, written by one of the most prolific living playwrights, Caryl Churchill (Top Girls, Cloud 9, Far Away). The play is directed by WAM’s Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven and will be presented live (and live-streamed) on Sunday, August 7, at 2pm at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home in Lenox. Tickets are on sale now.  

“While written before this pandemic, Escaped Alone provides a resonant opportunity to use humor and absurdity to look at what’s going on in our world. If we can’t laugh at all we are facing in our inner and outer worlds, then what do we have?” explains director Kristen van Ginhoven. “I am excited to explore how one of our most esteemed contemporary female playwrights defies convention to explore how we navigate catastrophe.”

Back by popular demand, 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.

The play presents conversation between four women around the same age as the then-77 year old Caryl Churchill.  Helmed by van Ginhoven, the WAM reading will feature an ensemble of celebrated regional actors: Mrs. J is played by Candace Barrett-Birk (Guthrie Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet, To Kill A Mockingbird, Chester Theatre’s recent Tiny Beautiful Things), who is making her WAM debut;  Joan Coombs (Emilie, Tartuffe, Tale of the Allergist’s Wife) returns to the WAM Stage to play Vi; Lena is played by Eileen Schuyler (4000 Miles, Blithe Spirit), seen at WAM as Alyssa in The Old Mezzo, and the role of Sally is played by another local actor making her WAM debut, TAMIR (Solo performer of Now and In the Land of Israel, and the title role of Medea).

Candace Barrett-Birk, who is playing the role of Mrs. J, stated that she is: “drawn particularly to this scaffolding of a play because it speaks with such grace, ease, humor and urgency about so many things that are important right now… It is about the importance of community.” Barrett-Birk, who has previously directed this play goes on to explain that: “Mostly, it is about the power of story-telling—and story-listening.  It presents the very real notion that our conversations—our stories—affect not only us and the people around us, but also the future of the world.”

WAM is excited to be once again collaborating with, and performing at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home in Lenox, where WAM has previously presented events with their Intergenerational Ensemble. 

WAM Theatre’s Fresh Takes Play Reading Series presents ground-breaking stories that are imaginative and thoughtful explorations of complex issues affecting women and girls. Featuring local professional actors and directors, the Fresh Takes play readings continue WAM’s commitment to connecting Berkshire audiences to female playwrights who are contributing to national and international theatre conversations. Each reading will be followed by a brief discussion with the artists.

Tickets are now on sale for Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill, directed by Kristen van Ginhoven at The Mount on August 7.  For more information or to reserve your tickets today, visit WAM online at wamtheatre.com or call 413.274.8122.

For more information about the 2022 Season and ways you can participate with WAM Theatre, please visit wamtheatre.com.

At-a-Glance

Escaped Alone

A Fresh Takes Play Reading

by Caryl Churchill

Directed by Kristen van Ginhoven

Featuring 

Candace Barrett Birk as Mrs. J

Joan Coombs as Vi

Eileen Schuyler as Lena

TAMIR as Sally

Sunday, August 7th at 2pm

The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home, 2 Plunkett Street, Lenox, MA 01240 (& live streamed)

Tickets $15, $25

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

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.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

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).

ABOUT THE CAST

Candace Barrett Birk (she/her) is a celebrated regional theatre actor and health coach based in Florence, Massachusetts. Current Role with WAM: Mrs J (Escaped Alone). Selected Theatre Credits: Tiny Beautiful Things (Chester Theater Company), Romeo and Juliet, Harvey, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Primrose Path (Guthrie Theater), Majorie Prime, Little Wars (Prime Productions), The Gin Game (Sidekick Theatre), Crime and Punishment (Live Action Set), Outside Mullingar (Old Log Theatre), Our Class (Minnesota Jewish Theatre), Traces (Open Eye Figure Theater), Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Enchanted April (Theatre in the Round Players), Various Versions (Hippocrates Cafe), Peer Gynt, Equus, Street Scene (American Conservatory Theater), Mystery Plays, Cherry Orchard, Scenes from American Life (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Importance of Being Earnest (Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts), Arsenic and Old Lace, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Under Milkwood, Imaginary Invalid (Oregon Shakespeare Festival). Education: Candace is a graduate of Northwestern University (Education and Theater) and holds a graduate certificate from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing in Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices with a focus on Health Coaching. Affiliations: Actors Equity Association, SD&C, SAG-AFRA. Connect: http://www.candacebirkcoaching.com

TAMIR (she/her) relishes the enormous talent of the Berkshires, especially being a part of “Berkshire Voices,” a playwriting group affiliated with Great Barrington Public Theater. Current roles with WAM: Sally in Escaped Alone. WAM Theatre: debut. Selected Theatre Credits Elsewhere: Now, a one woman show written and performed by TAMIR (Pauline Productions), Master Class as Maria Callas (Pacific Repertory), House of Bernarda Alba as Bernarda Alba (Loewe Theatre NYC), Medea as Medea (Luna Stage, NJ), Conference of the Birds (London, UK), Measure for Measure (Hebrew University Jerusalem), Vilna’s Got a Golem (Annenberg Theatre Philadelphia), My Ancestors’ House(Theatre for the New City NYC), In the Land of Israel, a one woman show (La MaMa U.S. & Canada tour), Dybbuk, Leah (Meyer Auditorium S.F.). TV: Fleishman’s in Trouble – co-star (HULU), Jessica Jones (NETFLIX), Ramy (HULU), Law and Order (NBC), Film: Tarab – supporting (Big Apple Film Festival). Narration: Twenty-five books (McGraw Hill, NorthStar Publishing, Jewish Braille Institute). Industrials: Bausch & Lamb, UBS, Paine-Webber, Radio: NPR/WNYC announcer, KQED. Creative Inspiration: Training and loving German Shepherds; teaching Iyengar yoga; Meditation; planting, watering and kissing flowers. Writing, writing. Membership Affiliations: AEA, SAG-AFTRA, Dramatists’ Guild. Selected Training: Shakespeare & Co, Wynn Handman, Rubin Academy of Music and Dance, Israel, Martha Graham company class. Awards/proudest achievements: Winner Pinnacle Diamond Best Supporting Actress/Tarab. Winner Barrymore best Ensemble/Vilna’s Got a Golem. BERKIE nomination outstanding solo performance/Now. Final Word: Being a vegan for 54 years, I imagine a herd of cattle, a flock of sheep, a school of fish, a rafter of turkeys, a peep of chickens and a drift of pigs that can now live in peace. Connect: http://www.actresstamir.com

Eileen Schuyler (she/her) is an actor, director, and theater teacher based in New York’s capital region. WAM Theatre: Eileen is delighted to return to WAM Theatre to reprise the role of Lena in Escaped Alone. Previous WAM Theatre: Alyssa in The Old Mezzo. Selected Theatre Credits Elsewhere: Eileen has performed frequently at Capital Repertory Theatre in 4000 Miles, 33 Variations and Blithe Spirit among others; Studio Arena Theater (Greetings, Lake Effect); Fulton Opera House (Sherlock’s Secret Life); Theatre Company at Hubbard Hall (Heartbreak House); eight seasons with Stageworks/Hudson (Play by Play, A Wedding Story); Proctors Theatre; Queens Theater in the Park, Soho Rep and 25 shows with NYSTI, where she was a founding member.  Teaching/Directing: Eileen directed Our Town, The Diary of Anne Frank and The Laramie Project at Theatre Institute at Sage, where she also teaches acting. Previous teaching experience includes almost a decade at UAlbany, and as a Communications Coach for Public Defenders at the NYS Defenders Institute. Additional Artistic Credits: Artistic Director of Theater Voices, now in its 33rd season, Eileen has frequently performed and directed for the company. She wrote and directed original adaptations of Spoon River Anthology at Siena College and A BINTEL BRIEF: Letters from the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward at the Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, and the Arts Center for the Capital Region. Selected Training: Eileen received her BA from Suffolk University, and her MA at SUNY Empire State College, as well as additional training at Shakespeare & Company, HB Studios and the School for Film & Television. Awards/Memberships: An AUDIE winner, she’s a proud member of AEA and SAG/AFTRA.

Joan Coombs (she/her) is a Berkshire based actor with a long career history in Planned Parenthood and reproductive health and rights. Current role with WAM Theatre: Vi in Escaped Alone. WAM Theatre: Escaped Alone (first reading), Emilie (New England Premiere and reprise) Selected Theatre Credits Elsewhere: Pride and Prejudice (Dorset Theatre Festival), Tartuffe, Tale of the Allergist’s Wife (Shakespeare and Company), All My Sons (Hubbard Hall), Don’t Talk to the Actors, Moon Over Buffalo, The Hollow (The Theater Barn), Death of a Salesman (Curtain Call Theatre). Film: Like Lambs, Narration: Thousand Years to Wait, Kingdom of Hamelot. Creative inspiration: In her other work as a nonprofit consultant, she is inspired by her clients’ missions, and experiences their work and service as stories every bit as compelling as the stories we tell on stage. Membership/Affiliations: Actors Equity Association. Selected training: Shakespeare & Co, Michael Chekhov School. Proudest achievement: Radically reinvented herself three times, and at 60 – as an actor.

ABOUT THE MOUNT:

The Mount is a turn-of-the-century home, designed and built by Edith Wharton in 1902. A National Historic Landmark, today The Mount is a cultural center that celebrates the intellectual, artistic and humanitarian legacy of Edith Wharton.

WAM Current Sponsors

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 http://www.wamtheatre.com

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