Presented live in the Berkshires October 13-29, 2022
Presented Online October 27-29, 2022

LENOX, MA (September 15, 2022) — WAM Theatre is thrilled to present Cadillac Crew by Tori Sampson (If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must be a Muhfucka, Playwrights Horizons; This Land Was Made), directed by taneisha duggan (Jesus Hopped the “A” Train, University of Hartford; Blue Door, Juilliard), featuring returning WAM actors Cate Alston, MaConnia Chesser,  and Alicia M.P. Nelson; and debuting Kyra Davis on the WAM stage.  Live performances will be presented at Shakespeare & Company’s Tina Packer Playhouse in Lenox, MA, from October 13-29. An online version of the production will also be available in the final weekend. Tickets are on sale now.

The play opens with four female activists working in a Virgina 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?

Cadillac Crew provides the perfect centerpiece for our 2022 Season,” states Associate Artistic Director Talya Kingston. “All season we have gathered amazing ensembles of artists around stories of women stepping out of narratives that have been set for them and into their own power.  This dynamic play explodes the existing historical narratives about who led the Civil Rights Movement and propels us into questioning how far we are willing to go in our own activism.”

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.”

“Our production of Cadillac Crew looks to the women of the past, present, and future,” said Director taneisha duggan.  “We honor the groundwork laid and lift up the collective power of the femme-indentifying body. The idea of a ‘Cadillac Crew as a thoughtful multiracial cohort of women with the purpose of having living room conversations with other women around the country is inspiring to me. It made the term ‘mobilize’ literal. I wonder what the country would look like if there were more living room chats about the things that ail us?”

Director taneisha duggan has produced NY Times Critic picks WALDEN by Amy Berryman and RUSSIAN TROLL FARM by Sarah Gancher; and directed at Juilliard (Blue Door, Jesus Hopped the “A” Train) and TheaterWorks Hartford (Actually).  The cast features  returning WAM actors Cate Alston (WAM’s ROE) as Abby, MaConnia Chesser (WAM’s ROE, The Virgin Trial; Ancram Opera House & Shakespeare & Company An Iliad) as Dee, and Alicia M.P. Nelson (WAM’s The Last Wife and The Virgin Trial) as Sarah. They are joined by WAM newcomer Kyra Davis (Jitney, Nashville Shakespeare; Intimate Apparel, University of Alabama) as Rachel.

A robust team of creatives is working behind the scenes of Cadillac Crew, including many returning artists to WAM, led by Stage Manager Hope Rose Kelly, who has worked extensively with WAM Theatre and Shakespeare & Company, assisted by Rose Biggerstaff a regular at Capital Repertory Theatre making her WAM debut.  Sets are designed by WAM’s Production Manager, Juliana von Haubrich, who has also designed regionally for WAM, Shakespeare & Company, and Chester Theatre Company. Returning WAM artist Calypso Michelet is the Costume Designer, while WAM newcomer Ericka N. Hanger brings her film-experience to WAM as the Hair and Make-up Designer, and ym is the Sound Designer. Samuel J. Biondolillo is the Lighting & Projection Designer, assisted by Kelly Daigneault, and Master Electrician Lydia Jung. Hannah Trobaugh is the Technical Director and Properties Master, and Kathleen H. Soltan is the Backstage Hand. 

“WAM could not be more excited to have gathered this incredible cast and creative team to bring Tori Sampson’s extraordinary play to life ” exclaimed WAM Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven. ”We continue to be thrilled witnessing the imaginative work the creative team is putting into this production. Audiences are in for a treat!” 

For tickets to the live performance or digital performance of Cadilliac Crew please call (413) 637-3353 or visit WAM online hereWAM is proud to offer equitable seating for all, and encourages patrons to select the ticket price that best fits their needs. Tickets range from $25-$100 for live performances, and $15-$75 for digital performances. WAM invites audience members to choose from one of the suggested price levels, while keeping in mind that the higher ticket price you are able to select, the more we will be able to donate to our recipients (who will be named later this month).  WAM Theatre also offers group tickets (for groups of ten or more) and $5 for EBT card holders. 

In order to better facilitate parents and guardians to attend WAM Theatre’s Fall production of Cadillac Crew, we are offering two options for free child care.  On-site care will be available for children ages 5-12 at onsite at Shakespeare & Company during the matinee performance on Sunday October 23.  For younger children, WAM is offering a limited number of home babysitting care subsidies for any Cadillac Crew Performance.  More information about Child Care and an application form can be found here.

“In line with WAM’s mission, we are thrilled to offer child care for parents and caregivers,” said Managing Director Molly Merrihew.  “As a new parent, I know so well the juggling act of making time for ourselves and our children. This year, WAM  is excited to remove another barrier to our audiences— childcare costs, as well as the time it takes to organize care. WAM continues to strive to make our performances accessible to all, and accessible child care is part of that work. We are grateful to partner with Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation to make it possible.” 

WAM is proud to be partnering with Women’s Fund as Western Massachusetts as the lead sponsor of Cadillac Crew in honor of their 25-Anniversary.  Together we help fuel progress toward gender equity in Massachusetts and elevate the collective power of women and girls here in the Berkshires and beyond.

“We are thrilled to celebrate our 25th anniversary with WAM Theatre,” said Donna Haghighat, Women’s Fund Chief Executive Officer. “As a public foundation that is 25 years Bold, we wanted to organize a special event that honors our past and looks toward the future of gender and racial equity. WAM Theatre’s production of the Cadillac Crew accomplishes all of those goals.” 

WAM Theatre is offering a host of free Community Engagement activities in connection to Cadillac Crew.  These include: a downloadable study guide to the production for students; three videos with WAM’s creative team; and stories of Black and Indigenous Civil Rights from Local Community Leaders (see full list at wamtheate.com/engage).  In addition to these, we are offering an online course on the Black Theatre Aesthetic with WAM Teaching Artist Tatiana Godfrey, and a free conversation series in the lead up to Cadillac Crew with scholars, storytellers, and community activists in libraries throughout Berkshire County during Banned Books week (Sept 18-24).  More information about WAM’s Community Engagement programming can be found here.

For more information about the 2022 Season and WAM Theatre’s programs, events, and artists, please visit wamtheatreTheatre.com.

At-a-Glance

CADILLAC CREW

By Tori Sampson

Directed by taneisha duggan

Tina Packer Playhouse, Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA

Featuring:

Cate Alston as Abby

MaConnia Chesser as Dee

Kyra Davis as Rachel

Alicia M.P. Nelson as Sarah

Samuel J. Biondelillo, Lighting & Projection Design

Ericka N. Hanger, Hair & Make Up Design

Natasha Hawkins, Dramaturg

Hope Rose Kelly, Stage Management

Juliana von Haubrich, Scenic Design

Calypso Michelet, Costume Design

ym, Sound Design & Composer

Presented live at Shakespeare & Company’s Tina Packer Playhouse  in Lenox, MA

October 13-29, 2022

Tickets $15-$100

For tickets call (413) 637-3353 or visit WAM online at https://www.wamtheatre.com/showsandevents/cadillac-crew/

Performance Schedule

Thurs., Oct. 13 at 7pm –  Preview (live)

Fri., Oct. 14 at 7pm – Preview (live)

Sat., Oct. 15 at 7pm – Preview (live)

Sun., Oct. 16 at 2:30pm – OPENING (live)

Thurs. Oct. 20 at 2:30pm (live)

Fri., Oct. 21 at 7pm (live)

Sat., Oct. 22 at 7pm (live)

Sun., Oct. 23 at 2:30pm –  Child Care Performance

Thurs., Oct. 27 at 10am (live & online)

Fri., Oct 28 at 7pm (live & online)

Sat., Oct. 29 at 2:30pm (live & online)

Sat., Oct. 29 at 7pm–CLOSING (live & online) 

The performance runs approximately 2 hours with one intermission.

For more information about Cadillac Crew  and the artists, please visit https://www.wamtheatre.com/showsandevents/cadillac-crew/

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

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

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

taneisha duggan (she/her) is a director and producer working at the nexus of live art and public gathering. WAM Theatre: Debut. Selected Theatre Credits Elsewhere: Jesus Hopped the “A” Train (University of Hartford), Blue Door (Juilliard), Actually (TheaterWorks Hartford), Hooded: or Being Black for Dummies (Juilliard), workshop readings (INK’D Festival at Playwright’s Realm, newWORKS TheaterWorks Hartford). Selected Producing credits: NYTimes Critic picks WALDEN by Amy Berryman and RUSSIAN TROLL FARM by Sarah Gancher; PROXIMITY by Harrison David Rivers (commission) Selected Training: SUNY-Purchase College School of Theater Arts and Film (BFA). Creative Inspiration: As a storyteller, she is propelled by the belief that the culture we present is the society we become. Awards/Proudest Achievement: She is a 2016 National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellow and mama of two boys Final Word: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” -Maya Angelou. Connect: taneishaduggan.work, IG @livingenough

ABOUT THE CAST

Cate Alston (she/her) is an NYC-based actress and costumer, who recently graduated from the University at Albany where she earned a B.A in Theatre and Psychology. Cate’s work centers on navigating the relationship between people, unpacking, repacking, and sharing experiences accumulated from life. Current Role with WAM: Abby. Selected WAM Theatre Credits: Roxy (ROE). Selected Theatre Credits Elsewhere: Angelo (Measure for Measure – Worcester Shakespeare Company), Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream – UAlbany), Esther Mills (Intimate Apparel – UAlbany). Additional Artistic Credits: Kinky Boots (Bucks County Playhouse – Associate Costume Designer), The Thanksgiving Play (WAM Theatre – Costume Coordinator), Future Thinking (UAlbany – Costume Designer). Selected Training: UAlbany, The Neighborhood Playhouse. Final Word: With this transient lifetime, I choose to live with empathy and build strong connections. Connect: www.catealston.com // instagram: @alston.cate

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.

Kyra Davis (she/her) is a dedicated, determined, and driven artist from the south. She traded in southern hospitality to take on the city that never sleeps to further her career in acting and creating. She is grateful and honored to tell the story of Rachel in her first production at WAM Theatre. Selected Credits: Jitney (Rena), Intimate Apparel (Esther), and The Christians (Elizabeth). Final Word: Her inspiration are the Black women who came before her and those who are coming after her. She’s grateful to God, family and everyone who supports her.

Alicia M. P. Nelson (she/her)  is an award-winning San Francisco/Bay Area based actor, clown and arts educator. Current role with WAM: Sarah, CADILLAC CREW WAM Theatre:  Bess in The Last Wife and The Virgin Trial Selected Theatre Credits Elsewhere: Back to the Way Things Were (San Francisco Mime Troupe), Georgiana & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley (World Premiere, Marin Theatre Company), Dance Nation (SF Playhouse), FROST/NIXON (TheatreWorks Silicon Valley), The How and the Why (Dragon Productions), Silent Sky (Ross Valley Players). Community Engagement/Activist work: Alicia is a member of the Red Ladder Theatre Company where she works to bring arts to at-risk populations. Membership/Affiliations: Proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association. Selected training: BFA in Acting from Boston University. Awards/proudest achievements: Outstanding Performance of a Featured Role in a Musical – Theatre Bay Area 2017 Final word: Much love and gratitude to SCB. Connect: www.ampnelson.com

ABOUT WOMEN’S FUND OF WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS 

Located in Springfield, MA,  the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts fuels progress toward gender equity by funding the most promising solutions, collaborating with results-oriented partners, and by elevating the collective power of local women to take charge, and to lead with purpose. To learn more, visit mywomensfund.org

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,  Bradson Education & Library 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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