LENOX, MA (February 8, 2022) – By popular demand, WAM Theatre is thrilled to announce the return of its acclaimed Elder and Teen Ensembles. This Spring, WAM invites Berkshire-based women over 65 and teens ages 13-18 to join the company on a journey of empowerment through creativity, teamwork, and devised theatre. WAM’s Elder Ensemble launched with a Meet & Greet in December; WAM is currently accepting applications for its 2023 Teen Ensemble now through March 10.
“This year, WAM Theatre wishes to echo the ongoing work of femme-identitied, non-binary and trans activists, artists and community organizers far and wide, who labor together to safeguard their agency and to reclaim the stories of their bodies,” stated WAM Theatre’s Director of Community Engagement Kaia Jackson who will facilitate the ensembles. “In this time of social and political upheaval, we believe that it is as important as ever to ask ourselves what we, as individuals and communities, need to get free, and to grieve, demand, affirm and celebrate together.”
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to co-create a container where local artists and storytellers can explore places of resonance and imagine new possibilities through ensemble-based devised theatre,” Jackson shared. “In this age of technology, theatre offers us a potent invitation to embody ourselves and our stories, and to explore how they speak to one another in real time.”
Both ensembles will meet at WAM Theatre’s brand new Creative Hub in downtown Lenox. The Elder Ensemble will meet weekly in March through April, and the Teen Ensemble will be held over the school Spring Break, April 18-21, 2023. Participants will be taught the practice of devised theatre, a collaborative process where an ensemble uses a variety of techniques—including writing, improvisation, games, movement, brainstorming, and more—to create original theatre. Both ensembles will create original work on the theme of bodily sovereignty– an orientation, affirmation and practice of agency and freedom in relation to one’s own body and the stories it chooses to tell.
Led by WAM Teaching Artists, the Elder Ensemble is a multi-week series for senior artists to bring their various talents, depths of vision and lifelong narratives together into conversation with one another. This year’s Elder Ensemble launched with a Meet & Greet in December that invited prospective participants, some returning and some new, to share their hopes, dreams and visions for the experience. Through ensemble games, theatre explorations and creative writing, they plan to identify stories that they will collaboratively curate alongside Teaching Artists into short pieces and vignettes for performance.
Elder Ensemble Member Nancy Tunnicliffe explained the importance of WAM’s Elder Ensemble during the Covid pandemic saying it: “gave me the means to access the most alive part of my being, my creative self. It was an opportunity to thumb my proverbial nose at the anxiety and fear we were all feeling, and build a shared community of hope and strength.”
2022 Teen Ensemble Member Anthea Kaplan echoed this sentiment saying: “I learned a lot about collaborative creation. Bouncing ideas off of each other, supporting others’ ideas, and building ideas off of each other.” She went on to explain that: “what I remember most about Teen Ensemble is the community feeling. There isn’t any particular moment, but just a lingering comfort of being supported and affirmed by others along with supporting and affirming others.”
The Teen Ensemble is a paid theatre workshop for young people aged 13-18 to create together during the April School break. Since 2018, WAM has paid Teen Ensemble Members a stipend for their participation to help offset participation costs. WAM believes this contributes to a more diverse group of young artists from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. The Teen Ensemble promotes teamwork, self-confidence, and creativity. Parents, counselors, teachers, and community leaders are encouraged to nominate students who would thrive in a collaborative creative environment. WAM is accepting applications now through March 10. Interested students can apply online at: www.wamtheatre.com/engage/teen-ensemble/.
Former experience in theatre is not necessary participation in WAM Theatre’s Ensembles. The only criteria for participation is enthusiasm and the creative impulse to voice their feelings and/or ideas through artistic expression.
Questions about either ensembles and nominations for Teen Ensemble can be sent to WAM Teaching Artist and Director of Community Engagement, Kaia Jackson at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
At A Glance
WAM Elder Ensemble
Devised Theatre and Creative Collaboration for Women over 65 years
Led by WAM Teaching Artists Kaia Jackson and Co-facilitator TBC
March 14 – April 25, 2023
At The WAM Theatre Creative Hub, 55 Main Street, Lenox, MA
WAM Teen Ensemble
A paid theatre workshop for young people aged 13-18
Led by WAM Teaching Artists Kaia Jackson and Maizy Scarpa.
April 18-21, 2023
at The WAM Theatre Hub, 55 Main Street, Lenox, MA
Apply online at: https://forms.gle/CWaqrwuKMavzAwpe9.
Application deadline: March 10, 2023
More about WAM’s Community Engagement Director
Kaia Jackson (they/them) is a healing-centered creator, space holder and story weaver who is energized and humbled by the capacity of every story to change the shape of what we know to be true. As a Teaching Artist with WAM Theatre, they are thrilled to center youth voices through theatre and expressive arts. Prior to joining WAM Theatre as the Director of Community Engagement, Kaia served as a youth counselor, healing arts facilitator and community educator in a wide variety of non-profit and community-based settings. Kaia draws upon years of experience working directly with children, young adults and families navigating lived experiences of trauma, disability, and marginalization. They are committed to learning how to center and hold space for healing of historically silenced experiences in intergenerational community spaces. Kaia also previously developed and facilitated workshops on disability justice/inclusion, community care and trauma-informed practices. They also happen to have an extensive puppet collection that is just waiting for the right moment to emerge, and never fails to have something to say. Kaia received a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Hampshire College, an MDiv from Earlham School of Religion, and a certificate from Prison Yoga Project. They are over the moon to join the incredible community of artists, activists, audience members and staff at WAM Theatre! Connect: email@example.com.
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 2022/2023 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, Mill Town Foundation, Inc., 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 $85,000 to 25 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