The Fresh Takes Play Pass is now on sale
LENOX, MA (April 11, 2023) – Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven and the WAM Theatre team today announced an exciting 2023 Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. The series includes three new plays to be performed on three consecutive Sundays in July at The Mount in Lenox. The Fresh Takes Reading Series includes three groundbreaking stories: hollow roots by Christina Anderson, Port of Entry by Talya Kingston, and In Her Bones by Jessica Kahkoska.
The 2023 Fresh Takes Play Reading Series presents new works by women that, in different ways, explore complex and intersection identities that make up contemporary America. The identities that people project onto us, the ones that are handed down to us, and the ones we decide ourselves. Each play stands on its own, but taken together, they weave an interesting tapestry and will evoke exciting post-performance conversations.
“WAM is delighted to present these dynamic new plays in a series and to collaborate with our friends at The Mount again this summer in another partnership that is mission-aligned,” said Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven.
The Mount’s Executive Director, Susan Wissler shared, “Early in her career, Edith Wharton used playwriting to subvert stereotypes, and she made, at times, what are still considered unexpected endings. We are delighted to host WAM and this series of new writing by women with distinct perspectives on the contemporary American landscape.”
The season begins with a staged reading of hollow roots by Christina Anderson, directed by Trenda Loftin, who also works as WAM’s BIPOC Staff Advocate, on Sunday, July 16, 2pm. Performed with live musical accompaniment, this dynamic and poetic solo play questions the notion of a “post-racial” society by looking at one woman’s quest to understand her identity. The protagonist challenges herself to find a person of color who has a “neutral” identity.
“One person storytelling invites a level of intimacy that excites me,” said Loftin. “It invites not only a witnessing of the vulnerability of the character/performer on stage but also, I believe, invites us as viewers into a deeper vulnerability with ourselves. We only have their experience and our own to be with. I love that!” hollow roots premiered at the Public Theater in New York and Christina Anderson been described by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel as, “one of our most significant and prescient writers.” Vogel states that “Christina Anderson’s plays grab me by the throat, wound my memory, and change the way I walk through the world.”
Next in the series is Port of Entry, a new work written by WAM’s Associate Artistic Director, Talya Kingston, directed by Amy Brentano, on Sunday, July 23, 2pm. The play opens in the back office of a small New England airport, where TSA agent Hank is training newbie Chloe on the day a new law–commonly known as “The Muslim Ban”–is suddenly enacted. When Jana arrives on a flight from the Middle East, they all become entangled in the chaotic fallout from this new government mandate. In a rapidly shifting political landscape, this new play questions who is protecting our country and who are they protecting it from?
Playwright Talya Kingston shared that “Port of Entry is an invitation for American citizens to see inside the back offices of the immigration system. The officials work in a combination of mundane bureaucracy and subjective opinion that place immigrants at the whim of political policy.” Director Amy Brentano explained that: “the play is honest and humorous at times, and it’s direct approach to prevalent complex issues is a welcomed challenge. Theater should leave us with questions.”
The final play in the series is Jessica Kahkoska’s In Her Bones, directed by Estefanía Fadul (WAM’s Kamloopa), happening on Sunday, July 30, 2pm. The story starts with an unexpected blizzard that forces Berkeley freshman Mia into a rural highway gas station in Colorado, where she must confront a past she is both fleeing and seeking out. In Her Bones explores the complicated legacy of crypto-Judaism in the Southwest, illuminating an unlikely alpine tale of faith and family secrets, and how we pass on culture when written records are too dangerous to keep.
“In Her Bones is a love letter to my roots in rural Colorado that explores how place, history, and memory weave together to inform who we are–and how we make sense of the most disparate pieces of our identities and family pasts,” said Playwright Jessica Kahkoska. The play (a hit of the 2020 Colorado New Play Summit) will be directed by Kahkoska’s longtime collaborator and WAM favorite, Estefanía Fadul.
WAM Theatre’s 9th Annual Fresh Takes Reading Series continues its commitment to present 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 women-identifying playwrights who are contributing to national and international theatre conversations. Each reading will be followed by a brief discussion with the artists.
“WAM is grateful to each of these three directors for being part of our 2023 Fresh Takes series,” continued van Ginhoven. “Amy has been part of Port of Entry since its beginning and joins Trenda and Estefania as artists whom we are always delighted to have in our season. We are also thrilled to be sharing a play written by our very own Associate Artistic Director, Talya Kingston, plus stories by two other playwrights whose work we admire. These three plays are perfect for the intimate and stripped-back vibe of a play reading. We can’t wait to be absorbed into these complex stories.”
TICKETS & FRESH TAKES PLAY PASS
The WAM’s Fresh Takes Play Pass is now on sale. Join WAM in-person for a season of new groundbreaking readings. Seating is limited at all Fresh Takes readings and expected to sell-out, so your purchase of a Fresh Takes Play Pass will guarantee your seat at the whole series!
Each Pass includes one ticket each to all 2023 Readings, happening at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home, Lenox, MA. Casting will be announced in the coming months, and single tickets go on sale May 15, so be sure to purchase your pass now!
For tickets and more information about WAM Theatre’s 2023 Season, programs, events, and artists, please visit wamtheatre.com.
WAM THEATRE 2023 FRESH TAKES SEASON
by Christina Anderson
directed by Trenda Loftin
Sunday, July 16, 2pm at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home, Lenox, MA
Single Tickets $25, Pay It Forward Ticket $50
Port of Entry
by Talya Kingston
directed by Amy Brentano
Sunday, July 23, 2pm at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home, Lenox, MA
Single Tickets $25, Pay It Forward Ticket $50
In Her Bones
by Jessica Kahkoska
directed by Estefanía Fadul
Sunday, July 30, 2pm at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home, Lenox, MA
Single Tickets $25, Pay It Forward Ticket $50
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Christina Anderson (she/her) is a 2022 Tony Award Nominee for Outstanding Book of the Broadway musical Paradise Square. She is a playwright, tv writer, screenwriter, educator, and creative. WAM Theatre: playwright, hollow roots. Selected Credits Elsewhere: Her work has been produced by theaters such as the Goodman Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Kansas City Rep, Geva Theatre, and Yale Rep. Awards and honors include: 2022 Horton Foote Prize, 2022 Arthur Miller Legacy Award, 2021 Prince Prize, 2020 United States Artists Fellow, MacDowell Fellowship, Lily Awards Harper Lee Prize, Herb Alpert Award nomination, Barrymore Nomination, and New Dramatists Residency. TV/Film: She was a staff writer on Edie Falco’s CBS tv drama Tommy. Teaching: She taught playwriting at the David Geffen School of Drama, Wesleyan University, Rutgers University, SUNY Purchase College, and served as the interim Head of Playwriting at Brown University. Additional Creative Work: An avid photographer for nearly ten years, the Magnum award review described Christina’s work as “compelling” and “poignant.” Since 2019, she has produced hip hop instrumentals under the moniker Purely Magenta. Contact: christinaandersonwriter.com.
Amy Brentano (she/her) is a Berkshire resident and theater artist with a background in physical theater, devising and education. Current role with WAM: director Port of Entry. WAM Theatre: former Lead Teaching Artist for WAM’s Teen Ensemble and Elder Ensemble. Selected Theatre Credits Elsewhere: Artistic Director Red Earth Ensemble NYC, Co-Artistic Director Bazaar Productions, Director Behind the Tapestry: Tom Truss solo piece, Dramaturg Dramatic Question Theater NYC. Additional artistic credits: Producing Artistic Director of The Foundry, a multidisciplinary performing arts venue in West Stockbridge, MA Creative inspiration: Fiercely independent artists with generous spirit. Selected training: Graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts Experimental Theater Wing Awards/proudest achievements: Creating and maintaining a performing arts space that gives platform to emerging artists and often unheard voices. Final word: “Art is restoration: the idea is to repair the damages that are inflicted, to make something that is fragmented – which is what fear and anxiety do to a person – into something whole.” – Louis Bourgeois Connect: thefoundryws.com @thefoundryws
Estefanía Fadul (she/her) is a Colombian-born, New Hampshire-raised, NYC-based theatre director primarily of new work. WAM Theatre: Kamloopa, Fresh Takes readings of In Her Bones, Native Gardens and The Oregon Trail. Selected Theatre Credits Elsewhere: Eva Luna (Repertorio Español), The Garbologists (Philadelphia Theatre Company), Azul (Southern Rep), The Same Day (Sfumato Theatre, Bulgaria), Pranayama (Juilliard), Agent 355 (Chautauqua). Selected Assistant Directing credits: ToasT (Public Theater), The Clean House (Williamstown), Iphigenia in Aulis (Classic Stage Company). Selected developmental work: Last Coffee in Rockville (The Farm), Maybe You Should Just (Public Theater), Derecho (Latinx Playwrights Circle), Lyons Pride (Playwrights Realm). Film/TV: Shadow to the director on CBS’ Doubt Membership/Affiliations: Ensemble Studio Theatre (Co-Artistic Director), Center for Performance and Civic Practice (leadership circle), Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Drama League Board of Directors, New Georges Affiliated Artist, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. Alumna of: Drama League Directors Project Fall and TV Fellowships, O’Neill National Directors Fellowship, Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellowship, Foeller Fellowship at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Van Lier Fellowship at Repertorio Español, Civilians’ R&D Group, NALAC Leadership Institute. Training: Vassar College (BA) Awards/proudest achievements: New York Stage and Film Pfaelzer Award. One of my proudest achievements is creating Carla’s Quince, an immersive virtual theatre experience to mobilize the Latinx vote in the 2020 election. Connect: www.estefaniafadul.com
Jessica Kahkoska (she/her) is a writer, producer, and researcher/dramaturg for theatre and TV. Current role with WAM: playwright, In Her Bones WAM Theatre: Debut Selected Theatre Credits Elsewhere: Wild Fire (World Premiere: Denver Center for the Performing Arts), Agent 355 (with Preston Max Allen, New York Stage and Film, Signature Theatre), The Death of Desert Rose (with Elliah Heifetz, under commercial option), Baba (with Elliah Heifetz, Iowa State University Guest-Artist-in-Residence), Letters to the President (co-conceived with Michael Bello, The Great Hall at Cooper Union), Wild Home: An American Odyssey (Notch Theatre Company, 2020 NEA ArtWorks Grant Recipient), and Nia (World Premiere: UNC Chapel Hill). Additional artistic credits: In TV, Jessica has worked as a Research and Associate Producer for series and films at CNN. Discovery. and Discovery+, and others. Creative inspiration: I am most interested in work inspired by true stories, the American West, and community collaboration. Community Engagement/Activist work: For community engagement, In Her Bones was the subject/recipient of talks at History Colorado “Borderlands Lecture Series,” University of Wyoming College of Philosophy and Religious Studies Public Lecture, Arts and Marsico Visiting Scholarship at Denver University, Season Writer-in-Residence at Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre, and a Western Jewish Studies Association Conference Presentation Membership/Affiliations: Executive VP of Programs, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America. Member: Dramatists Guild of America. Faculty: Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts. Selected training: Northwestern, BA. SUNY New Paltz, MBA (In Process) Awards/proudest achievements: She is the 2022 recipient of the National Archives Foundation’s Cokie Roberts Women’s History Fellowship and the Marion International Fellowship in the Performing Arts. Previously: Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellowship, a Red Line Arts-in-Society Grant, the Marion International Fellowship in the Performing Arts (2017), and creative residencies at UCROSS, Green Box Arts, Goodspeed Musicals, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, and the Chautauqua Institution. Connect: Instagram: Jkos13
Talya Kingston (she/her) is a playwright, dramaturg and educator, who is inspired by the live interactions between artists and audiences and how these can be a catalyst for social change. WAM Theatre: Associate Artistic Director, Playwright: Port of Entry. Playwriting: Circling Suspicion (Commissioned by Plays In Place, Upcoming production at Historic Northampton), Port of Entry (2022 Silverthorne Theatre), Campus Unrest (2020 WAM Fresh Takes, 2019 Silverthorne Theatre, 2018 Play by Play Festival, finalist in the 2019 Bechtel Test Fest), Wave Goodbye (2020 PLAYground TYA Festival at NorthWestern University, semi-finalist for Provincetown Playhouse’s New Plays for Young Audiences), Sheryl Addresses the PGO (The New England Monologues Project), Wishing on Satellites, Anxiety Overdrive. Selected Dramaturgy: WAM Theatre (What The Constitution Means to Me, Roe, Lady Randy), Hartford Stage (Necessary Targets), New York Fringe Festival (Helmet), Ko Festival (Seriously.. What Did You Call Me? Written and performed by Onawumi Jean Moss). Publications: Scene Magazine, Theater Journal, The Moving Voice, European Stages, Howlround and The Valley Advocate. Selected training: MFA University of Massachusetts. Affiliations: proud member of the Northampton Playwrights Lab, Play Incubation Collective, the Dramatist Guild, and is the North-East Regional VP for LMDA Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.
Trenda Loftin (she/her) is a body-centered and collaborative playwright, director, actor, and consultant. Committed to using theatre to raise awareness, question patterns, inspire action, and build community, Trenda integrates artistic expression with nuanced identity exploration. WAM Theatre: BIPOC Staff Advocate, director for Hollow Roots. Previous WAM Theatre: Teaching Artist and steward for the POC Ensemble and performer in Campus Unrest. Selected Credits Elsewhere: Voices Carry (Playwright and facilitator), Gasping Whiteness (co-director, actor), Independent: The Heroin Project (actor), Breastless (actor), Far Reaches (actor) When Last We Flew (director) and the film “Gale and the Fish” (actor). Playwriting: her play When the System Swallows you and its accompanying workshop has been hosted by Franklin County Jail, Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center, and Voices From Inside. Affiliations and Awards: Trenda is the Co-Chair of GLSEN MA Board of Directors, and has served as chair of the Western Massachusetts Fall Youth Conference (2017-2019). Her more recent endeavors include becoming a worker-owner of The Compost Co-operative Inc., a Massachusetts licensed REALTOR®️ with Coldwell Banker Community Realtors, and Founder of Willow Permanent Real Estate Cooperative LLC. Trenda is excited to be integrating her theatre experience with racial, social, and housing justice efforts. Connect: to learn more about Trenda’s work visit linktr.ee/whatistrendaupto
WAM’s sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Blue Q., Berkshire Roots, Blue Spark Financial, BRAVA, Downright Pro, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Garden Gables Inn, Guidos Fresh Marketplace, Mill Town Foundation, Inc., MILL TOWN FOUNDATION, INC. Health Professional Coaching, Heller & Robbins Attorneys at Law, Interprint, 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 is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). WAM Theatre’s 2022 Season was also supported in part by grants from Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Bradson Education & Library Foundation, The Feigenbaum Foundation, Lee Bank Foundation, Scarlet Sock Foundation, 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