Jayne Atkinson, Alison Larkin highlight WAM Theatre's 2018 season

Berkshire Eagle staff

LENOX — WAM Theatre is marking its ninth season with a one-actress play starring Jayne Atkinson and the world premiere of comedienne Alison Larkin's one-woman show.

The 2018 season also includes WAM's fifth annual Fresh Takes readings series, a summer gala hosted by Bill Bowers and a series of special community collaborations.

"This season's play selections showcases seven fresh and dynamic stories about inspiring women, all written and directed by women and even including some humor and lightness — something we at WAM have been aching for more of in today's world," WAM artistic director Kristen van Ginhoven says in a news release.

Highlighting the schedule is WAM's fall main stage production, "Ann" by Holland Taylor, starring Jayne Atkinson as Texas governor Ann Richards. A co-production with Dorset (Vt.) Theatre Festival — where the show will be produced Aug. 29-Sept. 1 — "Ann" will be performed in the Berkshires Oct. 19-28 at Shakespeare & Company's Tina Packer Playhouse. Van Ginhoven is directing.

"Kristen and WAM have long inspired me personally for the amazing work they do on behalf of women," Dorset Theatre Festival artistic director Dina Janis said in a WAM news release. "With the Festival's commitment to gender equity in theater and to women's voices in particular, this project seemed like a perfect opportunity for collaboration between our theaters."


On May 4 and 5, Alison Larkin, South County-based comedienne, award-winning audiobook narrator and bestselling author of "The English American," premieres new show, "Alison Larkin LIVE!" at Shakespeare & Company's Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. There will be three performances: 7:30 p.m. May 4 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 5, with a panel discussion after the Saturday matinee and a champagne reception with Larkin for VIP ticket holders on Saturday night.

Larkin will talk about her native England, America, adoption, reunion, parenting, life in the Berkshires, and how to brew the perfect cup of tea.

"The show was performed once in preview at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center," Larkin says in the WAM release. "Since then, people have been asking me when it's going to premiere. I knew the answer when Kristen asked me if there was anything I'd like to do for WAM. I'm a big fan of the work WAM is doing and delighted to be doing this performance in May in the Berkshires."


The fifth season of WAM's signature Fresh Takes Play Reading Series presents a series of plays that examine complex issues affecting women and girls, featuring local professional actors and directors.

"Fresh Takes 2018 continues WAM's commitment to connecting Berkshire audiences to female playwrights who are contributing to national and international theatre conversations," said Talya Kingston, WAM's new Associate Artistic Director, who also curated this year's readings.

Fresh Takes kicks of at 3 p.m. April 15 at No. 6 Depot Roastery and Caf in West Stockbridge with "Swallow" by Stef Smith, directed by Kingston. This hit of the 2015 Edinburgh Festival introduces three strangers who are about to face their demons head on.

Also scheduled:

- "The Virgin Trial" by Kate Hennig, directed by Kelly Galvin. 7:30 p.m., May 3. Shakespeare & Company's Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre

Hennig continues her Tudor Queens Trilogy by exploring victim-shaming, sexual consent, and the extraordinary abilities of girls who are becoming women, as she reimagines the little-known story of Elizabeth the First, before she was queen.

- "Honor Killing" by Sarah Bierstock, directed by Molly Merrihew. 3:30 p.m., June 10. No. 6 Depot Roastery and Caf , West Stockbridge

A female American reporter for the New York Times heads to Pakistan to cover the honor killing of a young woman. Denied entrance, she conducts her investigation remotely from Dubai. Through a series of cultural collisions, candid interviews, and dangerous encounters, she learns the horrifying details of this murder, causing her to re-examine troubling details of her own past.

- "Pipeline" by Dominique Morrisseau. 2 p.m., Clark Art Institute, Williamstown.

Inspired by Michelle Alexander's best-seller, "The New Jim Crow," Morrisseau tells a story of Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher who is committed to her students, but is also desperate to give her only son opportunities they will never have. When a controversial incident in his upstate private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent.

- "Escaped Alone" by Caryl Churchill, directed by van Ginhoven. 3:30 p.m., No. 6 Depot Roastery and Caf , West Stockbridge

Three elderly friends and a neighbor spend a series of summer afternoons in the backyard chatting, drinking tea while visions of apocalyptic horror play out inside their minds.


WAM Theatre's Girls Ensemble is a performance group for girls aged 13-18. The ensemble creates an original performance using devised theater methods. This summer, after two years of running the program during the school year, WAM will invite Girls Ensemble alumni and selected new participants to devise a brand new piece to be performed at the summer gala.


WAM's Midsummer Cocktail Party Benefit is set for July 25 at Berkshire Equestrian Center in Richmond. The evening's guests will be the first to learn about the beneficiary of the fall production and will see an exclusive performance by the WAM Girls Ensemble.

The Summer Gala will be hosted by actor Bill Bowers, who has received various nods for his acting and solo performance in the Berkshires. His solo works also have been produced Off-Broadway and around the world.

Tickets for the WAM Gala will go on sale in May.


This year, the WAM Education program will collaborate with Flying Cloud Institute in their after school programming. WAM also will partner with last year's beneficiary, the SOLDIER ON Women's Program, and with the ZONTA Club of Berkshire County, which works to empower women through service and advocacy.

In a new community collaboration, WAM will host BerkChique, the Berkshires' annual pop-up fashion resale fundraiser, May 11-13 at the former Country Curtains space in the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge.


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