Playwright John Patrick Shanley
(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – The Berkshire Actors Theatre (BAT) 2012 summer season at Berkshire Museum will pair two shows by John Patrick Shanley: Doubt: A Parable, Shanley’s Pulitzer and Tony award-winning play, and a remount of last season’s successful production of Four Dogs and a Bone. The Shanley plays will be performed in repertory in the time span from Thursday, June 21, through Sunday, July 15, 2012.
Doubt: A Parable explores its characters’ struggle to hold on to their deeply held beliefs within the confines of a Bronx Catholic School in 1964, while Four Dogs and a Bone is a send-up about the movie business.
“The idea of running these two plays in repertory appealed to me as a way to create a striking juxtaposition between theater that makes you think deeply about important issues and theater that allows you to simply be entertained,” says BAT artistic director Clover Bell-Devaney. “The chance to experience two totally different sides of one renowned playwright’s work is a unique opportunity for actors and audience alike, and I’m so pleased to have John Patrick Shanley on board to consult with about his work during the creative process.”
BAT artistic director Clover Bell-Devaney and director Andrew Volkoff (photo Enrico Spada)
Shanley, who wrote and directed the 2008 Oscar-nominated film version of Doubt starring Meryl Streep as well as being an Academy Award-winner for the movie Moonstruck, is excited to see his work being performed by BAT. “Clearly, theater is alive and kicking at Berkshire Actors Theatre,” Shanley said, calling BAT a “vibrant new theater company.” Plans are in the works to arrange a talk-back after one of the performances, which the playwright hopes to attend.
The cast of Four Dogs and a Bone (Bell-Devaney, Michael Foster, Daniel Popowich, and Deann Halper) will be back to reprise their roles this summer, as will director Andrew Volkoff and many of the designers. Last summer’s successful production of Four Dogs and a Bone persuaded Bell-Devaney to remount the piece this year. “Four Dogs and a Bone ran for three weeks last August, and garnered 11 raves out of eleven reviews. For every one person that says it was the best thing they saw last summer, there are ten people who missed it and wish they’d seen it. It makes sense to bring it back for that reason, it also fits our budget, and creates a striking contrast to Doubt; both pieces are riveting, but Four Dogs is literally laugh after laugh.”
In only the second season for the group, Bell-Devaney has ambitious plans for her still-new company. “We’re moving towards becoming an equity company, and will be casting a mix of equity and non-equity actors this season,” she said. “We also have a new performance venue this year.”
Berkshire Actors Theatre will be performing at Berkshire Museum for the 2012 season, utilizing the museum’s 250-seat theater. “The Berkshire Museum is committed to using our unique resources to contribute to the cultural fabric of the Berkshires and we are delighted to host Berkshire Actors Theatre for its second season,” says Van W. Shields, Berkshire Museum’s executive director.
At the forefront of Bell-Devaney’s mind is her mission for BAT. “We want to continue to select pieces that give actors the spotlight, without sacrificing production values, and to offer work opportunities to local theater artists first, before looking in New York or elsewhere,” she said. “I have become particularly committed to the idea of making Pittsfield our home. I think the energy happening here right now is phenomenal and we want to be a part of its artistic resurgence.”
BAT tickets are $25 for general seating; for advance purchase, call 413.443.7171, ext. 10, or visit the Berkshire Museum’s front desk.