(LENOX, Mass.) – The new comedy “Holy Laughter” by Catherine Trieschmann receives its first developmental workshop production by WAM Theatre at Barrington Stage’s Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center from Thursday, October 29, through Sunday, November 22, 2015. “Holy Laughter” is a poignant comedy that follows Abigail, an Episcopal priest who finds that the reality of leading a church is radically and hilariously different than what she learned in seminary. Hymns, liturgical dance and a wicked tongue lift this antic portrait of a small, struggling congregation to comic heights.
In keeping with WAM’s double philanthropic mission, one-quarter of the box office proceeds from “Holy Laughter” will be donated to the Hands in Outreach and Sisters for Peace girls education project in Nepal. There will be a lobby display featuring the collaborative work of these two organizations and a talkback with them on the closing performance on November 22 at 2pm.
Four post-show talkback sessions are being offered. Each will feature a discussion about the creative process as well as a question and answer session. Playwright Catherine Trieschmann leads off the series following the Saturday, October 31, 7:30 pm preview performance.
A talkback with the cast will take place after the 2 pm matinee on Saturday, November 7, and with the design team following the matinee on Saturday, November 14. On Sunday, November 22, after the 2pm matinee, there will be a post-show discussion with this year’s beneficiaries, Hands in Outreach and Sisters For Peace, about their work and the impact of WAM’s donation, followed by the check presentation.
Previews for WAM Theatre’s mainstage production of Holy Laughter by Catherine Trieshmann start on Thursday, October 29 and run through Saturday, October 31 at 7:30 pm at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center at 36 Linden Street in Pittsfield. Tickets for preview performances are just $18. This developmental workshop production officially opens at the 2 pm performance on Sunday, November 1, and continues performances Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm through November 22. The production is recommended for ages 13 and up.
“This is always the most exciting time of year for WAM Theatre,” says artistic director Kristen van Ginhoven, “All our efforts to use theatre to benefit women and girls come to fruition through producing our mainstage production. We can’t wait to share this touching new comedy with our audiences and, at the same time, use this production as our philanthropy by helping keep five girls in school in 2016 plus helping 125 families rebuild following the catastrophic earthquake earlier this year in Nepal. WAM’s double philanthropic model means that by attending this show, our audiences are supporting both the arts and women and girls, a double WAMmy!”
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian, who directed the 2014 Fresh Takes Reading of Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England by Madeleine George, the cast features Dana Harrison (Shakespeare & Company’s Private Lives), Ron Komora (The Poet in An Iliad at Capital Rep), Amie Lytle (Around the World in 80 Days, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater), Kimberlee Monroe (Maid’s Door at the Billy Holiday Theatre, NYC), and Benjamin Zoëy.
Tickets are $18-$40 and are being sold through the Barrington Stage Company (BSC) box office. They can be purchased in three easy ways: by calling the BSC box office at 413-236-8888, going in person during box office hours to 30 Union Street in Pittsfield, or buying online through the BSC ticketing page. https://tickets.barringtonstageco.org/
Sponsors for this production include: Greylock Federal Credit Union; Garden Gables Inn (Producer Sponsors); Berkshire Magazine, RookWood Inn, RBC Wealth Management (Partner Sponsors); Custom Business Solutions, Interprint (Leader Sponsors); Adams Community Bank, Cohen Kinne Valicenti Cook, Rogovoy Report, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank(Patron Sponsors); RB Designs; Nina Molin MD; Jon Gotterer DMD, Dr Jay Wise (Supporter Sponsors).
Additional WAM 2015 Sponsors include: Brabson Library & Educational Foundation, Dylandale Foundation, Feigenbaum Foundation, International Schools Theatre Association, Massachusetts Cultural Council and Petricca Industries (Education Programming). WAM Theatre is also supported in part by grants from the Lee, Lenox, Hinsdale-Peru, Monterey, Northern Berkshire, Richmond, Washington, Windsor Cultural Councils, local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
by Catherine Trieschmann
First Developmental Workshop Production
October 29–November 22, $18–$40
Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center – St. Germain Stage, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, MA
Recommended for ages 13+
Ticket info: www.WAMTheatre.com
Dana Harrison as Esther and Myra
Ron Komora as Lloyd and Victor
Amie Lyttle as Abigail
Kimberlee Monroe as Martine and Vivienne
Benjamin Zoëy as Noah and Sam
Director: Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Set Design: Juliana Von Haubrich
Costume Design: Lauren Gaston
Lighting Design: David Roy
Sound Design: Brad Berridge
Stage Manager: Hope Rose Kelly
Saturday, October 31st after the 7:30pm performance, with the playwright Catherine Trieschmann
Saturday, November 7th after the 2pm matinee, with the cast
Saturday, November 14th after the 2pm matinee, with members of the design team
Sunday, November 22nd, after the 2pm matinee, a post-show discussion with this year’s beneficiaries, Hands in Outreach and Sisters For Peace about their work and the impact of WAM’s donation, followed by the check presentation.
Make ‘em Laugh: Writing Comedy for the Stage
Workshop with Playwright Catherine Trieschmann
Saturday, October 31 3:30-5:30 pm – Limited to 10 people.
Two ticket options:
$35 for the two hour workshop
$50 includes the workshop and the preview of “Holy Laughter” following the workshop at 7:30pm. (Dinner is not included)
About the Playwright: Catherine Trieschmann
WAM Theatre: Debut. Plays: crooked, How the World Began, Hot Georgia Sunday, The Most Deserving, OZ 2.5. Film:Angel’s Crest, Magnolia Pictures. Other: Her work has been produced Off-Broadway at the Women’s Project, the Bush Theatre (London), Out of Joint at the Arcola Theatre (London), South Coast Repertory, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Theatre Company, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, American Theater Company, Florida Stage, Actors Theater of Louisville, the New Theater (Sydney) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, among others. She has received commissions from South Coast Repertory, Manhattan Theatre Club, and the DCPA Theatre Company. Awards: L. Arnold Weissberger Award, Edgerton New Play Award, Otis Guernsey New Voices Award from the William Inge Theater Festival. Online: Columnist on parenting and playwriting at http://howlround.com/authors/catherine-trieschmann.
About the Director: Megan Sandberg-Zakian
WAM Theatre: Fresh Takes reading series 2014. Elsewhere: Megan Sandberg-Zakian is a theater-maker based in Somerville, MA. Favorite recent projects include: Measure for Measure (Actors Shakespeare Project), a site-specific staged reading of Our Town at Cambridge’s Mt. Auburn Cemetery (Underground Railway Theater), the Boston premiere of Tarell McCraney’s The Brother Sister Plays at Company One (IRNE Award: Best Production; IRNE nominee: Best Director; Elliot Norton Nominee: Outstanding Production), and the Northeast premiere of Lydia Diamond’s Harriet Jacobs at Underground Railway Theater (Elliot Norton Nominee: Best New Play; IRNE Nominee: Best Ensemble, Best Actress). Megan has previously served as the Associate Artistic Director of Underground Railway Theater (Cambridge, MA), the Providence Black Repertory Company (RI), and The 52nd Street Project (NYC). Upcoming: It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Dec 2015), The Convert (Underground Railway Theater, Feb 2015). Training and Awards: Megan is a recipient of the TCG Future Leaders grant, a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. Online: www.megansz.com
About the Cast
DANA HARRISON (Esther/Myra) WAM Theatre: Fresh Takes reading: Measure for Measure, Change Makers Gala reading: In Darfur, 24hr Theatre Projects Elsewhere: Shakespeare & Company: Private Lives, The Liar, Les Faux Pas, The Learned Ladies, As You Like It, The Winter’s Tale, The Real Inspector Hound, War of the Worlds, White People, Othello, Scapin, The Canterville Ghost, Island of Slaves, Old Times. Mixed Company: Table Manners, Taking Steps. Boston, London and The Edinburg Fringe: Macbeth, The Tempest, King Lear, Sin, Lolita, Agamemnon, The Dining Room, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Training: Emerson College (MA, Theatre Education). Kenyon College (BA, Drama). Shakespeare & Co. (month-long, text, clown, fight). Sfumato Theatre Lab of Bulgaria (Chekov intensive). Awards: Three-time Berkshire Eagle Noteworthy Performance; Joanne Woodward Acting Trophy, Kenyon College.
RON KOMORA (Lloyd/Victor) WAM Theatre: 24 hour Berkshire/Capital Region Theatre Projects Previous credits: The Poet in An Iliad (Capital Rep), Mayor Meekly in Unnecessary Farce (Chenango River Theatre), fifteen seasons with New York State Theatre Institute in roles ranging from Dickinson in 1776 to Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Film: Sheriff Andy Godbout in Deep in the Darkness for the Chiller Network, Charlie in Tom’s Dilemma for Gluckstern Films, and Harold Gilman in The Thing on the Doorstep for Hansome Spyder Productions. Online: Visit his page on the International Movie Database (IMDB). Awards: 2004 Audie Award for Excellence in Audiobook Narration.
AMIE LYTLE (Abigail) WAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: Around the World in 80 Days, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Daisy Crockett (W.H.A.T.), The Voices of We (333 Productions), Uncle Vanya, CHURCH (Harbor Stage Company), Not Jenny (Bridge Rep of Boston), Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare Now!), Much Ado About Nothing (Boston Theater Company), In the Wake of the Graybow Riots (Sleeping Weazel), Brilliant Traces (Dance New Amsterdam), Free Will and Wanton Lust-workshop (Atlantic Theater Company). Training: MFA Acting-The Actors Studio, BA Theater-Muhlenberg College, Shakespeare & Company, LAMDA. Online: www.amielytle.com
KIMBERLEE MONROE (Martine/Vivienne) WAM Theatre: Debut. Elsewhere: Billy Holiday Theatre, NY: Maid’s Door (Dr.Patel/Orderly). The Actors Temple/ A Layon Gray (Off-Broadway), NY: Girls of Summer (Coach). Classical Theatre of Harlem (Off-Broadway), NY: Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death (Scavenger Lady). H.A.D.L.E.Y Players, NY: Ayre (Sohna/Leonora/Annie), Nobody Knew Where They Was (Black Ruth). Maison des Arts de Creteil; Paris, France: Melvin Van Peebles: Sweetback the Opera (Madam/Foster Woman). Training: American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Acting Coach Ward Nixon. Awards: Audelco Award: Best Ensemble Nomination, Audelco Award: Best Actress, Audelco Award: Best Solo Performance, Planet Connection Festival: Supporting Actress Nomination.
BENJAMIN ZOËY (Noah/Sam) WAM Theatre: Debut. Elsewhere: Romeo & Juliet (Arts After Hours). Training: MFA in Musical Theatre at The Boston Conservatory, BA at McGill University. Online: Pictorial musings on Instagram @ben.zoey
About the 2015 Beneficiaries
Hands In Outreach (HIO), run by Ricky Bernstein of the Berkshires, is a small educational sponsorship program for poor, inner-city girls in Nepal. With a family oriented approach, HIO guides and empowers their girls to be strong, self-reliant adults. By actively partnering with children, families and schools, HIO encourages girls to remain in school, avoiding early marriage and a life of low-wage menial jobs. They carefully monitor the long-term wellbeing of our HIO families, promoting education as a means toward empowerment, gender equality and ultimately, an end to a family’s cycle of profound poverty. As part of HIO’s work after the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal earlier this year, they provided a direct check to the 125 families they support for $50, which provided food for around three months and helped families rebuild. WAM Theatre’s donation to HIO will allow them to make another direct deposit to the 125 families of at least $20. During the fall production, there will be a lobby display will show the impact those funds will have on the families.
Sisters for Peace (SFP), founded by Berkshire resident Caroline Wheeler, is a grassroots, non-profit organization empowering women and girls, locally and around the world who are living in impoverished conditions. SFP is entirely a volunteer-run organization. SFP currently sponsors four HIO girls to attend school and through WAM’s donation, in 2016, will be able to sponsor five girls to stay in school for the entire year. The Holy Laughter lobby display will feature these young women, with photographs, essays, poetry and other works that personalize them and their lives for the audience.
About WAM Theatre
Based in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, WAM Theatre was co-founded in 2010 by Canadian director, actor, educator, and producer Kristen van Ginhoven to create professional theatrical events for everyone, with a focus on women theatre artists and/or stories of women and girls.
WAM Theatre also has a philanthropic mission, inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and donates a portion of the proceeds from its theatrical events to organizations that benefit women and girls.
Over the past five years, WAM Theatre has donated more than $15,000 to seven nonprofit organizations and provided paid work to more than 100 theatre artists. In addition to the main stage productions and special events, WAM Theatre’s activities include a comprehensive educational outreach program and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series.