Berkshire Playwrights Lab Announces 2011 Free Reading Series and Benefit

Dan Lauria

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Berkshire Playwrights Lab will present five free staged readings of new works by emerging and established playwrights on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm on June 15, July 27, August 10, and August 24 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and on Wednesday, June 29 at 7:30 pm at Bard College at Simon’s Rock Daniel Arts Center McConnell Theater. Audiences will see new plays performed and staged, script in hand, by talented casts of professional actors.

In addition, Berkshire Playwrights Lab will present two special events this summer: the Berkshire Playwrights Lab New Play Benefit on Friday, July 15 at 7:30 pm at the Mahaiwe, and a collaboration with New York University Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and Bard College at Simon’s Rock to present excerpts from new musicals on Sunday, June 26 at 2 at Bard College at Simon’s Rock Daniel Arts Center McConnell Theater.

Daniel Winerman will direct the staged reading of The Recommendation by Jonathan Caren on June 15 at the Mahaiwe. “This play is a bold, theatrical, and shockingly honest look at modern friendship from a thrilling new voice,” said Matthew Penn, co-artistic director of Berkshire Playwrights Lab. It asks the questions: Who is your best friend? The person who treats you the nicest? The person who knows you the best? Or is it the one who owes you the most?”

Elizabeth Franz

On June 26, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, New York University Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, and Bard College at Simon’s Rock will present an afternoon of songs and selections of new musicals. Sarah Schlesinger, chair of New York University Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, who is an Egremont resident and Jim Frangione, co-artistic director of Berkshire Playwrights Lab, have been instrumental in bringing the collaboration together. Bard College at Simon’s Rock is hosting the event.

Local families in South Egremont and Great Barrington will provide housing and pianos for 18 musical book writers and composers from New York University for five days. The various teams will write and rehearse their material at the host homes during their stay, culminating in a free and informal afternoon presentation of the material at Simon’s Rock Daniel Arts Center at 2 on Sunday, June 26.

Rod Menzies will direct The Many Mistresses of Martin Luther King by Andrew Dolan on June 29 at Simon’s Rock Daniel Arts Center.  This darkly humorous play is about a modern American family of second marriages and mixed races set in a university town. The politics of academia weave through the narrative as egos collide, relationships buckle, and the content of character is put to the test. “Andrew Dolan, a seasoned actor, is a new playwriting voice with whom we are excited to work,” said Bob Jaffe. “We think this play is as provocative as its title.”

Larry Bryggman

The annual Berkshire Playwrights Lab New Play Benefit on Friday, July 15 at the Mahaiwe will feature world premiere readings of new short plays written especially for the occasion. The specific titles are kept a surprise. Playwrights David Mamet, Larry Gelbart, and Eric Bogosian have contributed works in past seasons. Actors Dan Lauria, Elizabeth Franz, Larry Bryggman, and others have signed on to perform at the benefit this year. All proceeds from this event support the Berkshire Playwrights Lab Free Reading Series. Tickets are $37 to $152 (the latter including an exclusive post-show reception with the artists).

Joe Cacaci will direct Edith by Kelly Masterson on July 27 at the Mahaiwe. On October 2, 1919, when her husband, President Woodrow Wilson, suffered a massive stroke, Edith Wilson became the first female president of the United States.  With the collusion of only the family doctor, she kept the truth of her husband’s debilitation from the unknowing public and an increasingly suspicious opposition, fighting to complete his term and achieve his goals. “Edith” tells her story.

The August 10 and August 24 plays are TBA.

Admission to the Berkshire Playwrights Lab Free Reading Series indeed costs nothing, but reservations are required. Call 413.528.0100 or visit the Mahaiwe Box Office (14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, Mass.) for reservations.

To reserve free tickets to the Berkshire Playwrights Lab-New York University Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program event at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, call 413.528.2544 or visit Berkshire Playwrights Lab.

For tickets to the Berkshire Playwrights Lab New Play Benefit, call 413.528.2544 or see Berkshire Playwrights Lab.

Founded in 2007 by theater professionals Joe Cacaci, Jim Frangione, Bob Jaffe, and Matthew Penn, the Berkshire Playwrights Lab is the area’s only theater dedicated exclusively to encouraging, developing, and presenting new plays. Through readings—and in the future through workshops and fully-staged productions—the Lab provides emerging and established writers with a professional and creative environment, while offering audiences the engaging and provocative opportunity to share in the dramatic evolution of premiere works.  For more information, call 413.528.2544 or visit Berkshire Playwrights Lab.

 

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