Jayne Atkinson Stars as Mrs. Woodrow Wilson at Playwrights Lab Reading Series

Jayne Atkinson

Jayne Atkinson

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Tony Award-nominee Jayne Atkinson, perhaps best known for her role as Karen Hayes on 24 and in the CBS drama, Criminal Minds, plays Edith Wilson, wife of President Woodrow Wilson, in a staged reading of Kelly Masterson’s Edith, on Wednesday, July 27 at 7:30, part of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab series at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. Directed by Joe Cacaci, the performance will also feature Michel Gill, Jack Gilpin, Bob Jaffe, and others.

On October 2, 1919, when her husband suffered a massive stroke, Edith Wilson effectively became the first female President of the United States. Edith Bolling Galt Wilson married Woodrow Wilson while he was in office. She became his confidante, companion, champion and, during crisis, his fiercest protector. Edith guarded the door of Woodrow’s White House sick room, allowing access to no one, not even his Chief of Staff.

With only the collusion of the family doctor, Edith kept the truth of Wilson’s debilitation from the unknowing public and an increasingly suspicious opposition. With powerful political foes amassing support to defeat Wilson’s dream of a League of Nations, Edith fought to hold onto the strings of power to complete her husband’s term and achieve his goals. Edith tells her story.

Kelly Masterson is a playwright/screenwriter living in New Jersey. His play Against the Rising Sea was included in the 2008 Berkshire Playwright’s Lab season and subsequently produced at Queen’s Theatre in the Park starring Elizabeth Franz and Jessie Dickey, directed by Joe Cacaci. His one-act plays Terminal 3, Rehab, and A Butler in the House of Plenty were performed at Berkshire Playwrights Lab galas. His original screenplay Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Independent Spirit Award nomination), starred Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke and was directed by Sidney Lumet. He has completed screenplay adaptations of Good People for Tobey Maguire and Mixed Blood for Samuel L. Jackson. He is currently working on an update of The Children’s Hour, Lillian Hellman’s iconic 1934 play, for HBO and a pilot for his original series, Stones, for AMC. Kelly is a member of Writer’s Guild of America East.

“Having had the pleasure of directing a number of works by Kelly Masterson, it was gratifying and exciting to hear he’d written a new play (‘Edith’) that he hoped might have its premiere at the Berkshire Playwrights Lab,” said Cacaci. “Upon reading the play, all four artistic directors felt strongly that it should be in our 2011 season. Making a historical play feel both urgent and relevant is a monumental task, but he has accomplished both.”

Admission is free, but reservations are suggested. For tickets, call 413.528.0100 or visit the Mahaiwe Box Office (14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, Mass.).

About 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 see Berkshire Playwrights Lab.




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