WAM Theatre Announces Casting for First Fresh Takes Reading of ‘The Last Wife’

Kristin-Wold-headshot(LENOX, Mass.) – Actors from most of the region’s top summer theaters, including Kristin Wold of Shakespeare & Company, will take part in a reading of “The Last Wife” by Kate Hennig, the opening event of the 2016 Fresh Takes Play Reading Series at WAM Theatre, at No. Six Depot Roastery and Café on Sunday, April 17 at 3 pm. The reading will be directed by WAM Artistic Associate and Fresh Takes Curator Molly Clancy.

A contemporary retelling of the compelling relationship between Katherine Parr and Henry VIII; “The Last Wife” invites audiences to a powerful examination of patriarchy, sexual politics, and women’s rights. Kate is smart, poised, and passionate, a rising star in a world of intense competition, but her obligatory marriage to Henry is rife with the threat of violence and deceit and her devotion to the education of his daughters is putting strain on her marriage. The play had its world premiere in 2015, with a sold out extended run at the Stratford Festival in Canada.

In addition to Kristin Wold (Shakespeare & Company’s Shakespeare’s  Will, Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s All In The Timing) as Kate, other performers include Tom Jaegar (Shakespeare & Company’s Henry V and Young Company Conservatory Director, ) as Henry, Gabrielle Straight (Barrington Stage Company’s Hairspray, Berkshire Theatre Group’s Annie) as Bess, Caroline Calkins (WAM’s Silence, Shakespeare & Company’s Private Eyes) as Mary, David Joseph (Shakespeare & Company’s Midsummer night’s Dream and Henry V) as Thom and Theo Maurino (Berkshire Theatre Group’s Oliver, Shakespeare & Company’s Riotous Youth) as Eddie.

Since 2014 the Fresh Takes series has been introducing Berkshire audiences to ground-breaking works by established women playwrights, focusing on relevant, provocative, uplifting plays that encourage dialogue and deal with current and controversial issues in artful ways. The 2016 Fresh Takes season is sponsored by No. Six Depot and Kristin and James Hatt.

“I’m delighted that WAM is doing this reading because it speaks to your mandate to get the stories of women out there,” playwright Kate Hennig explained. “Women’s stories were dangerous to tell and it is still dangerous to present women’s points of view of history. It is my raison d’etre as a playwright to see women’s stories through their own eyes and with a contemporary lens.”

“Hennig’s writing is richly layered with intelligence and wit, making the dynamic power-plays in this script truly engrossing,” Clancy said. “I’m excited to see the incredible team we’ve assembled for this reading bring Hennig’s contemporary re-telling of this historic and passionate story to life.”

The season kicks off with this April reading, followed by “Photograph 51” by Anna Ziegler, directed by Kelly Galvin on May 15; “The Oregon Trail” by Bekah Brunstetter, directed by Estefanía Fadul on June 19; “Samsara” by Lauren Yee, directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian on August 21; and “Grand Concourse” by Heidi Shreck, directed by Sheila Siragusa on September 11.

This year, in response to audience requests for deeper discussion around the women’s issues raised in each play, WAM Theatre is partnering with OLLI to co-present a companion class called ‘Fresh Takes/Your Take’. Starting on the Monday following the May reading of “Photograph 51,” WAM Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven will share the underpinning of the piece and its author, setting the scene for discussion of audience questions, reactions, and experiences evoked by the Sunday reading.


About Kate Hennig

WAM Theatre: Debut. Writing: Her writing includes poetry, stories, articles for industry publications, a dissertation, two blogs, and a research paper. As a playwright Kate has been a member of the Groundswell Playwrights’ Unit 2003 (More), Tarragon Playwrights’ Unit 2004 (More), and the Banff Playwrights’ Colony 2007 (More) and 2008 (Waterworks). Her play, The Eleventh David was produced in August 2006 as part of the SummerWorks Festival, to great critical and audience acclaim. Kate has written a monologue for movement and voice called The Penelope Principle. She has written two highly subscribed blogs documenting her acting experiences with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and with Billy Elliot: The Musical on Broadway. Her play Waterworks was given a reading at the Stratford Festival in 2012. Venues: The Banff Centre, Nightwood Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Blyth Festival, Grand Theatre, Shaw Festival, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Theatre Aquarius, Theatre Passe Muraille, and Volcano. Et Cetera: Kate’s writing has been funded by the Toronto Arts Council, and by the Ontario Arts Council through the Creators’ Reserve.


About the Director: Molly Clancy

WAM Theatre: Artistic Associate, Fresh Takes Play Reading Series Curator & Producer, Director for Water by the Spoonful, Assistant Director for In Darfur, How The World Began and Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England. Regional Theatre: Molly currently works at Shakespeare & Company as the Publicity Director and previously worked at Florida Studio Theatre (Sarasota, FL) and Home Made Theatre (Saratoga Springs, NY).  Additional Directing: SDC Foundation Observership Class 2015 – 2016, Charlotte’s Web and The Wizard of Oz (Forest Lake Theatre) and The Rwandans’ Visit (Lougheed Festival of the Arts at SUNY Potsdam). Additional Assistant Directing: Taibi Magar’s Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare & Company)  Training: SUNY Potsdam (BA in Theatre and English). Twitter: @MollyClancyy




Fresh Takes Play Reading Series

Curated by WAM Theatre’s Artistic Associate Molly Clancy and hosted by No. Six Depot Roastery and Café on 6 Depot Street in West Stockbridge, MA, on select Sundays at 3 pm.

The 2016 Fresh Takes series is sponsored by No. Six Depot Roastery and Café and Kristin and James Hatt.

There are only 30 tickets available per reading. Tickets are $20, which includes a post-show conversation and the opportunity to meet the cast and director. Refreshments will be available for purchase at the Café.

The companion classes are offered at OLLI’s Pittsfield campus at Berkshire Community College on Monday May 16, June 20, August 22, and September 12 from 7-8:30 pm. $20 for reading only; $40 for one reading/companion class; $139 for all four readings/companion classes. For registration and information visit ‘Fresh Takes/Your Take’


April 17, 2016 (No OLLI companion class)

The Last Wife

by Kate Hennig

directed by Molly Clancy


May 15, 2016 (OLLI companion class May 16)

Photograph 51

by Anna Ziegler

directed by Kelly Galvin


June 19, 2016 (OLLI companion class June 20)

The Oregon Trail

by Bekah Brunstetter

directed by Estefanía Fadul


August 21, 2016 (OLLI companion class August 22)


by Lauren Yee

directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian


September 11, 2016 (OLLI companion class September 12)

Grand Concourse

by Heidi Shreck

directed by Sheila Siragusa




Based in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, WAM Theatre is Where Arts and Activism Meet. The company was co-founded in 2010 by Canadian director, actor, educator, and producer Kristen van Ginhoven. WAM’s vision is to create opportunity for women and girls through the mission of theatre as philanthropy.


Inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from its theatrical events to organizations that benefit women and girls.


Over the past six years, WAM Theatre has donated more than $21,000 to eight nonprofit organizations and provided paid work to more than 175 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. For more information, visit WAM Theatre.




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