WAM Theatre Remounts Drama About Voltaire’s Mistress

Playwright Lauren Gunderson

(LENOX, Mass.) – WAM Theatre stages a limited-run remount of the company’s very successful 2013 production of Lauren Gunderson’s “Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight,” directed by WAM artistic director Kristen van Ginhoven and featuring the entire original cast, at Shakespeare & Company’s Tina Packer Playhouse from Thursday, March 30, to Sunday, April 9.

Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749), best known for her 15-year-liaison with Voltaire, a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher, was far more than a great man’s mistress. She became a highly regarded interpreter of modern physics and a master of mathematics and linguistics during the Age of Enlightenment. In the play, Emilie searches for a formula that will convince the world of her worth by tallying her achievements in love and philosophy.

“Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight” had its world premiere in 2009 at South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, Calif. The play has been described as “fiercely inquisitive and joyfully sexy” (San Francisco Chronicle) and an “ambitious, highly theatrical romp that literally crackles with electricity” (LA/OC Examiner).

WAM Theatre’s 2013 production was deemed “Highly Imaginative…. Highly Theatrical….” by the Berkshire Eagle, which also awarded it Honorable Mention for Best Production and honored Kim Stauffer’s performance as Emilie one of the year’s best.

“We are very excited to announce that the entire original cast and the majority of the creative team are able to reassemble for this remount,” said van Ginhoven, “Giving another life to this audience favorite and critically acclaimed production has been a dream since 2013.”

“I’m not only honored to have WAM re-mount Emilie… I’m inspired,” playwright Lauren Gunderson wrote. “WAM’s commitment to powerful stories combined with their artistic excellence and their civic impact makes me want to write more plays like Emilie… about complex women changing the world. WAM truly manifests my belief that theatre actively and intentionally changes hearts, minds, and the future of a thoughtful and empathetic nation.”

Kim Stauffer

In keeping with WAM’s double philanthropic mission, a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Flying Cloud Institute. WAM’s donation will support scholarships for public school girls who attend Flying Cloud’s after-school Girls Science Clubs, so girls who show promise and interest in science can join the Young Women in Science summer programs where they conduct experiments with women scientists and engineers working in laboratories at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington.

WAM and Flying Cloud Institute also have support from Mass Humanities to engage 25 girls who attend Reid Middle School in Pittsfield and are part of Flying Cloud’s after-school STEAM Team. These girls will conduct science experiments and participate in theater activities that will heighten their appreciation when they attend a matinee of “Emilie” on April 6, with a post-show panel of women scientists.


Kim Stauffer, whose credits include “Mary Stuart” and “Macbeth” at New York Classical Theatre, “Crime and Punishment” at Chester Theatre, and “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Crucible” at Barrington Stage Company, will reprise the role of Emilie.

Voltaire will again be portrayed by Oliver Wadsworth, whose credits include the National Tour of “Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang”, “The Well” at The Public Theatre and “Fully Committed” (Metroland Best Performance) at Capital Repertory Theatre. Additional cast members include Suzanne Ankrum (Tennessee Shakespeare Company), Brendan Cataldo (Adirondack Theater Festival), and Joan Coombs (Shakespeare & Company).

Suzanne Ankrum

Suzanne Ankrum reprises the role of Soubrette. Ankrum’s credits include WAM Theatre Fresh Takes Series: Measure for Measure (Isabella), Blue Stockings (Tess), Samsara (Katie). Elsewhere: The How and the Why (New Century), Ebeneeza, Gross Domestic Product (Hartbeat Ensemble), Buck Naked (Ivoryton Playhouse),  Tartuffe, Merry Wives of Windsor, Woyzeck, Fuddy Meers, A Christmas Carol (Clarence Brown Theatre); The Seagull, Much Ado About Nothing (Henley Street Theatre Company);  Twelfth Night, Henry IV, Part 2 (Richmond Shakespeare). Film/TV: Orange is the New Black, Fever. Training: University of Tennessee-Knoxville (MFA).  Et cetera: Special thanks to Kristen for working her magic and love and thanks to Pete and Luke.


WAM Theatre: Emilie, The Revolutionists (Reading with Chester Theatre). Elsewhere: Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at companies across the US including South Coast Rep (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing mg American Adventures of Dr. Wonderful And Her Dog!), The O’Neill, The Denver Center, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Olney Theatre, Geva and more. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You, Exit, Pursued By A Bear, and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists (Silent Sky, Bauer) and Samuel French (Emilie). She is a Playwright in Residence at The Playwrights Foundation, and a proud Dramatists Guild member. She is from Atlanta, GA and lives in San Francisco. Lauren is the most produced living playwright in America for 2016, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award and the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Co. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship.


WAM Theatre artistic director Kristen van Ginhoven

WAM Theatre artistic director Kristen van Ginhoven

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: Kristen van Ginhoven

WAM Theatre: In Darfur (New England Premiere),Emilie (New England Premiere), The Old Mezzo(World Premiere), The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls and Melancholy Play. Regional Theatre: The Whale (Adirondack Theatre Festival), 10 Minute Play Festival (Barrington Stage Company), Petticoats of Steel (Capital Repertory Theatre), Footloose (Cohoes Music Hall), Children’s Hour (Siena College), Vendetta Chrome (Emerson College). Selected assistant directing: They Physicists, 42nd Street (Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada), Two Men of Florence (Huntington Theatre), Sleuth, Absurd Person Singular (Barrington Stage Company) Training: Dalhousie University (BA), Queen’s University (BEd), Emerson College (MA). Et Cetera:Kristen is the Artistic Director of WAM Theatre, an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and a theatre artist for the International Schools Theatre Association. She was a member of the 2013 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab.





“Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight”

by Lauren Gunderson

Directed by Kristen van Ginhoven

Beneficiary: Flying Cloud Institute


Presented by WAM Theatre

March 30-April 9, 2017

at the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare & Company

Kemble Street, Lenox, MA

Tickets: $10-$40

For tickets visit WAM Theatre

Or call the Shakespeare & Company box office at 413-637-3353



March 30 & 31, April 1, 7 & 8 at 7:30 pm

April 1, 2, 8 & 9 at 2 pm

April 6 at 3 pm


Brendan Cataldo and Suzanne Ankrum in ‘Emilie’ (photo Enrico Spada)


Suzanne Ankrum as Soubrette

Brendan Cataldo as Gentleman

Joan Coombs as Madam

Kim Stauffer as Emilie

Oliver Wadsworth as Voltaire



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.

Since 2010, WAM Theatre has donated more than $30,000 to eleven 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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