LENOX, MA (October 18, 2017) – WAM Theatre’s fall Mainstage production of The Last Wife by Kate Hennig opened this past weekend to full houses and standing ovations at Shakespeare & Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. The run continues weekends through November 5 with an exciting series of post-show conversations planned. Here’s a peek at what the press are saying
“Insightful and engaging…epic in sweep and profound in ambition…Rich in nuance…Henry…is brought to exuberant life by John Hadden” – Albany Times Union
“…very good theater. It is compelling and enthralling…WAM’s production won’t last forever, which is a pity, for it should be seen by as many people as possible.” – The Berkshire Edge
“John Hadden is wonderful as Henry…” On Nehassaiu deGannes as Kate: “This is a perfect role for the actress and she is perfect in it.” – The Berkshire Edge
A contemporary reimagining of the compelling relationship between Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, and the King, The Last Wife is a funny, powerful examination of patriarchy, sexual politics, and women’s rights. The Last Wife stars Berkshire favorites Nehassaiu deGannes, John Hadden, and David Joseph, along with talented WAM newcomers Lily Linke, Alicia Piemme Nelson, and Raoul Silver. The play premiered at the Stratford Festival in 2015 and enjoyed a completely sold-out and extended run.
The four free post-show conversations take place after our 2 pm matinees and focus on Patriarchy, Women in Power, and Sexual Politics. The schedule is as follows:
Saturday, October 21 after the 2 pm matinee
“Patriarchy: A Crime Against Humanity?”
We will explore the theme of patriarchy, making connections between the patriarchy experienced in the world of the play and the ramifications of that patriarchal legacy in our world today. Joining us for this discussion are two Berkshire-based scholars: Michael Alexander, former Virginia Tech professor of History and current member of the History faculty at Miss Hall’s School, and Alison Case, Professor of English and Chair of the Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies Program at Williams College.
Sunday, October 22 following the 2 pm matinee
A Conversation with the Actors
Find out what our cast found important in this script, and how being a part of this production has informed their lives and their craft.
Friday, October 27 following the 2 pm matinee
“Women in Power Today”
Uniting women with different experiences in grassroots and political leadership, we will examine the risks and rewards women experience while using their authority to create political and social change. For this conversation, we will welcome the perspectives of three inspiring Berkshire women: Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant, CEO and Founding Director of Multicultural BRIDGE, a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting cultural competence and integration of diverse groups in Western Massachusetts; Christine Hoyt, Member of the Board of Selectman for the Town of Adams; and Roberta McCulloch-Dews, Director of Administrative Services for the City of Pittsfield.
Saturday, November 4 after the 2 pm matinee
“Sexual Politics: Women’s Bodies in Political Life”
with Asma Abbas, Associate Professor of Politics and Philosophy at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. In the play, we see how physical relationships impact political power. Prompted by the play, we will talk one-on-one with Dr. Abbas about the complex interconnectedness of sexuality and political life and discuss how we can move forward in our political world today.
Performances of The Last Wife are Friday and Saturday Evenings at 7:30pm and Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 2pm. (Please note: Please note: added 2pm matinee on Friday, October 27 and no performances on Sunday, October 29). Regularly priced tickets are $27-$40. Groups of 10+ save 20% on full-priced tickets. All tickets are available through the Shakespeare & Company box office at 413-637-3353 or online at tickets.shakespeare.org. The box office, located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox, is open from 11am-3pm Wednesday–Sunday (closed Monday/Tuesday), and 90 minutes prior to all performances.
For more information on WAM Theatre and The Last Wife, visit: www.wamtheatre.com/the-last-wife.
In keeping with their double philanthropic mission, WAM Theatre will be donating 25% of the box office proceeds from to their 13th beneficiary, The Soldier On Women’s Program.
Since 2005, Soldier On has been providing services to women veterans and currently offers a transitional housing program for up to sixteen homeless female veterans in a trauma informed care setting. WAM’s donation will support care during the transition to independent or family life for the residents of the Soldier On Women’s Program.
“The Soldier On Women’s Program is thrilled to be WAM’s 2017 beneficiary and honored to work with a program that is so passionate about improving the lives of females,” Soldier On’s Executive Director Sara Scoco said. “Their generous donation will allow Soldier On to continue to provide services and support to homeless female veterans, including groups within the program and follow up case management services after women have successfully transitioned into the community. Soldier On Women’s Program simply would not exist without benevolent donors such as WAM, and we are absolutely delighted to be a part of this experience.”
Soldier On Women’s Program website: http://www.wesoldieron.org/womens-program/
About the Playwright: Kate Hennig
WAM Theatre: 2016 Fresh Takes Reading Series. 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: Kelly Galvin
WAM Theatre: Emilie remount (Associate Director), Artistic Associate (2012-2014), Fresh Takes Inaugural Playreading Series (Curator and Producer), Blue Stockings reading (Director), Emilie (Producer). Elsewhere: Directing: Southwest Shakespeare Company (Photograph 51), Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (Memorial), Shakespeare & Company (The Clean House reading, Fall Festival of Shakespeare 2008-2013, Bankside Preludes), Boston University School of Theatre (The Cherry Orchard, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Duchess of Malfi, The Tall Girls, Changes of Heart). Assistant Directing: Bedlam NYC, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Boston Center for American Performance, Shakespeare & Company. 2016 Directing Observership, Huntington Theatre Company. 2017 Artistic Development & Directing Internship, Arena Stage. Training: MFA Directing and Certificate in Arts Administration, Boston University. Wellesley College (BA, Political Theory and Theatre Studies).
ABOUT THE CAST
Nehassaiu deGannes (Kate)
WAM Theatre: Debut. Elsewhere: Intimate Apparel, Door of No Return, Or, (Shakespeare & Co), The Convert (Underground Railway Theatre), King Lear (Chicago Shakes), Marisol, Tallest Building In The World (Luna Stage), Doubt, A Song For My Father, (Oldcastle), Door of No Return, EQUUS with Alec Baldwin (John Drew Theatre, Guild Hall), Brave New World (Litmus/ Theatre Passe Muraille), Hamlet (Driftwood), Romeo and Juliet, Three Musketeers (Stratford Festival of Canada); and in NYC: T.B. Sheets (Buran Theater), Gertrude Stein Lab (director) & Three Gifts for Lenny Bruce, Celia (Target Margin), readings & new play development with Ensemble Studio Theatre, Red Bull, The Lark, New Dramatists, New Georges, Columbia U. Training: Trinity Rep Conservatory, Brown University MFA. Awards: Berkshire Theater Award Outstanding Supporting Actor for Or; Center For Book Arts National Poetry Award. Etcetera: Part-Time Lecturer, Theater Program, Princeton University. Thank you Kristen, Kelly, Kate Hennig & WAM! Thank you Princeton & Jane Cox too! Online: nehassaiu.com @NehassaiuActor
John Hadden (Henry)
WAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: John is a founding member of Shakespeare & Co (2016 “Berkie” award-winner), co-founder/artistic director of Counterpoint Theater (Boston), was artistic director at Hubbard Hall (Cambridge, NY), and associate artist with We Players (San Francisco). He has acted in and directed about 100 plays here and abroad, and his own plays, including stray dogs, Hard Rain, King Fool, and Women at War, have been seen at LaMaMa ETC, PS 122, EST, the National Arts Club, Arsenal Center for the Arts, The Colonial, Mixed Company, the Wharton Salon, and The Good Ear Review. A solo show, based on his book Conversations with a Masked Man: My Father, the CIA, and Me (Arcade 2016), is currently on tour. Online: johnlhadden.com.
David Joseph (Thom)
WAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: David has been at Shakespeare & Company for 12 seasons. Past roles include: The Wharton Comedies, George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Elyot in Private Lives, Dorante in The Liar, Sebastian in The Tempest, Clown 2 (12 Characters) in 39 Steps. Other recent roles include Michael in Can You Hear Me Baby (NYC & The Goodwill Theatre), George in WORD PLAY at Playwrights Horizons (NYC), Johnny in Hotel California (NYC), Coleman in I Married The Icepick Killer at Stella Adler Theatre (NYC). David is in post-production for the feature film he produced and starred in, Penny Land. Damsel by Douglas Burgdorf, another feature film, premiered at the Spain International Film Festival. Other film credits: Romeo in Romeo & Juliet for The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, Glowing Screens, Magdalena’s Brain. Et Cetera: David recently earned a Berkshire Theater Award Best Actor nomination for playing Charlie Chaplin in The Consul, The Tramp and America’s Sweetheart at Oldcastle Theatre. In 2008 and 2010, David sang the National Anthem at Fenway Park.
Lily Linke (Mary)
WAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: Recent credits include Good (New Repertory Theatre), Julius Caesar, 1984, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Classic Repertory Company), and The Wastelands Project (Children of the Wild). Training: She received her BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University. Et Cetera: Lily is primarily a teacher and actor/educator and has worked in schools, theaters, and after-school and summer programs on both coasts. She currently manages New Repertory Theatre’s Education department and resides in Somerville, MA.
Alicia Piemme Nelson (Bess)
WAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: Buck Hill Productions (As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale, The Taming of the Shrew), Bay Area Children’s Theatre (The Rainbow Fish Musical, Five Little Monkeys), Boston University (Don Juan Comes Back from the War, The Cherry Orchard, Mad Forest, The Duchess of Malfi, The Tall Girls), One Year Lease – Apprenticeship (Σε Τουτο το βουνο), Tabard Theatre (You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown). Training: BFA Acting – Boston University, Physical Theatre/Clowning – Accademia dell’Arte Awards: KCACTF Region VII Finalist Online: ampnelson.com
Raoul Silver (Eddie)
WAM Theatre: Debut Film/TV: A Bread Factory Training: HB Studios, School of Rock, Brooklyn Music Factory Et cetera: Raoul is 11 years old and lives in Columbia County, NY. Upcoming: New York: Once Upon The Bronx (Theater for the New City Dream Up Festival 2017) Online: www.youtube.com/raoulsilver
ABOUT WAM THEATRE
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 $32,500 to twelve nonprofit organizations and provided paid work to more than 200 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 www.WAMTheatre.com