WAM Theatre Announces Expansion of Theatre Leadership

New Hires and Board Members Join Award-Winning Theatre

LEE, MA [January 25, 2018] — WAM Theatre embarks on its ninth season with the announcement of two new members of the WAM Leadership Team and three new members of its Board of Directors.  Talya Kingston has been named Associate Artistic Director, and Max Galdos-Shapiro will join WAM as General Manager. Together with Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven and Philanthropy and Outreach Coordinator Gwendolyn Tunnicliffe, they comprise the leadership team at WAM Theatre. Newly appointed to WAM’s Board of Directors are Lynn Festa, Wendy Healey, and Arwen Lowbridge.

“We are incredibly proud to have created two new leadership positions at WAM Theatre,” said Kristen van Ginhoven, Artistic Director. “As a growing company, we were amazed by the number of remarkable resumes we received for these two roles. There are many talented theatre professionals in our area who are ready and eager for leadership growth. We feel lucky to have added Talya and Max to our team, and we hope more pathways to leadership open up in the future.”

WAM Theatre worked with consultant Joan Coombs from Noble Work Consulting to create a thoughtful and intentional interview process. A blind submission process, neutral interview questions, and a researched scoring system were used to ensure equity in the final decision-making.

Talya Kingston

Originally from Britain, Talya Kingston is a dramaturg, playwright, and educator with a particular interest in new play development and theatre for social change. Prior to joining WAM, she was a Visiting Professor of Theatre at Hampshire College.  She has also held the positions of Education Director at Hartford Stage and of Educational Programs Coordinator at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco.

Talya’s writing on theatre has appeared in Theater Journal, The Moving Voice, European Stages, HowlRound, and the Valley Advocate. She is a member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and the Northampton Playwrights Lab, and holds an MFA in dramaturgy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

“I’m thrilled to join WAM at a time when it is more important than ever to empower women and girls by listening to their stories,” Kingston explained. “I have spent 20 years working at the intersection of theatre and education, and I believe that theatre is a powerful medium to inspire empathy, incite conversation, and activate change.  Above all, I love a good story well told, and the community that is created in its telling.”

Max Galdos-Shapiro

Max Galdos-Shapiro is a Berkshire-based educator and theater-maker with experience in both creative and technical work. His recent credits include serving as Production Manager for WAM Theatre’s production of The Last Wife and Assistant Director for Passage, a new play written and produced by Kickwheel Ensemble Theater. When not in the theater, Max works as an environmental educator teaching ecology and outdoor skills to young people.

“WAM not only tells important and compelling stories, but also does this while supporting women and girls both locally and abroad,” Galdos-Shapiro said. “At a time when the fight for gender rights is at the forefront of our societal consciousness, I am delighted to have this opportunity to be a part of the WAM team.”

“For 2018, we are also excited to welcome two new board members, Wendy Healey and Arwen Lowbridge, and also announce Lynn Festa, who joined our board in 2017,” said van Ginhoven. “Wendy, Lynn, and Arwen all bring important expertise and deep passion for our mission. They, along with Board President Tammy Valicenti and Vice President Christopher Buono, will be instrumental in helping WAM reach the next step in our growth as an organization where arts and activism meet.”

WAM Board Members: Lynn Festa, Wendy Healey, Kristen van Ginhoven, Tammy Valicenti, Christopher Buono, and Arwen Lowbridge

Lynn Festa OTR, CHT, CDWF has been a certified hand therapist since 1995, and has been a clinician in a variety of settings for over 29 years. She combines her work as an OT/CHT with providing training to other health care providers in promoting wellness and limiting burnout. Lynn has given national presentations and webinars on this topic, and runs workshops with an emphasis on empathy and compassion, using evidence-based studies and strategies. She attained her certificate in positive psychology from the Wholebeing Institute, and is a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator through The Daring Way™. She has also completed life-coach training through the Martha Beck Institute. She is a Clinical Consultant at Berkshire Hand to Shoulder Center and is the owner of Health Professional Coaching, LLC. She resides in Lenox with her husband. With her free time, she loves the outdoors, open water swimming, singing, and learning to play the piano. She is also a board member of the Berkshire Music School. Lynn is grateful for the years of theatre experience as a teenager and college student and is thrilled to be a part of WAM’s mission to promote the many benefits theatre provides to girls of all ages.

Wendy Healey has been in the banking and financial technology business for over 20 years.  She has worked for Lee Bank since December of 2015. She has been active with local chambers of commerce her entire career and has served on the board of three of them, as well as serving as the President of the Avon Chamber of Commerce. Wendy has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Connecticut where she majored in English Literature, as well as a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Connecticut. She grew up as an Army brat and a musician. She played both the piano and the oboe in high school, and still likes to practice her piano music. Wendy lives in an 1832 home on an old dairy farm in Colebrook, CT with her partner Scott and their three rescue dogs. She loves spending time around the house, doing projects both inside and out. Wendy enjoys history and family genealogy. She is looking forward to serving on the board of WAM because it aligns well with her appreciation of the arts and interest in supporting girls and women.

Arwen Lowbridge has been in the performing arts since age five, when she started studying dance. She had a twenty-year career in the non-profit arts world that began with live performance and spanned to include theatrical production, arts administration, non-profit management, fundraising, grant writing, teaching, and mentoring young artists. She earned her BFA in Acting with honors from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a Certificate in Fundraising & Development from Rollins College’s Crummer School of Business. After many wonderful years in the arts, in 2015 she changed directions to pursue her second passion: financial planning. She established her financial planning practice for people who seek unbiased advice and help with their important financial decisions. She is now a Financial Advisor with Baystate Financial and is pursuing her Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. In her current service to the theatrical arts, she sits on the Board of Directors for the Brooklyn-based play company, The Debate Society, and the Berkshires-based WAM Theatre. She lives in the Berkshires with her husband and volunteers at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens.


Our 2018 sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Baystate Financial, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Berkshire Magazine, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, Blue Q, Brabson Library & Educational Foundation, Canyon Ranch, The Charles H. Hall Foundation, CMW Retirement Plan Services LLC, Custom Business Solutions, The Dylandale Foundation, The Feigenbaum Foundation, the Garden Gables Inn, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, International Schools Theatre Association, Interprint, Lee Bank, Massachusetts Cultural Council, J.H. Maxymillian, Inc., Methuselah Bar and Lounge, Natracare, No. Six Depot Roastery and Café, RB Design Co., The Rookwood Inn, The Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, Rouge Restaurant & Bistro, Salisbury Bank, T Square Design Studio, Toole Insurance, a. von schlegell & co.

WAM Theatre is also supported in part by grants from the Alford-Egremont Cultural Council, Lenox Cultural Council, New Marlborough Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Cultural Council of Northern Berkshires, Otis Cultural Council, and Richmond Cultural Council – local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


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 $41,500 to thirteen nonprofit organizations and provided paid work to more than 250 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

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