Swallow by Stef Smith Kicks off WAM Theatre’s 2018 Fresh Takes Play Reading Series

LENOX, MA (April 2, 2018) –  The WAM Theatre 2018 Fresh Takes Play reading series kicks off with Swallow by Stef Smith at 3:30 pm on Sunday, April 15 at No. Six Depot Roastery and Café in West Stockbridge. Talya Kingston, WAM’s new Associate Artistic Director and Curator of this Fresh Takes season, will direct.

The cast includes three Western Massachusetts-based professional actors: Stephanie Carlson, Kelsey Flynn, and Rachel Siegel, whose one-woman show Special was co-produced by WAM at the Unicorn Theatre in 2016.

In Swallow, three strangers are about to face their demons head on.  Balanced precariously on a tipping point, they might be able to save one another if they can only overcome their urge to self-destruct.  Questions of identity, heartbreak and hope are explored with vivid, poetic intensity. An Edinburgh Festival Fringe First award winner and the New England premiere from one of Scotland’s most talked about playwrights.

“I wanted to write characters who despite their fury (or maybe because of it) also dance, laugh, have sex and are entirely present,” Smith said of Swallow in a 2015 interview with the Edinburgh Fesival’s publication The List. The Traverse Theatre’s production of the play won The Scotsman’s Fringe First Award and the Scottish Arts Club Theatre Award.

Kingston stated that she is “thrilled to open our 2018 Fresh Takes Reading Series with Stef Smith’s remarkable poetic meditation on female loneliness and the power of human connection featuring a stellar cast of local actors and in the tranquil setting of No. 6 Depot.”  

There are only 35 tickets available per reading. Tickets are $25, 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 2018 Fresh Takes Series is sponsored in part by No. Six Depot.

The 2018 Fresh Takes Series continues on Thursday, May 3, at 7:30pm, with a reading of The Virgin Trial by Kate Hennig, directed by Kelly Galvin, at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at Shakespeare & Company.  This sequel to The Last Wife will reunite the director and many of the cast members from WAM’s hit 2017 production of The Last Wife, including David Joseph and Alicia Piemme Nelson, who will reprise their roles as Tom and Bess. Kate Hennig continues her Tudor Queens Trilogy by cleverly exploring victim-shaming, sexual consent, and the extraordinary abilities of girls who are becoming women, as she reimagines the scandalous and little-known story of Elizabeth the First, before she was Queen.

AT A GLANCE

April 15
Fresh Takes Play Reading
Swallow
by Stef Smith
directed by Talya Kingston
Sunday, April 15 at 3:30pm – talkback following
at No. 6 Depot Roastery & Café, 6 Depot Street, West Stockbridge, MA
Tickets: $25
featuring Stephanie Carlson, Kelsey Flynn, and Rachel Siegel

http://www.wamtheatre.com/swallow/

Fresh Takes Play Reading Series

Now in its fifth season, the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series is curated by WAM Associate Artistic Director Talya Kingston. The Fresh Takes Series is sponsored in part by No. 6 Depot Roastery and Café in West Stockbridge where our readings of Swallow, Honor Killing, and Escaped Alone will be presented at 3:30pm on select Sundays. Due to popular demand, and to allow more audience members from across Berkshire County to attend, The Virgin Trial will be presented at Shakespeare & Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre on Thursday, May 3, at 7:30pm, and  the reading of Pipeline will be presented in the auditorium at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown on Sunday, August 12, at 2:00pm.

Tickets are $25, which includes a post-show conversation and the opportunity to meet the cast and director. At No. Six Depot Roastery and Cafe refreshments will be available for purchase at the Café before the performance.

Please note all sales are final. No refunds available. Patrons may exchange tickets up to 48 hours before curtain– not including special event one-night performances. No refunds or exchanges for already discounted tickets.

For tickets and more information visit:

http://www.wamtheatre.com/fresh-takes-2018/

ABOUT THE CAST

STEPHANIE CARLSON (Anna) WAM Theatre: 24 Hour Theatre Festival  Elsewhere: Lungs (Full Disclosure Festival), Sweet Sweet Spirit (Academy of Music Northampton), A Christmas Carol (Hanover Theatre), Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, Turn of the Screw (Silverthorne Theater), The Little Foxes, Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play, The House of the Blue Leaves, The Importance of Being Earnest, Crimes of the Heart (New Century Theatre), Are You Ready My Sister?, How Do You Spell Hope? (Underground Railway Theater), The Odd Couple, First Night (Majestic Theater of West Springfield), Pulp (Boston Theatre Works),Company (Speakeasy Stage), Hollywood Arms (New England Repertory Company). Training: Bachelor of Arts, Hampshire College. Et Cetera: Stephanie is a  member of Northampton Playwright’s Lab. Her one-act play, Have You Seen Charlie will be performed at Greenfield Community College’s Locally Grown Festival, April 27-29.  She is a co-founder of Passport Theatre Company, with whom she will perform in Helsinki, Finland this May as Judith in Noel Coward’s Hay Fever. Stephanie is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. Online: www.stephcarlson.com.

© Sandra Costello 2017

KELSEY FLYNN (Sam) WAM Theatre: Debut. Elsewhere: August Company (Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It,  King Lear, Wrath of Mom, Gone), Hampshire Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Comedy of Errors), Paintbox Children’s Theater (Wizard of Oz, Pinnochio, Peter Pan,  Dr. Doolittle, Treasure Island), Majestic Theater (The Boys Next Door). NYC Theater:  As You Like It,  Macbeth. Radio/Recordings: morning show host, 100.9 WRNX, morning show host, 93.9 WRSI. Et cetera: Kelsey is an improv and stand-up comedian who performs around New England and New York City including the Gotham Comedy Club and Caroline’s. Online: kelseyflynn.com.

 

 

 

RACHEL SIEGEL (Rebecca)  WAM Theatre: co-produced her autobiographical one-woman show Special at the Unicorn Theatre in 2016.  Elsewhere: Britain’s Royal Court Theatre, Birmingham Rep (UK), New End Theatre (London), Williamstown Theatre Festival, Berkshire Theatre Group, Shakespeare & Company, Stageworks Hudson, and Berkshire Playwrights Lab. TV/Film: Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central, Wit for HBO Films, BBC Drama and SKY TV UK. Radio/Recordings: numerous audio books through Audible.com and BMA Studios. Training: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Awards: Recognized as a Best Actress of 2006 in the Berkshire Eagle for Enchanted April and won Best Performance 2003 in the Advocate for Under Milkwood. Et Cetera: Her short plays and comedic films have been seen at numerous festivals and venues, with her latest comedic film selected to premiere at the upcoming Women in Comedy festival, Boston, April 2018.  She is currently working on a series based on her one-woman show. Online: funnycryhappy.net

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: STEF SMITH

STEF SMITH (playwright) WAM Theatre: Debut. Plays: Roadkill, The Silence of Bees, Falling/Flying, Woman of the Year, Grey Matter, Cured, Smoke (and Mirrors), And the Beat Goes On, Remote, Swallow, Human Animals, Back to Back to Back, Girl in the Machine. Awards: The Scotsman’s Fringe First Award and the Scottish Arts Club Theatre Award for the Traverse Theatre production of Swallow, Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement, Herald Angel Award, Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award, Fringe First Award, Total Theatre Award for Innovation and the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Prize for Roadkill.  Et Cetera: Traverse Theatre Associate Artist, Royal Court Theatre’s National Writer’s Group and instructor for their young writers program, Recent participant in the Edinburgh International Book Festival Outriders program that sent five Scottish writers on five different journeys across the Americas.

 

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: TALYA KINGSTON

TALYA KINGSTON (director) WAM Theatre: Associate Artistic Director.  Elsewhere: Co-director of The Lonely Soldier Project (immersive testimonial theatre), director for Elemeno pea, The Metal Children, Collapse (Beer and a Play), Of Who We Used to Be (Hampshire College), The Mother of Modern Censorship (UMass), Dramaturgy: Necessary Targets, Write On! Teen Playwrights Series, My Hartford Teen Performance Ensemble Oral History Project (Hartford Stage), Helmet (New York Fringe Festival), Seriously..  What Did You Call Me? written and performed by Onawumi Jean Moss (Ko Festival), Gum, Christmas Carol, Bovver Boys, The Last Five Years, Life is a Dream, Late Style (UMass, Amherst).  Publications: Theater Journal, The Moving Voice, European Stages, Howlround and The Valley Advocate. Training: MFA University of Massachusetts, Directing Fellow at Julliard.

OUR SEASON SPONSORS

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, Frankie’s Ristorante Italiano, the Garden Gables Inn, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, International Schools Theatre Association, Interprint, Lee Bank, Maggie Barry, Massachusetts Cultural Council, J.H. Maxymillian, Inc., Methuselah Bar and Lounge, Natracare, No. Six Depot Roastery and Café, Onyx Specialty Papers, Inc., RB Design Co., Seth Rogovoy & The Rogovoy Report, The Rookwood Inn, The Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, The Rogovoy Report, 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, Lee Cultural Council, Lenox Cultural Council, New Marlborough Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Cultural Council of Northern Berkshires, Otis Cultural Council, Richmond Cultural Council, Sandisfield Cultural Council, and the Washington Cultural Council – local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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 $41,500 to thirteen 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

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