Director and Actors Return for WAM Reading of “Last Wife” Sequel, “The Virgin Trial”

LENOX, MA (April 16, 2018) –  On Thursday, May 3, at 7:30pm, WAM Theatre will present a reading of The Virgin Trial by Kate Hennig, directed by Kelly Galvin, at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at Shakespeare & Company.

Kate Hennig continues her Tudor Queens Trilogy with a sequel to The Last Wife that reunites the director and a few of the cast members from WAM’s hit 2017 production of that play, including David Joseph and Alicia Piemme Nelson, who will reprise their roles as Tom and Bess. The Virgin Trial cleverly explores victim-shaming, sexual consent, and the extraordinary abilities of girls who are becoming women, as Hennig reimagines the scandalous and little-known story of Elizabeth the First, before she was Queen.

“I’m very excited to be returning to playing Bess. I think she’s intelligent and spunky and vivacious. Playing her is such a thrill and it’s going to be so great to do that again, “ Nelson said. “And I’m so excited to be working Kelly Galvin and David Joseph again, two people who I love and who put a big smile on my face every day.”

“There are extraordinary teenage girls. More than we acknowledge. Certainly more than history has ever taken the opportunity to credit,” Hennig observed. “As a teenager, Elizabeth the first forged a path which many young women have followed, creating her own definition of who she was in spite of a culture that wished to put her into a neat and tidy box of rules, hormones, fashions, and protocol. Even her epoch could not contain her. My thanks to WAM and their ongoing mission to tell the stories of girls and women, and the lively theatre audience in the Berkshires who are avidly supporting them.”

“After working on The Last Wife, I’m excited to come home to WAM and revisit these fascinating characters with Alicia Piemme Nelson, David Joseph, and the rest of this great cast,” Galvin chimed in. “Kate Hennig has written the story of Elizabeth’s trial with her trademark wit, sexiness, and psychological insight. It’s especially satisfying to explore Elizabeth’s journey as she continues to discover her power and craft her persona as Queen.”

In addition to Nelson and Joseph, the cast features MaConnia Chesser as Ashley, Kristen Anne Ferraro as Eleanor (who was the understudy to Kate and Mary in The Last Wife), Thom Garvey as Ted, Lia Russell Self as Mary, and Berkshire favorite Ryan Winkles as Maurice.

Seating is limited. Tickets are $25, which includes a post-show conversation and the opportunity to meet the cast and director.

In June the 2018 Fresh Takes Series returns to No. 6 Depot Roastery and Café in West Stockbridge for a reading of Honor Killing by Sarah Bierstock, directed by Molly Merrihew, curator of last year’s Fresh Takes Series. In this play, Allisyn, an American reporter for the New York Times, heads to Pakistan to cover the honor killing of a young woman. Denied entrance, she conducts her investigation remotely from Dubai. Through a series of cultural collisions, candid interviews, and dangerous encounters, she learns the horrifying details of this murder.  These circumstances cause Allisyn to re-examine troubling details of her own past. One culture mirrors the other, in a play that asks vital questions about forgiveness, self-worth, and justice.


May 3
Fresh Takes Play Reading
The Virgin Trial

by Kate Hennig
directed by Kelly Galvin
Thursday, May 3 at 7:30pm – talkback following
at Shakespeare & Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre

70 Kemble Street, Lenox MA
Tickets: $25
featuring MaConnia Chesser, Kristen Anne Ferraro, Thom Garvey, David Joseph, Alicia Piemme Nelson, Lia Russell Self, and Ryan Winkles

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 WAM’s readings of 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:


MACONNIA CHESSER (Ashley) WAM Theatre: The Flora and Fauna, Grand Concourse (Fresh Takes: Play Reading Series), The Revolutionists (reading/co-production with Chester Theatre). Elsewhere: Shakespeare & Company (company member), Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Tennessee Shakespeare Company, Totem Pole Playhouse, The Kennedy Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre, York Shakespeare, NJ Repertory (company member), Theater Alliance, African Continuum Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Folger Theatre. Film & TV: The Wire, Nothing But the Truth, cigarettes for breakfast, Ghosts of Hamilton Street, Diseasels. Training: Shakespeare & Company, National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, Alcorn State University. Awards: Helen Hayes nomination – Outstanding Ensemble (Insurrection).

KRISTEN ANNE FERRARO (Eleanor) WAM Theatre: Understudy, Katherine/Mary, The Last Wife. Elsewhere: Past favorite roles include, To Kill a Mockingbird: Scout (National Tour), Falsettoland: Jason, Me and My Girl: Sally, My Fair Lady: Eliza, Singin’ in the Rain: Lina, The Philadelphia Story: Tracy, The Code Breaker: Bernice, Hamlet: Ophelia, Annie Get Your Gun: Dolly, Graceland: Rootie. Film/TV: Saturday Night Live, She Came From the Woods, Professor Marsten and The Wonder Woman, The Catcher Was a Spy, Daddy’s Home 2, The Burning Woman. Training: The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater, Bay Path University. Awards: New England CTA, Best Actress: Artichoke, Best Supporting Actress, Graceland. Et cetera: Delighted to work on another brilliant piece by Kate Hennig and with WAM, Kelly, Kristen and the entire cast. Online:

THOM GARVEY (Ted) WAM Theatre: Debut. Elsewhere: Playmaker’s Repertory: Phillip Orphans, Tournel A Flea in Her Ear, Vladimir, Waiting for Godot (understudy), Flute/Thisby A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antonio The Marriage of Figaro, Smirnov (The Boor). NYC Theater:Jack The Importance of Being Earnest, Costard Love’s Labour’s Lost, Sir Lucius O’Trigger The Rivals. TV: Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, Law and Order: SVU, Loving. Directing: Blade to the Heat, Getting Out, The Elephant Man, Lonestar/Laundry and Bourbon, All in the Timing, The Sorrows of Stephen. Teaching: NYU,The New School, Baruch College, The Strasberg Institute. Training: MFA U-North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  Member: AEA, SAG-AFTRA.

DAVID JOSEPH (Thom) WAM Theatre: The Last Wife. Elsewhere: David has been at Shakespeare & Company for twelve seasons, past roles include: The Wharton Comedies, George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Lysander in A Midsummer Nights 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 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.

ALICIA PIEMME NELSON (Bess) WAM Theatre: The Last Wife. Elsewhere: Buck Hill Productions (Measure for Measure, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale), Bay Area Children’s Theatre (Judy Moody & Stink, 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). Training: BFA Acting – Boston University, Physical Theatre/Clowning – Accademia dell’Arte. Awards: Theatre Bay Area Award – Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role In a Musical (2017). Online:

LIA RUSSELL SELF (Mary) WAM Theatre: Teaching Artist Assistant for WAM’s Girls Ensemble Spring 2017 and Teaching Artist for Education programs for Emilie and The Last Wife. Assistant Director, The Last Wife. Elsewhere: After graduating with a BA in Theatre and Creative Writing from Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Lia has explored theatre and film throughout New England with companies such as Hubbard Hall (Cambridge, NY), Riverwolf Productions (Amherst, MA), The Berkshire Fringe (Pittsfield, MA), and Plays in Progress (Hudson, NY), most recently directing sixth and seventh graders in The Tempest. A trained physical actor and avid writer, Lia is also a co-founder of 84 Productions, an all-arts company dedicated to intersectionality.

RYAN WINKLES (Maurice) WAM Theatre: The Old Mezzo (Joe); Fresh Takes readings: Photograph 51, Blue Stockings, The Tall Girls. Elsewhere: Shakespeare & Company: Henry V (Henry V), It’s a Wonderful Life (Jazzbo), Complete Works(Ryan), Mother Courage (Swiss Cheese), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Dull), The Tempest (Ferdinand), King Lear (Edgar), As You Like It (Silvius), Hound of the Baskervilles (Sir Henry), Irma Vep (Jane/Lord Edgar), The Learned Ladies (Trissotin), Richard III (Tyrrel/1st Murderer), Twelfth Night (Sir Andrew), Othello (Roderigo), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Flute), Antony & Cleopatra (Pompey/Eros), Merry Wives (Fenton), Julius Caesar NE Tour (Cassius), Macbeth NE Tour (Banquo). Regional: Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse: Visitors (Stephen); Elements Theatre Company: Merchant of Venice (Bassanio); Ark Theatre Company: Babylon Revisited (Lincoln); Madison Rep: Muskie Love (Claude); Milwaukee Chamber Theatre: Christmas Memory (Buddy), Misalliance (Bentley); Mrs Packard (Male Witnesses) . Film/TV: Doug Trumbull’s UFOTOG; Time Traveling Bong (Comedy Central); Paper Birds (French Press Films). Training: Ryan holds a BA from FSU, an MFA from UW-Madison, and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.


WAM Theatre: The Last Wife. 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.


WAM Theatre: Artistic Associate (2012-2014), The Last Wife, Emilie remount (Associate Director), Blue Stockings reading, Fresh Takes 2014 (Curator/Producer). Elsewhere: Shakespeare & Company (Love’s Labor’s Lost (upcoming)), The Clean House reading, Bankside Preludes), Southwest Shakespeare (Photograph 51), Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (Memorial), The Theater at Woodshill (Much Ado About Nothing), Boston University (The Cherry Orchard, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Duchess of Malfi, The Tall Girls). Assistantships: Asolo Rep, Bedlam, Orlando Shakespeare, Shakespeare & Company. Observership: Huntington Theatre. Artistic Development & Directing Internship: Arena Stage. Awards: 2018 Asolo Repertory Theatre Directing Fellow. Training: MFA, Boston University. BA, Wellesley College.


Our 2018 sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Annie Selke, 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., 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.


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


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