LENOX, MA (July 30, 2018) – It was a picture perfect Berkshire evening on Wednesday, July 25, as WAM Theatre supporters packed the bucolic grounds of the Berkshire Equestrian Center in Richmond. They celebrated and supported the company’s ninth season at WAM’s sold-out Midsummer Cocktail Party Benefit, hosted by Berkshire favorite Ty Allan Jackson.
The full house was in a great mood enjoying the tasty hors d’oeuvres catered by SoMa and the delicious apple cider donuts from neighboring Hilltop Orchards. Many actors and artists who have worked with WAM over the years mingled with the guests, including Alexander Sovronsky, who provided live music. Live and silent auctions added to the fun, in an event coordinated by Only In My Dreams Events.
The event raised more than $38,000 for WAM’s Education programs and the company’s upcoming fall production of Ann by Holland Taylor, starring Emmy-award winning actress Jayne Atkinson, and directed by WAM Artistic Director, Kristen van Ginhoven.
The highlight of the evening was the premiere of WAM’s 2018 Girls Ensemble’s new devised theatre piece, Seeking Justice. The 12 participants of this year’s cohort received a standing ovation for their performance. Audience members were delighted to hear that, thanks to WAM’s education sponsors, Girls Ensemble was a paying summer job for the participants.
Gala participants were the first to learn the identity of the non-profits that will benefit from WAM’s fall production of Ann. In keeping with its double philanthropic mission, WAM Theatre will be donating 25% of the box office proceeds from Ann to its 14th and 15th beneficiaries, The Denise Kaley Fund and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ 2018 Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI).
The 2018 beneficiaries were chosen after a rigorous selection process, including a request for proposals and site visits, overseen by a committee at WAM consisting of Kristen van Ginhoven, Margaret Fluhr (WAM Volunteer), Wendy Healey (WAM Board of Directors), and Lia Russell-Self (WAM Artist).
The Denise Kaley Fund stands alone in their mission to help women living with cancer in Berkshire County pay for the cost of life’s necessities as they undergo treatment and heal: heating oil, groceries, car payments and repairs, rent, mortgage payments, babysitting and medical expenses not covered by insurance, to name just a few. WAM’s donation will provide emergency grants for women with cancer in Berkshire County. The founders of the Denise Kaley Fund, Barbara Bonner, Ellen Boyd, and Beth Rose, were on hand to speak on behalf of the Fund.
Since 1997, the Women’s Fund has been supporting women and girls in the four counties of western Mass through grant making and leadership programs. Their Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact, or LIPPI, is a non-partisan initiative that provides women with the tools, mentors, and confidence they need to become our region’s community leaders and elected officials. LIPPI trains women in the nuts and bolts of impacting policy from a citizen perspective, and develops leadership confidence through 11 intensive workshops held in over 10 months. WAM’s donation will provide scholarships for Berkshire participants in the 2018 LIPPI cohort. LIPPI alumna Gwendolyn Hampton Van Sant was on hand at the gala to share her inspiring story of how the program impacted her work, and how WAM’s donation will make a difference.
About The Denise Kaley Fund
The Denise Kaley Fund for Berkshire Women with Cancer, administered through the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, supports the day-to-day living expenses of those living with cancer and have financial need. The fund covers the costs of transportation, housing, food, utilities, child care, insurance payments or anything that can help ease the struggles of women with cancer and allow them to focus on healing. The Denise Kaley Fund is endowed so that its support can continue annually and grow. The fund works hand-in-hand with social service agencies throughout the county so that support is offered exactly when and where it can do the most good.
Since 1997, the Women’s Fund has been supporting women and girls in the four counties of western Mass through grant making and leadership programs. Their Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact, or LIPPI, is a non-partisan initiative that provides women with the tools, mentors, and confidence they need to become our region’s community leaders and elected officials. LIPPI trains women in the nuts and bolts of impacting policy from a citizen perspective, and develops leadership confidence through 11 intensive workshops held in over 10 months.
About WAM’s fall production of Ann
A one woman tour-de-force, Ann is a hilarious and spirited portrait of Ann Richards, legendary Governor of Texas. Written by award-winning actress and writer Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men), Ann is an inspiring play that brings us face to face with the complex, colorful, and captivating character, with a personality bigger than the state she governed. In a year when so many women are running for office across all platforms, this play resonates deeply with our current climate.
Performances of Ann are scheduled for October 19-28, 2018, at Shakespeare & Company’s Tina Packer Playhouse, 70 Kemble St, Lenox, MA. The brief August run at the Dorset Theatre Festival is nearly sold out, but tickets are now on sale for the October performances in Lenox. Preview tickets for the October 19 performance at 7:30pm are $25 & $30. Tickets for the rest of the run start at $30. Mark your calendars because this is a production you will not want to miss! For more information on WAM Theatre and Ann, visit: wamtheatre.com/ann
by Holland Taylor
Starring Jayne Atkinson
October 19-28, 2018
at Shakespeare & Company’s Tina Packer Playhouse
70 Kemble St, Lenox, MA
Director: Kristen van Ginhoven
Set Design: Juliana von Haubrich
Costume Design: Jess Goldstein
Lighting Design: Andi Lyons
Sound Design: M. L. Dogg
Wig Design: Paul Huntley
Stage Manager: Emely Zepeda
About the Playwright: Holland Taylor
Holland Taylor took Broadway by storm as writer and star of Ann, a one-woman show about the late Texas Governor Ann Richards, which resulted in rave reviews, a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress, and a filmed version of the 2016 production in which Holland starred at ZACH Theatre in Austin, Texas, bringing Governor Richards back home. The New Yorker has called Holland Taylor “the first vaudeville Gentile we ever saw.” Her New York stage performances include Bess in Breakfast with Les and Bess, as well as the original productions of Butley, opposite Alan Bates, and A.R. Gurney’s The Cocktail Hour. She still holds her head high after taking over for Eve Arden, opening the historic flop Moose Murders. In Los Angeles she has performed in Kindertransport, and played opposite Christopher Lloyd in Yasmina Reza’s The Unexpected Man at the Geffen. She has worked extensively in film and television, appearing in Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile, To Die For, Next Stop Wonderland, One Fine Day, George of the Jungle, The Truman Show, Happy Accidents, Spy Kids (2 & 3), Keeping the Faith, Legally Blonde, and Baby Mama, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. On television, Holland has been nominated for an Emmy seven times, winning Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for the sexually popular Judge Roberta Kittleson on The Practice. Among her numerous series starring roles: The Powers that Be, Norman Lear’s short-lived but highly acclaimed political satire; Bosom Buddies, with Tom Hanks; and, of course, the juggernaut, Two and a Half Men, with her dear boys: Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and number 3 son, Ashton Kutcher. She has performed narrations for the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Esa-Pekka Salonen and John Adams, and narrated the Harry Potter Suite for John Williams at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Following her Broadway run in Ann, Holland appeared in Kepler’s Dream, an inspiring film for a young audience, and in New York she played another character who never leaves the stage and talks a LOT in Pulitzer prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire’s dark comedy Ripcord, at the Manhattan Theatre Club.
About the Director: Kristen van Ginhoven
WAM Theatre: The Bakelite Masterpiece, 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 Elsewhere: Disgraced, I and You (Chester Theatre), Waxworks (Williams College), 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: The 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 a 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 and is a member of the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction at the Stratford Festival of Canada. Kristen is the co-founder and Artistic Director of WAM Theatre. Website: www.WAMTheatre.com
About Jayne Atkinson
Jayne Atkinson has enjoyed a long and varied career as an actress, director, and producer. A graduate of Northwestern University and Yale Drama School, she has appeared in regional theatre, off-Broadway, and Broadway.
Jayne made her Broadway debut in a revival production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Other Broadway credits include The Rainmaker (Tony nomination), Our Town with Paul Newman, Enchanted April (Tony nomination, Drama Desk nomination; Outer Critics Circle Award) and Blithe Spirit with the wonderful Angela Lansbury . She has also appeared off-Broadway in a number of productions, including The Art of Success (Drama Desk nomination) and The Skriker (Drama Desk nomination).
Many may recognize Jayne from her film and television roles. Her feature film credits include Free Willy 1&2, The Village and Syriana. On television she is known for her guest appearances on the hit series The X-Files, Gossip Girl, Chicago Med and The Good Wife, among others. As a recurring character, she has played Karen Hayes on the award-winning 24, Erin Strauss on Criminal Minds, Secretary of State Catherine Durant on the popular Netflix Series House of Cards and most recently she can be seen opposite Tea Leoni as Vice President Teresa Hurst on Madam Secretary.
Directing and producing credits include benefit productions of Motherhood Out Loud and Can You Hear Me, Baby?, for WAM Theatre and the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. She also runs Jadana Productions, which specializes in entertainment development. Her other areas of expertise include coaching and teaching. In her spare time, she promotes women’s causes, travels, participates in fundraisers. She is married to actor Michel Gill. Together they have one son.
OUR SEASON SPONSORS
Our 2018 sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Annie Selke, Baystate Financial, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Berkshire Hand to Shoulder Center, Berkshire Magazine, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, Blue Q, Brabson Library & Educational Foundation, Canyon Ranch, The Charles H. Hall Foundation, CWM Retirement Plan Services LLC, Custom Business Solutions, Dr. Jay Wise, DDS and Dr. Casey Jones, DMD, The Dylandale Foundation, The Feigenbaum Foundation, Frankie’s Ristorante Italiano, the Garden Gables Inn, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Health Professional Counseling, 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, RB Design Co., The Rogovoy Report, 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.
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