WAM Theatre and BRIDGE Announce Innovative Community Engagement Programming for “Pipeline”

LENOX, MA (October 7, 2019) – WAM Theatre and BRIDGE are delighted to announce a series of innovative community engagement programs surrounding their collaboration on PIPELINE by Dominique Morisseau and directed by Dawn M. Simmons.  The production will play from October 24 – November 9 at Shakespeare and Company’s Bernstein Theatre in Lenox. PIPELINE was recently announced by American Theatre Magazine as one of the ten most produced plays this season.

Additionally, PIPELINE is a co-production with The Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA, where the play will be performed from March 5-29, 2020.

PIPELINE is the third partnership between WAM and BRIDGE. WAM and BRIDGE first collaborated in 2013 on WAM’s production of EMILIE, connecting as two women-run organizations focused on activism and engaging BRIDGE’s Youth Leaders and Women To Women Group in pre- and post- play discussions as well as trips to the show. They then produced FACING OUR TRUTH, along with Berkshire based artist and educator Jamuna Yvette Sirker, in 2016 in commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the murder of Trayvon Martin, to address violence and the negative impact of racism on us all. And now, this year, they are partnering on PIPELINE, unpacking the bias in education that leads to the data-proven, systematically-designed engagement of Black families in the justice system—especially when a young Black male is involved.

 “BRIDGE is thrilled to collaborate with WAM Theatre again, this time on Dominique Morisseau’s brilliant play which is advancing a much-needed national conversation on the crisis of the Black family in the U.S.” said BRIDGE Founding Director and CEO Gwendolyn VanSant.

The WAM/BRIDGE programming, funded in part by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Brabson Foundation, includes:

  • A series of in-school workshops engaging the entire 8th Grade at Nessacus Regional Middle School in Dalton, co-created and taught by BRIDGE Educator Stephanie Wright and WAM Associate Artistic Director Talya Kingston.

  •  A PIPELINE Community Development workshop co-created and led by Gwendolyn VanSant and Lia Russell-Self that utilizes themes and characters from the play to engage people in ways they take action to shift their personal responsibility to community change.  This workshop will be presented at local community gatherings, the district-wide professional development days for teachers, and at MCLA.

  • A pre-show workshop for school and community groups to welcome them to the theatre and introduce them to the themes of the play, co-led by BRIDGE Educator JV Hampton-VanSant and WAM Associate Producing Director Lia Russell-Self.

  • Post-show discussions facilitated by members of BRIDGE, including Gwendolyn VanSant with local subject matter experts, production team, beneficiaries and speakers such as Dr. Tracey Benson, author of Unconscious Bias in Schools who will speak after the November 7th performance.

  • A free study guide available to download from the WAM and BRIDGE websites, designed by Talya Kingston and Gwendolyn VanSant and distributed hard copies free of charge to all school and college students attending the production. At the time of this press release, over 300 Berkshire County students will see the production.

  • An important component of the partnership is the welcoming and introduction for the artists and production teams to create a sense of engagement and place while they are here in the Berkshires . Gwendolyn VanSant and JV Hampton- VanSant participated in auditions and attended rehearsals and the PIPELINE beneficiaries, Harmony Homestead and Women of Color Color Giving Circle, along with BRIDGE Towards Racial Justice activists and allies will provide additional meals and meetings to support the guest artists while they are in the Berkshires performing this play.

“Through the arts, we look forward to creating more local opportunities and access for authentic discussion around the stark ethnic disparities that exist for Black families as we identify solutions through activism for all educators, parents and students,” Gwendolyn VanSant explained. “PIPELINE helps us enter these conversations with courage.”

In the play, Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher is committed to her students, and desperate to give her only son opportunities her students will never have.  When a controversial incident in his upstate private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent. PIPELINE is Dominique Morisseau’s beautiful and deeply moving story of a mother’s fight to give her son a future without turning her back on the community that made him who he is.

“Through the story of one young Black student’s success and challenges, we share the experience of a Black family facing long-standing cultural and systemic barriers.” explains VanSant, “The school to prison ‘pipeline’ affects not only the poor; the constant pressure and trauma of racism can touch any family at any moment.”

IN-SCHOOL WORKSHOPS:

The in-school workshop series will provide the 8th grade students of Nessacus Regional Middle School with two classes prior to coming to the performance and one afterwards.  These classes will introduce the students to concepts of racial bias, micro and macro aggressions, and stereotyping. Discussion and creative drama techniques will provide them with strategies to embrace individual responsibility and to facilitate community change.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS

PIPELINE Community Development workshops will be presented in multiple professional development and public events across Berkshire County. This project had its debut at BRIDGE’s Race Amity Day on the Green in Lee this past June and will be presented at up-coming district-wide teacher professional development days to extend the themes and power of PIPELINE out of the theatre.

PRE-SHOW WORKSHOP

The pre-show workshop at the theatre, co-led by Lia Russell-Self and JV Hampton-VanSant will engage students personally with the themes of the play, as well as the technical side of theatre. “Often, in the theatre, we are eager to take on shows that are asking smart questions, but then we leave our audiences alone with their personal responses to the questions raised,” Russell-Self explained. “In this outreach model, we are asking our audience to immediately engage with the themes of the show through devised theatre and social justice practices. It’s important to have these stories live communally beyond the theatre in order to engender civic dialogue around the tough questions PIPELINE raises.”

POST-SHOW CONVERSATION SERIES

Every performance will be followed by a post show discussion. Curated by Gwendolyn VanSant and facilitated by members of BRIDGE, the post show conversations will range from speaking with the artists involved in the production to speakers such as Brian House and Andrea Harrington from the Berkshire District Attorney’s office to Dr. Tracey Benson, author of Unconscious Bias in Schools who will speak after the November 7th performance. Local subject matter experts, production team, beneficiaries and other speakers will participate.

BENEFICIARY SELECTION PROCESS

In keeping with its double philanthropic mission, WAM Theatre will be donating a portion of the box office proceeds from PIPELINE to its 18th and 19th beneficiaries – the Harmony Homestead & Wholeness Center and the Women of Color Giving Circle. As part of the partnership with BRIDGE, a member of the BRIDGE team, Stephanie Wright, joined the WAM Beneficiary Committee in the process for selecting these two beneficiaries. To date the company has donated more than $65,700 to 17 local and global organizations taking action for women and girls in areas such as girls education, teen pregnancy prevention, sexual trafficking awareness, midwife training and more.

For more information on WAM Theatre and PIPELINE, visit: wamtheatre.com/pipeline/

For more information on BRIDGE, visit: www.multiculturalbridge.org/

For more information on The Nora at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA, visit: https://www.centralsquaretheater.org/about/the-nora-theatre-company/

AT A GLANCE

PIPELINE
by Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons
Presented at Shakespeare & Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre
70 Kemble St, Lenox, MA

https://www.wamtheatre.com/pipeline/

A powerful and thought-provoking examination of race, class, and the American education system

Featuring Hubens “Bobby” Cius, Barbara Douglass, Alexandria Danielle King, James Ricardo Milord, Sandra Seoane-Serí, and Kevin Craig West

Shelley Barish, Scenic Designer
Michaela Carmelo Bocchino, Lighting Designer
Greg Smith, Sound Designer
Elizabeth Rocha, Costume Designer
JV Hampton Van Sant, Assistant Costume Designer
John ADEkoje, Projection Designer
Lauren Burke, Stage Manager

Presented in Partnership with Multicultural BRIDGE

Co-produced with The Nora at Central Square Theatre, Cambridge MA

In keeping with WAM’s philanthropic mission, a portion of box office proceeds will be donated to the Harmony Homestead & Wholeness Center and the Women of Color Giving Circle.

Mature language. Recommended for ages 13+

Preview tickets to the October 24 & 25 performances are $10-$30. Tickets to all other performances start at $30. In celebration of WAM’s 10th Anniversary Season WAM will offer ten $10 tickets at every single Mainstage performance during the 2019 season on a first-come, first-served basis.

No Berkshire, Senior, Teacher or Military Discount

Student tickets are available for $15 each and may be purchased over the phone at 413-637-3353 or in person at the Shakespeare & Company Box Office. Student tickets are not available for purchase online.

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. Discounts are not available on the 10th anniversary $10 discounted tickets in Section D.

PERFORMANCES

Thursday, October 24 at 7:30pm (Preview)

Friday, October 25 at 12:30pm (Student Matinee, limited seats available to the public)

Friday, October 25 7:30p (Preview)

Saturday, October 26 at 7:30pm (Opening)

Sunday, October 27 at 2pm

Wednesday, October 30 at 12:30pm (Student Matinee, limited seats available to the public)

Thursday, October 31 at 7:30pm

Friday, November 1 at 7:30pm

Saturday, November 2 at 7:30pm

Sunday, November 3 at 2pm

 

Monday, November 4 at 12:30pm (Student Matinee, limited seats available to the public)

Thursday, November 7 at 7:30pm

Friday, November 8 at 7:30pm

Saturday, November 9 at 2pm

Saturday, November 9 at 7:30pm

ABOUT BRIDGE

BRIDGE is a grassroots organization dedicated to catalyzing change and integration through promoting mutual respect and understanding.

Since 2007,  BRIDGE’s mission has been “promoting mutual understanding and respect among diverse groups serving as a resource to both local institutions and the community at large. We serve as catalysts for change and integration through collaboration, education, training, dialogue, fellowship and advocacy.” Our core values are accountability, celebration, learning, collaboration, and equity.

Through a 360 degree perspective on community and civic participation, BRIDGE has designed a holistic approach to community and public health. BRIDGE’s goal is to impact hearts, minds and behaviors that result in positive cultural shifts and systemic changes in policy, law and practice towards a more just, safe and equitable society.

Services include access to cultural literacy and cultural competence training; diversity equity and inclusion consulting, facilitation; youth leadership; multicultural education; parent engagement and education; civil rights and social justice forums and advocacy with diverse groups. We facilitate cultural competence programming in schools and institutions to promote equity and to educate on systemic racism and cultural barriers, and are designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a vendor in the Supplier Diversity Program in the spirit of the Affirmative Market Campaign.

For more information, www.multiculturalbridge.org

ABOUT CENTRAL SQUARE THEATER

Central Square Theater (CST) is a state-of-the-art theatrical arts facility where audiences find, under one roof, the distinctive repertoires of two award-winning, professional companies, Underground Railway Theater (URT) and The Nora Theatre Company (The Nora), as well as collaborative projects drawing on their creative synergy.

Central Square Theater is a  cultural anchor in the community — schools, families, and community groups benefit from outreach and educational programs, and the local economy gets a boost from the nearly 30,000 audience members that visit CST each season and enjoy the multicultural, multi-generational, urban environment of Central Square, Cambridge.

As the first permanent home for both theater companies, Central Square Theater is a vibrant hub of theatrical, educational, and social activity, where artists and audiences come together to create theater vital to the community. The theater is dedicated to providing affordable ticket prices for underserved communities and offers free or discounted tickets to many local non-profit organizations.

For more information, https://www.centralsquaretheater.org

WAM 10th Anniversary Sponsors

WAM’s 2019 sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Annie Selke, BayState Financial, Berkshire Gas, Berkshire Hand to Shoulder Center, Berkshire Magazine, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, Blue Q, Blue Spark Financial, Brabson Library & Educational Foundation, Canyon Ranch, Chez Nous, Custom Business Solutions, Dr, Jay Wise, DDS and Dr. Casey Jones, DMD, The Dylandale Foundation, Frankie’s Ristorante Italiano, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Haven Cafe and Bakery, Health Professional Coaching, Heller & Robbins, Interprint, J.H. Maxymillian, Inc., Lee Bank, Maggie Barry, New England Public Radio (NEPR), Massachusetts Cultural Council, Only in My Dreams Events, Onyx Specialty Papers, OUTPOST, RB Design Co., The Rogovoy Report, The Rookwood Inn, Salisbury Bank, T Square Design Studio, Toole Insurance, and a. von schlegell & co.

WAM Theatre is also supported in part by grants from the Alford-Egremont Cultural Council, Brabson Foundation, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Cultural Council of Northern Berkshires, Hinsdale-Peru Cultural Council, Lenox Cultural Council, New Marlborough Cultural Council, Otis Cultural Council, Richmond Cultural Council, Sandisfield Cultural Council, Sheffield Cultural Council, Washington Cultural Council, West Stockbridge Cultural Council– local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

LADY RANDY was sponsored in part by an anonymous donor and PIPELINE is sponsored in part by Carolyn Butler.

ABOUT WAM THEATRE

WAM Theatre is a professional theatre company based in Berkshire County, MA, that operates at the intersection of arts and activism. WAM creates theatre for gender equity and has a vision of theatre as philanthropy.

In fulfillment of its philanthropic mission, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from their Mainstage productions to carefully selected beneficiaries. Since WAM’s founding in 2010, they have donated more than $65,700 to 17 local and global organizations taking action for gender equity in areas such as girls education, teen pregnancy prevention, sexual trafficking awareness, midwife training, and more.

In addition to Mainstage productions and special events, WAM’s activities include innovative community engagement programs and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. To date, WAM has provided paid work to more than 400 theatre artists, the majority of whom are female-identifying.

As a civic organization that embraces intersectional feminism (feminism that acknowledges how multiple forms of discrimination overlap), WAM understands that to address one piece of systemic discrimination means we have to address them all. This is on-going personal and professional work at WAM for the staff and board.

WAM Theatre has been widely recognized for having a positive impact on cultural and community development in the region. WAM is the recipient of the Creative Economy Standout Berkshire Trendsetter Award and previously, was named Outstanding Philanthropy Corporation of the Year by the Western MA Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Kristen van Ginhoven, WAM’s Producing Artistic Director, was honored by the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association (BTCA) with the prestigious Larry Murray Award, presented at the discretion of the BTCA Board to a person or theatre project that advances social, political, or community issues in Berkshire County.

For more information, visit www.WAMTheatre.com

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