While this is the first time you are hearing about it, Berkshires 4Theatre, has been around for a couple of years. The difference is it has just gone public with a new web page, a unified message, and a special “passport” promotion to encourage residents and visitors to get familiar with the four major Berkshire theatre companies.
If awards are any indication, the inclusion of so many local people and productions in the three major Broadway and Off Broadway nominations show the enormous impact Berkshire theatre is having on the national scene.
It is a perfect time, as the 2011 season prepares to wow locals and visitors alike, to launch this new collaborative platform. So today, Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company and Williamstown Theatre Festival — announced the Berkshires 4Theatre Passport Program. The collaboration promotes a unified message that the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts is a place for outstanding theatre, and one that offers a depth of programming options for theatre-lovers from all over who want to see new works and classics of a high production quality in a beautiful rural setting with many local attractions.
The new initiative launches this May in time for the 2011 summer season. The Berkshires 4Theatre Passport Program encourages theatre-goers to enjoy main stage performances at all four theatres ranging from classic musicals from the Broadway canon to new musicals, world premieres from up-and-coming playwrights and everything in between.
Single ticket buyers who purchase tickets to and attend three main stage shows at three different theatres can then see a fourth show at any theatre for free. Local residents and visitors to the Berkshires will learn about the program through the local distribution of bright orange printed passports. Passports will be seen at all key social spots and tourist centers where they may be picked up and then stamped at box offices.
Since 2009 when it launched its first initiative, Berkshires 4Theatre has been working to increase awareness of the outstanding theatre being produced in the Berkshires as well as the high-quality experiences that are available to patrons and large groups touring Western Massachusetts. Through its efforts, the group aims to encourage new audience development by enticing regional and national visitors to travel to the Berkshires as a theatre destination.
For more information, visit http://theaterintheberkshires.com/.
“The Berkshires 4Theatre Initiative is an exciting collaboration that will give our theatre audiences an opportunity to see more shows for less money.” “The Berkshires is a theatre lover’s dream. Hopefully, our new program will get more people to come, enjoy and reap the benefits of four world-class theatres performing in one of America’s great cultural destinations.” Julianne Boyd, Artistic Director – Barrington Stage Company
“The Berkshires have been a home for culture for over 150 years. From the writings of Edith Wharton to the sculpture of Daniel Chester French to the theatre artists that come here every summer, these picturesque hills have provided a home for the country’s best artists. There is something special here and we are the custodians of that spirit. This collaboration represents the best that the Berkshires has to offer.” “Over the last several years, the world has changed at a fundamental level. Only those organizations that are willing to grow, adapt and change can hope to prosper today. By partnering with such fine theatrical organizations, we can all provide more services to our audiences while also acting responsibly both artistically and financially. We are proud to be a part of Berkshires 4Theatre.” Kate Maguire, Artistic Director – Berkshire Theatre Festival-Colonial Theater
“Theatre is all about collaboration, and we are thrilled to be working together with our neighbors to create this fantastic program. I truly believe it’s important that our audiences understand how we’re all working together to create a new energy and spirit of partnership between our theaters. This endeavor will hopefully inspire patrons to see even more of the great shows happening at each of the Berkshires 4Theatre organizations this summer.” Tony Simotes, Artistic Director – Shakespeare & Company
“The Berkshires is a cultural destination, but there is no other region in the country that can boast of such a wealth of great theater, and in such a beautiful area.” “I’m happy that WTF can be part of the Berkshires 4Theatre initiative. All four of these theaters do such distinctive work which is recognized not only locally but throughout the national theater community. It’s great that we have developed a program which incentivizes audiences to become familiar with all of our work.” Jenny Gersten, Artistic Director – Williamstown Theatre Festival
Accolades and Awards for each theatre
Barrington Stage Company: In 2004, BSC developed, workshopped and premiered William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which took Broadway by storm in 2005, capturing two Tony Awards (for Best Book and Best Featured Actor), Three Drama Desk Awards and numerous other awards. In 2009, Mark St. Germain’s Freud’s Last Session was a tremendous success with both critics and audiences, becoming the longest running play in BSC’s history. Now playing at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater, the production is the longest running play of the current Off-Broadway season.
Barrington Stage was named “Best Theater Company” in 2009 and “Best Theatre Company (Developmental)” in 2010 in Metroland’s “Best of the Capital Region.” In 2007 Barrington Stage Company’s Playwright Mentoring Project for at-risk youth received the national Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the nation’s highest honor for after school programs.
Berkshire Theatre Festival: BTF is the oldest continually producing Arts Venue in Berkshire County; Third oldest Regional Theatre in the United States; “1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts” Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism; “Best Theater – Classics” Metroland’s Best of the Capital Region; National Register of Historic Places; Listed in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die; Member – National Trust.
Shakespeare & Company: Cited by The Wall Street Journal as “the most consistently impressive summer drama festival in America,” and by The Boston Globe as “one of the best troupes in Massachusetts,” Shakespeare & Company prides itself on performing Shakespeare’s text with unsurpassed clarity, using techniques developed in its internationally-acclaimed Center for Actor Training. Shakespeare & Company’s Education Program has been honored with a 2005 Commonwealth Award, a 2006 Coming Up Taller Award, and just recently, a Gold Star Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in March 2011.
Williamstown Theatre Festival: For 57 years, the Williamstown Theatre Festival has been a leader in the American theatre, providing a vibrant artistic home for the nation’s top established and emerging theatre artists. In 2002, the Festival was honored with the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in recognition of a “continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theatre nationally.” To date, WTF is the only summer theatre and the only theatre located in a rural area to have received this honor.
Earlier this year, WTF was honored with the Commonwealth Award for Achievement, becoming the first theatre company to receive this recognition. Throughout its history, the Festival has seen nine of its productions move to Broadway, 31 to off-Broadway theaters, one to PBS, one to HBO, and countless others to regional theaters around the nation.
SUMMARY OF PARTICIPATING THEATRES:
Barrington Stage Company – www.barringtonstageco.org
30 Union Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201
Barrington Stage Company, a professional award-winning Equity regional theatre located in the heart of the Berkshires in Pittsfield, MA, was co-founded in 1995 by Artistic Director Julianne Boyd. Barrington Stage’s mission is three-fold: to present top-notch, compelling work; to develop new plays and musicals; and to find fresh, bold ways to bring new audiences into the theatre—especially young people. In July 2005 BSC purchased a 1912 vaudeville theatre in downtown Pittsfield and opened its doors to a completely renovated 520-seat state-of-the art theatre in June 2007. Together with other cultural institutions, BSC has become an integral part of downtown Pittsfield’s economic revitalization. In 2009 the Massachusetts Cultural Council presented a “Creative Community” Commonwealth Award to the City of Pittsfield in recognition of its efforts to boost the creative economy in Massachusetts.
Berkshire Theatre Festival/ The Colonial Theatre – www.berkshiretheatre.org
6 East Street, Stockbridge MA 01262
The Colonial Theatre, founded in 1903, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, are two of the oldest cultural organizations in the Berkshires. Having united in November of 2010 under the helm of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, these two institutions are providing the Berkshires and beyond with the finest in live theatre, music, dance and the visual arts on three stages in Stockbridge, MA and Pittsfield, MA. The Fitzpatrick Main Stage (408 seats), cataloged by the National Register of Historic Places, was originally designed and built by Stanford White as the Stockbridge Casino in 1888. The intimate Unicorn Theatre (122 seats) is a home for emerging artists and new theatrical ideas. The Colonial in Pittsfield (800 seats) re-opened in August of 2006, following a $21 million restoration, and boasts pristine acoustics, classic gilded age architecture and state-of-the-art technical systems. Together they serve over 100,000 patrons per year and reach over 10,000 students through their educational and outreach programs. For more information on BTF call (413) 298-5536 and on the Colonial call (413) 448-8084. To purchase tickets, call (413) 997-4444 or (413) 298-5576 or go online to www.berkshiretheatre.org or www.thecolonialtheatre.org.
Shakespeare & Company – www.shakespeare.org
70 Kemble Street, Lenox, MA 01240
Founded in 1978, Shakespeare & Company aspires to create theatre of unprecedented excellence rooted in the classical ideals of inquiry, balance and harmony, as well as produce new plays of social and political significance. It is a company that performs as the Elizabethans did—in love with poetry, physical prowess and the mysteries of the universe. Through a company-wide commitment to performance, training and education, Shakespeare & Company inspires actors, directors, designers, students, teachers, scholars and audiences to rediscover the resonance of Shakespeare’s truths in everyday life, thereby demonstrating the influence that classical theatre can have within a community and the world.
Williamstown Theatre Festival – www.wtfestival.org
1000 Main Street, Williamstown, MA 01267
A Berkshire summer tradition since 1954, the Williamstown Theatre Festival provides a catalytic environment where America’s finest actors, directors, and playwrights can practice and refine their craft in collaboration with a loyal and sophisticated audience. A WTF season covers a broad range of theatrical endeavors, revisiting classic plays with innovative productions on its Main Stage, developing and nurturing bold new works on the Nikos Stage, and offering audiences a rich array of cultural events including Free Theatre, Late-Night Cabarets, readings, workshops, and community outreach programs like the Greylock Theatre Project – an arts-mentoring program for children in neighboring North Adams. While best known for its acclaimed productions, WTF is also home to one of the nation’s leading training and professional development program for new generations of aspiring theatre artists and managers. WTF was honored with the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2002 and the Commonwealth Award for Achievement in 2011. The Festival welcomes Jenny Gersten as its new Artistic Director for the 2011 season.