Finally, after months of struggling with the demands of learning how to write for the theatre, and then to put the results on stage, the Playwright Mentoring Project has scheduled its 2012 week of public performances in North Adams and Pittsfield. The completion of the project by this years high school students was announced by Barrington Stage Company, and its Artistic Director Julianne Boyd and Managing Director Tristan Wilson.
Performances will be held in North Adams and Pittsfield from April 10 – 13 and culminate in a final PMP performance on Saturday, April 14 at 2:00pm at BSC Stage 2, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield.
Brains, guts … and heart. That’s what PMP’s investment in our kids supports. Today’s economy isn’t a great place to start out on your own. But someone who knows how to observe the world, to think and write about it surely has a better chance at a full life than most. – Larry Murray
Over the course of the six-month PMP program, teens create an original performance piece based on their own stories in a safe and confidential environment where they can express themselves, develop conflict resolution skills and together create a supportive community.
PMP has also collaborated with local Berkshire social services organizations such as the Brein Center, The Elizabeth Freeman Center, and Tapestry Health, to not only deepen the knowledge of the PMP staff but help reach out to the network of agencies that serve youth in Berkshire County
Six Groups of Playwrights
The program has six groups in two Berkshire County communities: three groups in Pittsfield (including a court-mandated group) and three groups in North Adams. At-risk students are referred to the program by counselors, community leaders, parents and in the case of the court-mandated group, judges and probation officers.
“This year the Playwright Mentoring Project continues to serve the areas of North Adams and Pittsfield; with over 65 teens from a variety of cities and towns in the Berkshires,” said PMP director Frank LaFrazia. “The five original plays that the teens created this year in collaboration with professional playwrights are extremely moving, inventive and theatrical. Many of the plays deal with topics such as school bullying, peer pressure, drug/alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, and family issues.”
In 2007, PMP won the prestigious “Coming Up Taller” award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities—the nation’s highest honor for after-school arts programs.
The final performance on April 14 includes performances from all of the participating groups (excluding the court-mandated group). The PMP groups will perform original plays developed during weekly sessions over the past six months. The scenes are based on issues and stories from the participants’ lives and include topics such as family stress, foster care, drug/alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy and peer pressure. In addition to the final performance on April 14, year-end public performances for each Playwright Mentoring Project group will be held around the county.
Tickets to the final performance on Saturday, April 14 at 2pm at Barrington Stage’s Stage 2, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield are free but reservations are required as seating is limited. To reserve a seat, please call the Barrington Stage Box Office at 413-236-8888. No reservations are required for the free public performances April 10-13 (schedule below). These performances are 20-30 minutes in length and are followed by a 10-15 minute question and answer period. These events are intended for mature audiences.
2012 BSC PMP Public Performance Schedule
Tuesday, April 10: “Behind the Mask,” Pittsfield Tuesday Group, BSC Stage 2, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, 7pm.
Wednesday, April 11: “But Now…,” Pittsfield Wednesday Group, BSC Stage 2, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, 7pm.
Thursday, April 12: “Stories Unleashed,” North Adams Wednesday Group, Mill City Players, Building 4 North at the Heritage State Park, North Adams, 7pm.
Friday, April 13: “Bending and Breaking,” North Adams Thursday Afternoon Group, Mill City Players, Building 4 North at the Heritage State Park, North Adams, 7pm.
Friday, April 13: “Our Perfect View,” North Adams Thursday Evening Group, Mill City Players, Building 4 North at the Heritage State Park, North Adams, 8pm.
About the Playwright Mentoring Project (PMP)
Now celebrating its 11th year, PMP is an intensive, six-month theatre program that offers at-risk youth in Berkshire County a safe place to tell their stories, learn theatre and improvisation techniques, and develop conflict resolution skills. Participants write an original play based on their own life experiences that they perform and discuss in their schools and communities. The Playwright Mentoring Project currently serves 65 youth in Pittsfield and North Adams, including a court-mandated program in association with the Pittsfield Juvenile Courts. PMP is sponsored in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Berkshire United Way. To find out more about the Playwright Mentoring Project, please contact Frank La Frazia at 413-997-6117 or visit barringtonstageco.org/education.
About Barrington Stage Company
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 bringing new audiences into the theatre—especially young people. Barrington Stage garnered national attention in 2004 when it workshopped, and premiered William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s musical hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which later transferred to Broadway’s Circle-in-the-Square Theatre where it won two Tony Awards and played more than 1,000 performances. In 2009/2010 Barrington Stage produced the world premiere of Mark St. Germain’s Freud’s Last Session, which later moved Off-Broadway to the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater and then to New World Stages and has played more than 600 performances. Barrington Stage was voted “Best Live Theatre” by The Berkshire Eagle readers in 2011 and was named “Best Theatre Company” in Metroland’s Best of the Capital Region 2009-2011.