There has been more talk and interest around the upcoming world premiere production of Edith at the Berkshire Theatre Group than any other play this summer, with the possible exception of Dr. Ruth, All the Way, at Barrington Stage Company. Both are plays about strong and capable women who have made a significant impoct on America during their lifetimes. Edith Bolling Galt Wilson served her country in 1919-1920 following The Great War, while Dr. Ruth’s contributions were made around the time of the Sexual Revolution beginning in the early 1980′s. Edith Wilson continued to be a player in Washington until the 1960′s (she attended the inauguration of JFK) and Dr. Ruth is still a major figure in this country’s endless battle with antiquated notions about sexuality.
The Back Story
Different times, different agendas, but fascinating tales. Edith‘s story is one of America’s “secret president” when, less than five years after marrying Woodrow Wilson, she found herself managing the affairs of the country as the President lay stricken with a stroke, brought on by a frantic campaign of endless travel and speeches in support of his dream for world peace through the League of Nations. Until then, the most radical act that Edith Wilson had initiated was letting sheep graze on the White House lawn so that the gardeners could be released for military duty.
If this begins to stoke your curiosity about this wonderful and resourceful woman, then you will understand why Edith has been among the most talked about plays of the summer. Written by Kelly Masterson, – a playwright/screenwriter living in New Jersey – his play was given its first reading by the Berkshire Playwright’s Lab at the Mahaiwe in 2011, Edith is clearly becoming a Berkshire phenomenon. The original reading featured Jayne Atkinson as Edith Wilson and Jack Gilpin who returns to play the President, Woodrow Wilson.
The world premiere of a fully staged Edith opens at the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fitzpatrick Main Stage on August 4 at 8pm. Previews begin July 31 at 8pm and closing is on August 11.
The year is 1919, World War I has ended and President Woodrow Wilson has recently returned to the United States after signing the Treaty of Versailles. When the President suffers a sudden stroke, it is up to his wife, First Lady Edith Wilson, to keep the country from falling to pieces. Challenged by the likes of Henry Cabot Lodge and Joseph Tumulty, Edith’s strength and loyalty are tested. However, not even these politicians can destroy her determination and devotion. In this play, we witness the struggle of Edith, a fiercely devoted wife and tough as nails politician, as she battles conspirators, doubters and foreign threats, all in the name of love. With a cast of historical and political heavy weights, Edith presents a side of history, rarely seen; the woman’s point of view.
Click on a photo below to see the actor’s name and bio.
The cast includes Jayne Atkinson as Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, Dan Butler as Thomas Marshall, Jack Gilpin as Woodrow Wilson, RJ Hatanaka as Edmund Starling, Walter Hudson as Henry Cabot Lodge, Peter Rini as Joseph Tumulty, Steven Skybell as Cary Grayson and Samantha Soule as Margaret Wilson.
Tickets to Edith are $37-$57, all preview tickets are $37. Contact the Stockbridge Campus Ticket Office at 83 East Main Street, by calling 413-298-5576 or the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street, Pittsfield by calling 413-997-4444. Tickets can also be bought online at www.berkshiretheatregroup.org. Ticket Offices are open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-2pm or on any performance day from 10am until curtain. All plays, schedules, casting and prices are subject to change.
Michael Sexton (Director) Michael Sexton is the Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Society in NYC. He most recently directed Titus Andronicus with Jay O’ Sanders at the Public Theater. He has directed New York premieres of plays by Rinne Groff, Will Eno, Marsha Norman, Tony Kushner, Caryl Churchill, Ain Gordon, Rogelio Martinez, Victor Lodato, Phil Porter, Chloe Moss, Marin Gazzaniga, Eric Gamalinda and Rosemary Moore. His work has been seen at Red Bull Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Manhattan Class Company, Classic Stage Company, Soho Rep, PS122, The Old Globe, Portland Center Stage, Playmakers Rep, Rising Phoenix Rep, SPF and the Cherry Lane Alternative. He has been a frequent guest artist at NYU’s Graduate Acting Program, the Juilliard School and Columbia University, where he has directed the works of Shakespeare, Moliere, Ostrovsky, Tirso de Molina, Brian Friel, Stephen Adly Guirgis and Suzan Lori Parks. He has taught theater and Shakespeare at Princeton University, UNC Capel Hill, and NYU. He co-edited with Tim Page Four Plays by Dawn Powell.
Kelly Masterson (Playwright) is a playwright/screenwriter living in New Jersey. New York stage productions include: Against the Rising Sea (2009 Queens Theater in the Park, starring Elizabeth Franz and directed by Joe Cacaci), Touch, Armageddon North Dakota and The Word is Out (Samuel French One Act Play Festival Finalist). Regional productions include: True Story and Dare Not Speak Its Name(Outstanding Play, Connecticut Critics Circle). Edith was developed in staged readings by Berkshire Playwrights Lab, which has also presented his Terminal Three(starring Elizabeth Franz), Rehab (Elizabeth Franz and Treat Williams) and A Butler in the House of Plenty (Dan Lauria and Brian Murray). Kelly’s screenplay Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Independent Spirit Award nomination) starred Philip Seymour Hoffman, Maria Tomei and Ethan Hawke and was directed by Sidney Lumet. His screenplay, Snowpiercer, scheduled for release in 2013, stars Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer and John Hurt. Kelly is a member of Writer’s Guild of America East.
Jayne Atkinson (Edith Bolling Galt Wilson) Film: Revenge for Jolly, Syriana, 12 and Holding, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, Free Willy, Free Willy 2, Blank Check.TV: House of Cards, Perception, Becoming Helen Keller, Recount, Criminal Minds, 24, A Year in the Life, Parenthood, Under Suspicion, The Practice, The X-Files, The Education of Max Bickford, Law & Order. Broadway: Blithe Spirit, Enchanted April(Tony & Drama Desk Award Nominations, Outer Critics Circle Award Winner), Our Town; The Rainmaker, Roundabout Theatre Company (Tony Nomination); Ivanov, Lincoln Center Theater revival; All My Sons. Off-Broadway: How I Learned to Drive, Why We Have a Body, The Art of Success, Way of the World; Henry VIII, Shakespeare in the Park; The Striker (Drama Desk Award Nomination), The Vagina Monologues. Regional Theatre: Berkshire Theatre Festival, Westport Country Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre, New York Stage & Film and The Old Globe.
Dan Butler (Thomas Marshall) An actor/writer/director/producer, Dan’s acting credits include major roles On and Off-Broadway and at repertory companies across the country as well as numerous television shows including Frasier, House, Law and Order, From the Earth to the Moon, and Prayers for Bobby. Films include: Crazy, Stupid, Love, Karl Rove, I Love You (co-writer and director), Fixing Frank, Chronic Town, Enemy of the State, and Silence of the Lambs. Dan and his husband Richard Waterhouse recently formed 2nd Act Productions, and their short film Pearl, which Dan directed and adapted from former US poet laurate Ted Kooser’s poem, is now making the film festival rounds.
Jack Gilpin (Woodrow Wilson) WTF: Tonight At 8:30, Design For Living. Broadway:The Elephant Man, Beyond Therapy, Getting and Spending. Off-Broadway: A Cheever Evening, The Middle Ages, The Foreigner, Chasing Manet, Goodbye Oscar, The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, The Breadwinner. Regional: Long Wharf, Hartford Stage, Guthrie, Kennedy Center, Westport Country Playhouse. Film:Something Wild, Reversal of Fortune, Funny Farm, Compromising Positions, She-Devil, Heartburn, Adventureland, Higher Ground. TV: Law & Order, Kate & Allie. Education: Harvard University, Union Theological Seminary.
RJ Hatanaka (Edmund Starling) Hailing from Toronto, Canada, RJ is a proud member of NYU’s Tisch Graduate Acting Program. A black belt in karate, and an avid sports fan, RJ is thrilled to have the opportunity to perform on the Berkshire Main Stage. To have a hand in developing this world premiere with such a highly regarded cast and production team is an actor’s dream. RJ is fascinated by Kelly Masterson’s exploration of what ‘loyalty’ truly means and the complex emotions behind making life-altering decisions. RJ would like to thank his family, friends (especially Deb Lapidus), NYU 2014 colleagues, and the Berkshire Theater Festival for their support and guidance.
Walter Hudson (Henry Cabot Lodge) Broadway: For NYSF,The Pirates of Penzance & The Human Comedy, Welcome to The Club. National Tours: Pirates(The Pirate King) Carbonnell Nomination, Noises Off, Blood Brothers. Off-Broadway: Original Orpheum Theatre Production of Little Shop of Horrors (The Dentist),Retribution at the Lambs Theatre. Most Regionals including National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Kennedy Center, Yale Rep, Denver Theatre Center, Long Wharf, Hartford Stage, Huntingdon Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Ford’s Theatre, Walnut St. Theatre. He is delighted to return to BTF after playing Tom/Phyllis/Leslie in A.R. Gurney’s Sylvialast summer. He has appeared at BTF in Mrs. Warren’s Profession, The Einstein Project, Macbeth, Amadeus, A Man for All Seasons, and My Fair Lady, among others. This past fall, Walter played the Narrator/Mysterious Man in Into the Woodsfor the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta. This spring he returned to the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis for his fourth time, playing Solinus, Duke of Ephesus in The Comedy of Errors directed by Paul Mason Barnes.
Peter Rini (Joseph Tumulty) Broadway and tours: South Pacific from Lincoln Center,1st National Tour, Cmmdr. Harbison; Neil Simon’s Proposals, Vinnie Bavasi (original company); A View From the Bridge, Marco; Tartuffe: Born Again; Loyal. Off Broadway: The Talls, 2ST Uptown; The Merchant of Venice, NYSF; Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight, Promenade, Dead City, New Georges, among others. Regionally, Peter has worked at The Shakespeare Theater, D.C., Hartford Stage, Long Wharf, Dallas Theater Center, ART in Cambridge, Westport Country Playhouse. TV and film: Smash, (as Arthur Miller), Blue Bloods, ER, Rescue Me and on all the Law and Order franchises. In 2000, he was awarded a Fox Fellowship. Education: B.A., Brandeis University. Training: M.F.A., NYU. He is a member of The Actor’s Workshop Company and Actor’s Equity. Peter is happy to be back at BTF after working at the Unicorn Theater straight out of graduate school in the summer of 1994.
Steven Skybell (Cary Grayson) Most recently appeared as Bottom in the off-broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Classic Stage). Broadway: Pal Joey, Wicked, The Full Monty, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Café Crown, Ah Wilderness. Off-Broadway includes: Antigone in New York (Obie Award), Love’s Labor’s Lost (The Public), The Lesson (Atlantic), The Controversy at Vallodolid (The Public), What Didn’t Happen (Playwrights Horizons), numerous Shakespeare at The Delacorte, Theatre for a New Audience, The Public. Regional credits include Arthur in Camelot (Helen Hayes nomination), title roles in Uncle Vanya (McCarter/La Jolla), and Hamlet (CalShakes), Westport Country Playhouse, former company member of American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge MA, inaugural season of Shakespeare’s Globe/London (PBS’ Great Performances). BBC radio drama, The Day that Lehman Died (Peabody award). TV/Film: the upcoming ABC drama 666 Park Avenue, NYC 22, Law and Order, Sex and the City, All My Children, Simply Irresistible, Cradle Will Rock, Tom and Francie.
Samantha Soule (Margaret Wilson) Broadway: The Philanthropist (Roundabout), Dinner At Eight (Lincoln Center), Coram Boy (Imperial Theater). Off Broadway:Escape (La Mama), Lake Water (IRT), A Little Journey (Mint Theater Company, Drama Desk Nom.) Gabriel, The Voysey Inheritance (Atlantic), Killers and Other Family (Rattlestick), Monstrosity (13P), Valhalla (NYTW), The Dining Room (Keen, Drama Desk Award); Regional: Candida (BTF), The Evildoers (Yale), Twelfth Night, An Enemy of the People, The Tempest (The Shakespeare Theater), A Body of Water (The Old Globe, San Diego Critics Circle Award), Lady Winermere’s Fan(Williamstown), David Copperfield (Westport Country Playhouse). TV/FILM: Law & Order: SVU, Smash, Morning After, How We Got Away With It, Revolutionary Road, Guiding Light. Training/Affiliations: BFA: The Juilliard School, Artistic Associate of Rising Phoenix Rep.
by Kelly Masterson
directed by Michael Sexton
With scenic design by Brett J. Banakis, costume design by David Murin, lighting design by Paul Gallo and Craig Stelzenmuller and sound design by Jill BC Du Boff.
July 31 Tuesday 8pm (Preview)
August 01 Wednesday 7pm (Preview)
August 02 Thursday 8pm (Preview)
August 03 Friday 8pm (Preview)
August 04 Saturday 2pm
August 04 Saturday 8pm (Opening/Press Night)
August 06 Monday 8pm
August 07 Tuesday 8pm
August 08 Wednesday 7pm
August 09 Thursday 8pm
August 10 Friday 8pm
August 11 Saturday 2pm & 8pm