Madame Tussaud returns to life in Trina Davies’ “Waxworks” at Williams directed by Kristen van Ginhoven

Marie Grosholz, later known as Madame Tussaud of wax museum fame, was born in Strasbourg (France) on 7th December 1761. As a teenager she apprenticed with her mentor Dr Curtius, producing her first wax figure in 1778. It was of the famous writer and philosopher Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire. She is invited by the sister of the French King Lodewijk to teach art in Versailles, but Marie is called back to Paris to help Dr Curtius reproduce the heads of guillotine victims.

It’s a fascinating life story and Williams College Theatre Department is proud to be presenting the first full production of award-winning Canadian playwright Trina Davies’s new play Waxworks. Directed by Visiting Lecturer in Theatre and WAM Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven, Waxworks is an exploration of the tales we’re told, the heroes and villains we create, and the life of an extraordinary artist who developed the first worldwide entertainment brand. Performances are coming up from Thursday, May 5th to Saturday, May 7th, at 7:30 PM in the ’62 Center’s Adams Memorial Theatre, located at 1000 Main Street, in Williamstown, MA. Tickets are $3.

Says Trina Davies: “I have been doing a few minor rewrites on Waxworks in preparation for the workshop production at Williams College in May 2016. I will be writer-in-residence at the college for a brief period leading up to the production. I am really looking forward to spending time in Massachusetts, and to working with director Kristen Van Ginhoven.”

Here’s what we have so far. It’s 1789. With France on the verge of revolution, a young Madame Tussaud, Marie Grosholz, is called from her post at Versailles back to Dr. Curtius’ Wax Salon in the heart of Paris. There she is introduced to the most influential people in Paris, including Maximilien Robespierre, who takes a particular interest in her art. As the revolution descends, Marie is forced to confront the remains of those she has befriended—whose waxen images must be set with signs that identify them as ‘patriots’ or ‘enemies’.

Marie enters in her black dress and bonnet.

Marie: Once you have the beginning, you decide how to finish her. You choose the perfect fabric and have it sewn into the right length and shape. Position her limbs as if she were living. Pull out the mirrors and the candles and set everything up…just right. You light her. Cast shadows. Evoke pride and confidence, horror and pity. Then the time comes to present it all. And, just in case they miss the point, you set signs up along the way.” – From the script for Waxworks

“WAM did a reading of Waxworks in 2014 as part of our Fresh Takes play reading series. The story of a young Madame Tussaud finding her voice and stepping into her role as a political artist was an audience favorite,” says van Ginhoven. “I’m delighted for the opportunity to direct it at the Williams Theatre Department as part of their season. The students and faculty are top notch, and we are all fully enjoying the process of exploring this new play. We can’t wait to share it with its first ever audience.”

Van Ginhoven is the Artistic Director and co-founder of WAM Theatre. Founded in 2010, WAM is a professional theatre company based in the Berkshires. WAM’s vision is to create opportunity for women and girls through a mission of theatre as philanthropy. Kristen’s WAM Theatre credits include directing the New England Premiere of In Darfur by Winter Miller, the Northeast Regional Premiere of Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight by Lauren Gunderson and the World Premiere of The Old Mezzo by Susan Dworkin.

Van Ginhoven is also a participant of the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction at the Stratford Festival of Canada, an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, a member of the Canadian Actor’s Equity Association (CAEA) and was a member of the 2013 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. Additional directing credits include The Whale (Adirondack Theatre Festival), 10×10 Festival (Barrington Stage Company, 2013/2014) and Petticoats of Steel (Capital Repertory Theatre).

A Spring 2016 Visiting Lecturer in Theatre at Williams College, van Ginhoven has also worked at Emerson College and Queen’s University.

Danielle D’Oliveira ’19
Omar Gouda ’16
William Ouweleen ’19
Paige Peterkin ’16
Yasmin Ruvalcaba ’17
Madeline Seidman ’17
Sofia Smith ’18
Harold Theurer ’17
Harriet Weldon ’19

The Department of Theatre works to develop in each student an understanding of theatre that is both broad and deep. Through creative expression and critical study, we challenge students to engage both contemporary and historical modes of performance. Theatre students make artworks through design, acting, directing, and dramaturgy. They are encouraged to experiment, to risk, and to make bold choices. Working collaboratively with faculty and guest artists, students integrate intellectual, physical, and emotional responses into an array of live performances each academic year.

For tickets, visit the Williams ’62 Center Box Office Tues-Sat, 1-5 pm or call (413) 597-2425. For more information, please visit

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