WAM’s “Samsara” – groundbreaking theatre about three parents and one baby

Leigh Strimbeck directs "Samsura" for WAM Theatre.

Leigh Strimbeck directs “Samsura” for WAM Theatre.

WAM Theatre Announces Casting for Fresh Takes Reading of “Samsara”

WAM Theatre is prepping for the fourth in their 2016 Fresh Takes Play Reading Series, Samsara by Lauren Yee, directed by WAM Theatre Co-Founder Leigh Strimbeck. The reading will take place on Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 3 pm at No. Six Depot Roastery and Café, 6 Depot Street in West Stockbridge, MA.

Katie and Craig are having a baby, with a surrogate who lives in India. A month before the baby’s due date, Craig travels to the subcontinent, where he meets Suraiya, their young, less-than-thrilled surrogate. As all three “parents” anxiously wait for the baby to be born, flights of fancy attack them from all sides, in the form of an unctuous Frenchman and a smart-mouthed fetus. WAM Theatre is proud to share this vibrant and whimsical take on modern day colonialism.

The cast includes Suzanne Ankrum (WAM Theatre’s Emilie, New Century’s The How and the Why) as Katie, Jonathan Albert (acting and playwriting professor at Union College) as Craig. Lipica Shah (Gulfshore Playhouse’s The Who and The What, NY Fringe Festival’s Coping) as Suraiya, Imran W. Sheikh (recently seen at Artists Rep and San Jose Rep) as Amit, and Jean-Remy Monnay (Founder and President of Soul Rebel Performance Troupe) as the Frenchman. For detailed information on the cast go to www.wamtheatre.com/samsara/

Asked what enticed her to direct Samsara, Strimbeck said, “I like the script a lot because it has a little bit of a whimsical element to it. It’s about the drive people have to start families, which I certainly understand, and I love the diversity that is built into the casting.”

Since 2014 the Fresh Takes series has been introducing Berkshire audiences to ground-breaking works by established women playwrights, focusing on relevant, provocative, uplifting plays that encourage dialogue and deal with current and controversial issues in artful ways. The 2016 Fresh Takes season is sponsored by No. Six Depot and Kristin and James Hatt.

After Samsara, the Fresh Takes Series concludes with Grand Concourse by Heidi Shreck, directed by Sheila Siragusa, on September 11, 2016.

About the Playwright: Lauren Yee

WAM Theatre: Debut. Plays: Include Ching Chong Chinaman (Pan Asian, Mu Performing Arts, SIS Productions, Impact Theatre),Crevice (Impact Theatre), The Hatmaker’s Wife (Playwrights Realm, The Hub, Moxie Theatre, AlterTheater, PlayPenn), Hookman, In A Word, King Of The Yees, Samsara, And The Tiger Among Us. Venues: Her work has been developed at Lincoln Center/LCT3, the Goodman Theatre, The Public Theatre, Second Stage, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Center Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Kitchen Dog, Magic Theatre, and others. Former Dramatists Guild fellow, MacDowell Colony fellow, Public Theater Emerging Writers Group member, Women’s Project Lab playwright, Second Stage Shank playwright-in-residence, and Playwrights Realm Page One resident playwright. Awards: Her play Samsara has been a nominee for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award. Her play The Hatmaker’s Wife was an Outer Critics Circle nominee for the John Gassner Award for best play by a new American playwright. Et Cetera: She is currently a member of the Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab and a Playwrights’ Center Core Writer. Lauren is under commission from the Goodman Theatre, Lincoln Center/LCT3, South Coast Rep, Mixed Blood, and Encore Theatre. Training: BA: Yale. MFA: UCSD. Online: www.laurenyee.com

About the Director: Leigh Strimbeck

WAM Theatre: Co-founder of WAM, created and directed in association with TIS the devised pieces MIRROR, MIRROR and “I’m Not a Feminist, But….”, 24 Hour Theatre Projects . Elsewhere: The Artistic Director of the Theatre Institute at Sage (TIS); artist in residence in the theater program at Russell Sage College; associate member of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE) and a member of Actors’ Equity Association. At TIS she adapted, directed and toured The Trojan Women in 2013, directed On the Verge, Spring Awakening, Groundedand Wait Until Dark. Currently Leigh is writing a play in celebration of Russell Sage College’s centennial “Yours,” based on 100 years of the student newspaper. Regional directing: Fools Rush In, Voice of the Prairie, Sea Marks, The Nest, Daytrips, The Baltimore Waltz and Death of a Salesman for BTE; Children of a Lesser God, On the Verge, Tonight We Improvise, The Mystery of Irma Vep and Private Eyes for other regional theaters. Co-writer and director of Berwick, America! and This House Builded, both history plays commissioned by their communities. Acting: Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (twice), Grusha in Caucasian Chalk Circle, Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew; and Lady MacDuff in Saratoga Shakespeare Festival’s Macbeth. Last summer Leigh was seen at Shakespeare and Company understudying Tina Packer in the new play Mother of the Maid by Jane Anderson – performing five times during the run. Films: UnCivil Liberties, Fighting for Freedom and Little BiPeep, for which she won a best supporting actress award at Atlantic City Cinefest. To see Leigh’s acting reel go to: leighstrimbeck.com Et cetera: Leigh is also the lead communications coach for the New York State Defender’s Institute Basic Trial Skills Program.


Fresh Takes Play Reading Series
Curated by WAM Theatre’s Artistic Associate Molly Clancy and hosted by No. Six Depot Roastery and Café on 6 Depot Street in West Stockbridge, MA, on select Sundays at 3 pm.

The 2016 Fresh Takes series is sponsored by No. Six Depot Roastery and Café and Kristin and James Hatt.

There are only 30 tickets available per reading. Tickets are $20, which includes a post-show conversation and the opportunity to meet the cast and director. Refreshments will be available for purchase at the Café. For tickets and more information visit:

August 21, 2016
by Lauren Yee
directed by Leigh Strimbeck

September 11, 2016
Grand Concourse
by Heidi Shreck
directed by Sheila Siragusa

WAM Theatre is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Our 2016 sponsors include the Adams Community Bank, Brabson Library & Educational Foundation, Berkshire Magazine, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, Canyon Ranch, Custom Business Solution, Dylandale Foundation, Feigenbaum Foundation, Garden Gables, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, International Schools Theatre Association, Interprint, Dr. Jay Wise, DDS & Dr. Casey Jones, DMD, Jon Gotterer DMD, Keator Group, LLC, Lee Bank, Lenox Education Enrichment Fund, Massachusetts Cultural Council, MAXYMILLIAN Technologies, Nina Molin MD, No. Six Depot Roastery and Café, Petricca Industries, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, RB Design Co., The Rookwood Inn, Rouge Restaurant & Bistro, Toole Insurance, A. von Schlegell & Co., The Sherman Investment Group-RBC Wealth Management, and Zabian’s Fine Jewelers.

WAM Theatre is also supported in part by grants from the Lenox, Alford-Egremont, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Cultural Council of Northern Berkshires , Washington Cultural Council, Monterey Cultural Council, Stockbridge Cultural Council, West Stockbridge Cultural Council, Richmond Cultural Council – local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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