MCLA puts the spotlight on women playwrights, directors, gender-blind casting

FPA Theatre Banner 2

The Fine and Performing Arts (FPA) Department at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams,MA has announced that its 2016-17 theatre program will focus on gender-blind casting, plays written by female playwrights, which will provide opportunities for women not always showcased in theatre.

“This season we’re creating a space for women’s voices in theatre,” said Laura Standley, associate professor of theatre, “with shows that highlight female roles both on and off stage.”

The entire season will be directed by women. This will include – for the first time on the main stage – a student director, Brianna McDermott ’17. McDermott will kick off the season with “The Best of Everything,” a work adapted for the stage by Julie Kramer.

With a cast of nine women and two men, the play will center on ambitious secretaries who are trying to make it in the big city. These girls want thrilling careers, adventures, husbands and children, too, in due time.

The show will run Oct. 12 – 15, 2016 in the Venable Theater. A panel discussion will be held after the 2 p.m. matinee, on Saturday, Oct. 15, to center on women who break through the glass ceiling.

The second show in the fall lineup is Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” directed by Standley. By empowering women to play roles normally reserved for men, this diverse, all-female cast cuts to the heart of Shakespeare’s most famous discourse on war, ambition, unrest and power. The show’s performances will take place in Venable Theater, Nov. 16 – 19, 2016.

Following the winter break, FPA will present “Riot,” directed by Sara Katzoff, who has directed numerous times as a guest artist, including last season’s “Dog Sees God” series. The play, by The Wardrobe Ensemble, is a true story set in a lamp-lit, flat-pack universe bursting with violence, chaos and multiple characters. “Riot” will run March 1- 4, 2017.

Finishing the season will be “Our Country’s Good” by Timberlake Wertenbaker, also to be directed by Standley, who dedicates herself to providing the students and community with a diverse array of plays.

Inspired by the letters and journals of Australia’s founders, the play tells the story of a group of transported convicts and the British lieutenant charged with directing them in a play. Under the specter of hanged felons, the prisoners rehearse for their lives. “Our Country’s Good” will run April 26 – 29, 2017.

For more information or to reserve tickets, please call the box office at (413) 662-5123, or visit

The Theatre Program at MCLA develops innovative theatre artists prepared for careers in theatre and graduate study. In the intimate, culturally rich setting of the Berkshires, students hone their craft through intensive studio training and hands-on experience, within the context of their broader liberal arts education. Opportunities for practical experience abound, from courses in acting, directing, design and production to working alongside a faculty of talented professionals in our award-winning production season. On stage and in the classroom, theatre students at MCLA make theatre of the highest quality, as they explore the rich tradition of this unique, multi-disciplinary art form.

For more information, 413-662-5123, or go to or

One thought on “MCLA puts the spotlight on women playwrights, directors, gender-blind casting

  1. What role does Laura Standley, associate professor of theatre, see for the male students enrolled in her program? By excluding and marginalizing males how will that benefit female students? In theatre as in life itself we have to work together. It is facing and resolving issues that are essential to theatre and the arts.

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