Berkshire Playwrights Lab to launch six new plays by local writers in tenth season

Joe Cacaci, Jim Frangione and Matthew Penn

Joe Cacaci, Jim Frangione and Matthew Penn

Berkshire Playwrights Lab (BPL) is launching the inaugural Radius Playwrights Festival in its new home at Saint James Place later this month. Radius Playwrights Festival features new short plays created by local writers—anyone within a 50-mile radius of Great Barrington. BPL will present fully staged readings of the six selected plays in the much-anticipated new performance space located in downtown Great Barrington on Friday, January 27, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday January 28, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 each and may be purchased at berkshireplaywrightslab.org/tickets or at the door. Discounted tickets are available for groups of six or more. The Radius Playwrights Festival is generously sponsored by Ben and Elaine Silberstein, Gary and Janet Cookson, Salisbury Bank and an anonymous donor.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2017, Berkshire Playwrights Lab is the region’s only professional theater exclusively dedicated to the development of new plays. Led by Co-Artistic Directors Joe Cacaci, Jim Frangione and Matthew Penn, BPL’s mission is to provide fledgling and established playwrights with a secure space in which they may develop new work and explore new avenues of creativity. More than 35 short and 50 full-length plays have been presented since 2007; several BPL plays have gone to full productions at other companies. BPL will present a full production of “Some Old Black Man” by critically acclaimed playwright James A. Tyler in August 2017, starring Broadway/Off-Broadway’s Peter Jay Fernandez and Tony Award winner Roger Robinson. In other developmental news, BPL also promoted former General Manager Ann Garner to Managing Director, while adding three new board members: Robin Schultz Gerber (New Marlborough, Mass. and Englewood, N.J.), John Katz (Great Barrington, Mass.) and Deann Halper (Sheffield, Mass. and New York, N.Y.).

The purpose of Radius Playwrights Festival is to cultivate and celebrate local talent. According to BPL Managing Director Ann Garner, “our participants are from all over the area—three playwrights from Berkshire County, one from the Pioneer Valley and two from adjacent New York. We’re also really excited to have directors from other area organizations that we really respect, like WAM (Lee, Mass.), Aglet Theatre Company (Taconic, Conn.) and Berkshire School (Sheffield, Mass.).” Garner continues that BPL is “delighted by the way the community has embraced this project. We received 109 submissions from local playwrights, and we met almost 40 local actors at auditions, many of whom we’d never met before.”

BPL Co-Artistic Director Jim Frangione notes, “these plays were selected via a blind submission process, guaranteeing a level playing field for all, regardless of the level of experience or notoriety. Here’s what this means to our playwrights—the ONLY thing that matters is the quality of your work!” In addition to the blind submission process, there was no fee for participation. The selection panel consists of stage and screen professionals from the Berkshire community as well as New York City. Using local actors and directors, Berkshire Playwrights Lab expects the inaugural Radius Playwrights Festival to be a night of community, recognizing and celebrating the wealth of talent in our own back yard. Managing Director Ann Garner noted that a theme has emerged among the selected shorts: “small moments with huge consequences – the stakes are really high for the characters.”

Berkshire Playwrights Lab’s Radius Playwrights Festival will present six short plays by the following playwrights: Katherine Burger (Kingston, N.Y.), James McLindon (Northampton, Mass.), Steven Otfinoski (Sandisfield, Mass.), Andy Reynolds (Great Barrington, Mass.), Maizy Broderick Scarpa (Canaan, N.Y.) and Rachel Schroeder (Great Barrington, Mass.). The plays will be directed by: David Adkins (Berkshires), Michael Brady (Southfield, Mass.), Ann Garner (Stockbridge, Mass.), Jesse Howard (Sheffield, Mass.), Macey Levin (Taconic, Conn.) and Kristen Van Ginhoven (Berkshires).

About Berkshire Playwright Lab

Berkshire Playwrights Lab, celebrating its tenth season, is the region’s only professional theater exclusively dedicated to the development of new plays. BPL’s mission is to provide new and established playwrights with a secure space in which they may develop new work and explore new avenues of creativity. More than 35 short and 50 full-length plays have been presented since 2007. Several plays presented under the BPL banner in recent years went on to become full productions at other companies in New York and at regional theaters across the country. This August, BPL will mount a full production of “Some Old Black Man” by acclaimed playwright James A. Tyler.

Berkshire Playwrights Lab’s summertime Staged Reading Series brings artists and audiences into conversation around new plays in development. Past writers and performers have included Tony Shalhoub, Treat Williams, Dan Lauria, Wendie Malick, Eric Bogosian, Elaine May and David Mamet. Berkshire Playwrights Lab Co-Artistic Directors are Joseph Cacaci, Jim Frangione and Matthew Penn, all with long professional careers as actors, directors and writers for both stage and screen.

For more information, please visit berkshireplaywrightslab.org or call 413.528.2544.

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