“We envision a world where young women aspire to become confident leaders in their communities”
Lenox, MA [January 31, 2017] – The Second Cohort of WAM Theatre’s Girls Ensemble program will be presenting a public performance of their original theatre piece, currently titled What’s That Sound?, on Friday, February 17 at 7:30 pm in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at Shakespeare & Company. The original show the girls have developed centers on a group waiting to board a bus to go to a protest. They all bring a lot of baggage, metaphorically and literally. As they chat, questions are posed about identity, race, gender, fear, age, history, and protest. Suitable for ages 10 and up.The performance is free of charge and open to the public.
Beginning in January, four young women ages 13-18, selected by audition, met on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons to create this new piece of devised theatre under the leadership of WAM teaching artists Amy Brentano, Barby Cardillo, and their assistant, Lia Russell-Self. Devised theatre is a collaborative process where the participants use different theatre techniques to create original material around a chosen starting point. Participants in this cohort hale from Pittsfield, Dalton, Lee and Richmond.
This year’s Ensemble members are: Iris Courchaine (Lee High School); Debora Lytle (Reid Middle School); Hailey Mack (Richmond Consolidated); Dylan Redd (Wahconah Regional High School).
Here are some of their comments on the program:
“I wanted to be a part of an ensemble that would stand up for girls’ rights.”
“I feel that Girls Ensemble will give girls a way to be confident in their skin… by learning about other people and how they feel and what they think about themselves.”
“[Girls Ensemble] opens up a conversation because a lot of people have these ideas but they aren’t sure how to communicate them and they aren’t given the opportunity to.”
When asked how this program addresses the participants’ immediate concerns, teaching artist Brentano explained, “With the immediate access to news through social media, young people are often bombarded with information and acutely aware of topical events. Our sessions have been a safe place to process the questions and opinions they hold and an opportunity to express their thoughts and feeling through creating theatre.”
“Having a diverse group of young women lends itself to a broader vision of our culture and each other,” teaching artist Cardillo added. “The current upheaval of our world is what these girls want to talk about. This program allows them to channel their thoughts and ideas into an original piece of theatre that is its own form of protest.”
The WAM Girls Ensemble is an International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) endorsed project and, following their public performance in February, this cohort will attend an ISTA Festival in Atlanta, Georgia in March 2017. They will join students from international schools around the world to spend three days devising theatre around the theme of race, inclusion, prejudice, and oppression.Based in the United Kingdom, ISTA brings together young people, artists and teachers from different countries in different settings to experience, create and learn about theatre. ISTA produces over 50 international arts events each year. http://www.ISTA.co.uk
The Girls Ensemble will embark on a school tour in March and April. Schools interested in booking the show should contact WAM Education Coordinator, Alicia Maher firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or a young woman you know would like to be part of future WAM Education programs, visit http://www.wamtheatre.com/wam-education/ for more information.
Funding for this program is provided by multi-year grants from Greylock Federal Credit Union, the Dylandale Foundation, and the International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA), as well as support from Berkshire Bank Foundation, the Brabson Library and Educational Foundation, Interprint, The Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, and the Richmond Cultural Council, the Lenox Cultural Council, and the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire, local agencies that are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
Cast and Creative Team:
ABOUT AMY BRENTANO
Teaching Artist for WAM’s Girls Ensemble in Fall 2015 and for the 2016 Spring Tour) Amy was the film and theatre director at Berkshire Country Day School for four years, and she teaches and directs theatre at Richmond Consolidated School. In the past she has worked for Berkshire Theatre Group, Barrington Stage Playwright Mentoring Project, and the Southern Berkshire Regional School District. Brentano was the Co-artistic Director for Red Earth Ensemble and Producing Director for Don Quijote Experimental Children’s Theatre at Lincoln Square Theatre. She performed under the direction of Moises Kaufman at Theatre for the New City; and at La MaMa ETC as an ensemble member of Teatron. Most recently she appeared in an original piece at Shire City in Pittsfield with Kickwheel Ensemble.
ABOUT BARBY CARDILLO
(Teaching Artist and WAM Education Associate) Barby is a professional performer and teaching artist and also holds a BA in social work from MCLA. She came to WAM in 2011 having been cast in the mainstage production of “The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls” Also for WAM, she has performed in the Fresh Takes Series, The 24 Hour Theatre Project, the Word by Word Festival and the Ten x Ten arts Festival As a teaching artist, Barby has been creating and directing drama workshops and productions in the Berkshires since 1992. With Shakespeare and Company she has directed Shakespeare productions at many area elementary, middle and high schools. She worked for “Shakespeare in the Courts” for 6 years directing productions with adjudicated youth as a part of an alternative sentencing program. For 10 summers she was the Director of the Theatre Program at Camp Hawthorne in Maine. She directed kids 10-17 in a full -length production every summer. For 8 years, Ms. Cardillo was the drama instructor at the Valleyhead School, a residential treatment facility for girls aged 12-20 who have experienced severe psychological trauma. Her work with the girls was part of a comprehensive therapeutic arts program designed to heal through creative expression using visual and performing arts. Barby has worked since 1999 with Community Access to the Arts (CATA) an organization who’s mission it is to celebrate and nurture the creativity of people with disabilities through shared experiences in the arts. She creates and implements workshops for adults and teens with developmental disabilities in multiple settings throughout the Berkshires. As an Artistic Mentor with the Barrington Stage Company, Barby has lead groups of teens in creating theatre from their own stories as part of the award winning Playwright Mentoring Project (PMP). Barby was also the creator and teacher for the K.E.W.L (kids entertained while learning) Beanz, high school improv troupes that she has taught at Drury High, Pittsfield High, Taconic High and Hillcrest Educational Center. She has been seen on stage in many varied roles with WAM Theatre, Aglet Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Group, Shakespeare & Company, Berkshire Fringe Festival, Mixed Company, Castle Hill Family Theatre and the Boston Playwrights Theatre as well as being a founding member of the Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe and a player with “The Majesters” an improv group in West Springfield.
ABOUT LIA RUSSELL-SELF
(Teaching Artist Assistant/Teaching Artist) After graduating with a BA in Theatre and Creative Writing from Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Lia has explored theatre and film throughout New England with companies such as Riverwolf Productions (Amherst, MA), The Berkshire Fringe (Pittsfield, MA), and Plays in Progress (Hudson, NY), most recently appearing as Tituba and Danforth in Hubbard Hall’s rendition of The Crucible in Cambridge, NY. A trained physical actor and avid writer, Lia is also a co-founder of 84 Productions, an all-arts company dedicated to intersectionality.
ABOUT WAM THEATRE
Based in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, WAM Theatre is Where Arts and Activism Meet. The company was co-founded in 2010 by Canadian director, actor, educator, and producer Kristen van Ginhoven. WAM’s vision is to create opportunity for women and girls through the mission of theatre as philanthropy.
Inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from its theatrical events to organizations that benefit women and girls.
Since 2010, WAM Theatre has donated more than $30,000 to eleven nonprofit organizations and provided paid work to more than 200 theatre artists. In addition to the main stage productions and special events, WAM Theatre’s activities include a comprehensive educational outreach program and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. For more information, visit http://www.WAMTheatre.com