WAM Theatre Announces Cast and Beneficiary for Fall Mainstage Production

LENOX, MA (July 13, 2017) – It was a picture perfect Berkshire evening on Wednesday, July 12 as WAM Theatre supporters packed the bucolic grounds of Hilltop Orchards in Richmond to celebrate and support the company’s eighth season at the company’s successful Stars in the Orchards Gala. The full house was in a great mood enjoying the tasty hors d’oeuvres catered by the Orchards and wine made on site at Furnace Brook Winery.

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WAM’s 2017 Girls Ensemble cohort performed excerpts from their popular new work What’s That Sound?, which toured local schools this spring. Live and silent auctions added to the fun. Volunteer Karen Richards and Corporate Sponsor Amy Lindner-Lesser of the RookWood Inn were honored with the 2017 WAMily Award for their support and service to WAM. The event raised more than $25,000 for WAM’s Education programs and the company’s upcoming fall play The Last Wife by Kate Hennig, directed by Kelly Galvin.

But the highlight of the evening was the opportunity to get a sneak peek at scenes from The Last Wife performed by members of the cast. Gala audience members were the first to hear that The Last Wife cast will be helmed by Berkshire favorites Nehassaiu DeGannes, John Hadden, and David Joseph, along with talented WAM newcomers Lily Linke, Alicia Piemme Nelson, and Raoul Silver.

“All of us at WAM are delighted to announce the incredible cast for The Last Wife”, exclaimed Kristen van Ginhoven, WAM’s Artistic Director. “This ensemble of six, led by Nehassaiu and John, is the perfect cast to share this contemporary retelling of the compelling relationship between Katherine Parr and Henry VIII. In the hands of director Kelly Galvin, this funny and powerful examination of patriarchy, sexual politics, and women’s rights is sure to be an invigorating evening in the theatre that all will want to see.”

Gala participants were also the first to learn the identity of the charity that will benefit from the production. In keeping with their double philanthropic mission, WAM Theatre will be donating 25% of the box office proceeds from The Last Wife to their thirteenth beneficiary, The Soldier On Women’s Program.

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Soildier On Executive Director Sara Scoco and resident Louann Hazelwood, a veteran living independently who will receive continuing care thanks to WAM’s donation.

Since 2005, Soldier On has been providing services to women veterans and currently offers a transitional housing program for up to sixteen homeless female veterans in a trauma informed care setting. Soldier On provides a safe, comfortable, structured environment that promotes healing and healthy life choice, helping veterans realize their full potential by providing them with activities and opportunities that embrace mind, body, and spirit. WAM’s donation will support care during the transition to independent or family life for the residents of the Soldier On Women’s Program.

Executive Director Sara Scoco was on hand at the Gala to meet WAM supporters and speak about the organization’s work.

“The Soldier On Women’s Program is thrilled to be WAM’s 2017 beneficiary and honored to work with a program that is so passionate about improving the lives of females,” Scoco said. “Their generous donation will allow Soldier On to continue to provide services and support to homeless female veterans, including groups within the program and follow up case management services after women have successfully transitioned into the community. Soldier On Women’s Program simply would not exist without benevolent donors such as WAM, and we are absolutely delighted to be a part of this experience.”

As the evening came to a close and the Gala audience enjoyed their delicious apple cider donuts WAM Artistic Director, Kristen van Ginhoven closed the evening by sharing WAM’s Philosophy of Giving for their unique double philanthropic mission, saying, “WAM Theatre was founded in 2010 with a unique mission: to use art as activism to support opportunities for women and girls. After only eight years WAM is a nationally recognized theatre entity, both for our philanthropic work and our creative vision. At a time when the rights of women are being challenged both domestically and abroad, WAM’s mission to provide philanthropy through theatre allows us to have even greater impact. Thanks to all for your support!”

Another successful Gala for one of the Berkshires most exciting growing companies.

About Soldier On

Soldier On has a single purpose mission of providing a continuum of programs to ensure that homeless veterans and their families have access to immediate and long-term housing with an array of supportive services delivered to them where they live. Soldier On’s goal is to help veterans become fully franchised and contributing members of their community by helping them to regain physical, mental, economic and housing stability within an environment of integrity, dignity and hope.

Since 2005 Soldier On has been providing services to women veterans and currently offers a transitional housing program for up to sixteen homeless female veterans in a trauma informed care setting. Soldier On provides a safe, comfortable, structured environment that promotes healing and healthy life choice, helping veterans realize their full potential by providing them with activities and opportunities that embrace mind, body, and spirit.

Soldier On Women’s Program website: http://www.wesoldieron.org/womens-program/

About The Last Wife

Performances of the Northeast Regional Premiere of The Last Wife are scheduled for October 13-November 5, 2017, at Shakespeare & Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, 70 Kemble St, Lenox, MA. Tickets will go on sale later this summer, but mark your calendars because this is a production you will not want to miss!

A contemporary reimagining of the compelling relationship between Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, and the King, The Last Wife is a funny, powerful examination of patriarchy, sexual politics, and women’s rights. Starring Berkshire favorites Nehassaiu DeGannes, John Hadden, and David Joseph, along with talented WAM newcomers Lily Linke, Alicia Piemme Nelson, and Raoul Silver.

“WAM Theatre opened our 2016 Fresh Takes play reading with The Last Wife, to a sold out and enthusiastic crowd. Presenting this play is exciting for many reasons- one of which is that this is the first Fresh Takes play to be chosen as a WAM Mainstage Production.” said Kristen van Ginhoven, WAM Artistic Director. “Plus Kelly Galvin, WAM’s first Fresh Takes Curator, will be directing this production. We couldn’t be more excited to have Kelly at the helm directing The Last Wife.”

Quick Facts
The Last Wife
by Kate Hennig
Northeast Regional Premiere

October 13-November 5, 2017
at Shakespeare & Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre
70 Kemble St, Lenox, MA

Cast
John Hadden as Henry
Nehassaiu DeGannes as Kate
Lily Linke as Mary
Alicia Piemme Nelson as Bess
David Joseph as Thom
Raoul Silver as Eddie

Creative Team
Director: Kelly Galvin
Assistant Director: Lia Russell-Self
Set Design: Juliana von Haubrich
Costume Design: Stella Schwartz
Lighting Design: Aja Jackson
Sound Design: Alex Sovronsky

About the Playwright: Kate Hennig

downloadWAM Theatre: 2016 Fresh Takes Reading Series. Writing: Her writing includes poetry, stories, articles for industry publications, a dissertation, two blogs, and a research paper. As a playwright Kate has been a member of the Groundswell Playwrights’ Unit 2003 (More), Tarragon Playwrights’ Unit 2004 (More), and the Banff Playwrights’ Colony 2007 (More) and 2008 (Waterworks). Her play, The Eleventh David was produced in August 2006 as part of the SummerWorks Festival, to great critical and audience acclaim. Kate has written a monologue for movement and voice called The Penelope Principle. She has written two highly subscribed blogs documenting her acting experiences with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and with Billy Elliot: The Musical on Broadway. Her play Waterworks was given a reading at the Stratford Festival in 2012. Venues: The Banff Centre, Nightwood Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Blyth Festival, Grand Theatre, Shaw Festival, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Theatre Aquarius, Theatre Passe Muraille, and Volcano. Et Cetera: Kate’s writing has been funded by the Toronto Arts Council, and by the Ontario Arts Council through the Creators’ Reserve.

About the Director: Kelly Galvin

Kelly Galvin HeadshotWAM Theatre: Emilie remount (Associate Director), Artistic Associate (2012-2014), Fresh Takes Inaugural Play Reading Series (Curator and Producer), Blue Stockings reading (Director), Emilie… (Producer). Elsewhere: Directing: Southwest Shakespeare Company (Photograph 51), Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (Memorial), Shakespeare & Company (The Clean House reading, Fall Festival of Shakespeare 2008-2013, Bankside Preludes), Boston University School of Theatre (The Cherry Orchard, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Duchess of Malfi, The Tall Girls, Changes of Heart). Assistant Directing: Bedlam NYC, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Boston Center for American Performance, Shakespeare & Company. 2016 Directing Observership, Huntington Theatre Company. 2017 Artistic Development & Directing Internship, Arena Stage. Training: MFA Directing and Certificate in Arts Administration, Boston University. Wellesley College (BA, Political Theory and Theatre Studies).

ABOUT THE CAST

Nehassaiu DeGannes (Kate)

deGannes_Nehassaiu HeadshotWAM Theatre: Debut. Elsewhere: Intimate Apparel, Door of No Return, Or, (Shakespeare & Co), The Convert (Underground Railway Theatre), King Lear (Chicago Shakes), Marisol, Tallest Building In The World (Luna Stage), Doubt, A Song For My Father, (Oldcastle), Door of No Return, EQUUS with Alec Baldwin (John Drew Theatre, Guild Hall), Brave New World (Litmus/ Theatre Passe Muraille), Hamlet (Driftwood), Romeo and Juliet, Three Musketeers (Stratford Festival of Canada); and in NYC: T.B. Sheets (Buran Theater), Gertrude Stein Lab (director) & Three Gifts for Lenny Bruce, Celia (Target Margin), readings & new play development with Ensemble Studio Theatre, Red Bull, The Lark, New Dramatists, New Georges, Columbia U. Training: Trinity Rep Conservatory, Brown University MFA. Awards: Berkshire Theater Award Outstanding Supporting Actor for Or,. Center For Book Arts National Poetry Award. Etcetera: Part-Time Lecturer, Theater Program, Princeton University. Thank you Kristin, Kelly, Kate Hennig & WAM! Thank you Princeton & Jane Cox too! Online: nehassaiu.com @NehassaiuActor

John Hadden (Henry)

John Hadden full resWAM debut: The Last Wife. Elsewhere: John is a founding member of Shakespeare & Co (2016 “Berkie” award-winner), co-founder/artistic director of Counterpoint Theater (Boston), was artistic director at Hubbard Hall (Cambridge, NY), and associate artist with We Players (San Francisco). He has acted in and directed about 100 plays here and abroad, and his own plays, including stray dogs, Hard Rain, King Fool, and Women at War, have been seen at LaMaMa ETC, PS 122, EST, the National Arts Club, Arsenal Center for the Arts, The Colonial, Mixed Company, the Wharton Salon, and The Good Ear Review. A solo show, based on his book Conversations with a Masked Man: My Father, the CIA, and Me (Arcade 2016), is currently on tour. Online: johnlhadden.com.

David Joseph (Thom)

DJfullsizeTextWAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: David has been at Shakespeare & Company for twelve seasons, past roles include:  The Wharton Comedies, George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Lysander in A Midsummer Nights Dream, Elyot in Private Lives,  Dorante in The Liar, Sebastian in The Tempest, Clown 2 (12 Characters) in 39 Steps.  Other recent roles include Michael in Can You Hear Me Baby ( NYC & The Goodwill Theatre), George in WORD PLAY  at Playwrights Horizons, (NYC), Johnny in Hotel California (NYC), Coleman in I Married The Icepick Killer at Stella Adler Theatre (NYC). David is in post-production for the feature film he produced and starred in, Penny Land. Damsel by Douglas Burgdorf, another feature film, premiered at the Spain International Film Festival. Other Film credits: Romeo in Romeo & Juliet for The Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, Glowing Screens’ Magdalena’s Brain. Et Cetera: David recently earned a Best Actor nomination for playing Charlie Chaplin in The Consul, The Tramp and Americas Sweetheart at Oldcastle Theatre. In 2008 and 2010, David sang the National Anthem at Fenway Park.

Lily Linke (Mary)

Lily Linke headshotWAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: Recent credits include Good (New Repertory Theatre), Julius Caesar, 1984, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Classic Repertory Company), and The Wastelands Project (Children of the Wild). Training: She received her BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University. Et Cetera: Lily is primarily a teacher and actor/educator, and has worked in schools, theaters, and after school and summer programs on both coasts. She currently manages New Repertory Theatre’s Education department. Lily currently resides in Somerville.

Alicia Piemme Nelson (Bess)

Alicia Piemme Nelson HeadshotWAM Theatre: Debut Elsewhere: Buck Hill Productions (As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale, The Taming of the Shrew), Bay Area Children’s Theatre (The Rainbow Fish Musical, Five Little Monkeys), Boston University (Don Juan Comes Back from the War, The Cherry Orchard, Mad Forest, The Duchess of Malfi, The Tall Girls), One Year Lease – Apprenticeship (Σε Τουτο το βουνο), Tabard Theatre (You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown). Training: BFA Acting – Boston University, Physical Theatre/Clowing – Accademia dell’Arte Awards: KCACTF Region VII Finalist Online: ampnelson.com

Raoul Silver (Eddie)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWAM Theatre: Debut Film/TV: A Bread Factory Training: HB Studios, School of Rock, Brooklyn Music Factory Et cetera: Raoul is 11 years old and lives in Columbia County, NY. Upcoming: New York: Once Upon The Bronx (Theater for the New City Dream Up Festival 2017) Online: www.youtube.com/raoulsilver

OUR SEASON SPONSORS

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; and by the Massachusetts Cultural Council Cultural. Our 2017 sponsors include Adams Community Bank, the Appelbaum-Kahn Foundation, Berkshire Magazine, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, Blue Q, Brabson Library & Educational Foundation, Canyon Ranch, Custom Business Solutions, The Dylandale Foundation, The Feigenbaum Foundation, Futures Education, the Garden Gables Inn, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, In Touch Printing, International Schools Theatre Association, Interprint, Dr. Jay Wise, DDS & Dr. Casey Jones, DMD,  Lee Bank, Massachusetts Cultural Council, MAXYMILLIAN Technologies, Methuselah Bar and Lounge, No. Six Depot Roastery and Café, RB Design Co., Redfin, The Rookwood Inn, Rouge Restaurant & Bistro, The Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, T Square Design Studio, Toole Insurance, a. von schlegell & co., and Zonta.

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

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 $32,500 to twelve 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 www.WAMTheatre.com

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