Will Call #45 — Rebirth of a Legend, Rebirth of a Landmark with Orpheus in the Berkshires
Like Summer itself, “Orpheus in the Berkshires” enters the scene with a flourish. A wildflower bouquet of textures and colors, the piece immediately charms, providing just the right touch at this season’s picnic of theatre offerings.
In its creation, the production of “Orpheus,” from the Williamstown Theatre Festival, redefines the phrase, “community theatre.” Reframing the concept as an artistic mission to embrace an entire community as both inspiration and raw material, playwright Lucy Thurber and director Laura Savia create a fantastical world that is as familiar in its faces, strengths, and problems as the whole of the Berkshires itself.
We did something a little unusual for this episode—we went on location. That’s right, we loaded up our mobile studio (all laptop and microphone of it) and headed over to the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance at Williams College. It was so worth it. We got to speak to Obie Award-winning playwright Lucy Thurber and Williamstown Theatre Festival Associate Director Laura Savia about the World Premier of “Orpheus in the Berkshires,” being staged at the Greylock Mill (formerly known as the Cariddi Mill) on State Road in North Adams.
Also like Summer, the run of this show is desperately, heartbreakingly fleeting. See it now and see the next step in the evolution of community theatre.\\\
Community Engaged Theatre
Williamstown Theatre Festival
“Orpheus in the Berkshires”
508 State Road, North Adams, MA
7/14–16, 7:30 p.m. & 7/17 5:00 p.m.
This summer, WTF brings together professional theatre artists with Berkshire residents to create and perform new work. Born of the belief that theatre is central to understanding, building and maintaining community, this initiative invites the people of Western Massachusetts to be a part of the Festival’s creative process — not just as audience members, but on stage! Obie Award-winning playwright Lucy Thurber puts a new spin on the Orpheus myth, set in Western Massachusetts. When Orpheus, a teenage girl, realizes that something is amiss in her neighborhood, she embarks on a treacherous journey to save her hometown. Helmed by Festival Associate Director Laura Savia, and developed in collaboration with community partners, this World Premiere features a cast of 75 Berkshire residents performing alongside Festival actors.
About Williamstown Theatre Festival
Under artistic director Mandy Greenfield, Williamstown Theatre Festival, recipient of the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, creates renowned productions of both world premiere plays as well as revivals of some of the great works of the Western theatrical canon. Since 1955, Williamstown Theatre Festival has brought together gifted emerging theater artists with our country’s finest theater professionals to produce a vibrant summer season in the Berkshires, while simultaneously running one of the country’s top training and professional development programs. In 2015, the Festival launched a New Play Commissioning Program as well as a community-immersive theatre initiative, which unites professional theater artists with Berkshire residents to create new work. Playwrights under commission include Fernanda Coppel, Melissa James Gibson (co-commission with Second Stage), Halley Feiffer, Matthew Lopez, Jiehae Park, Benjamin Scheuer and Lucy Thurber. Additionally, each summer the Festival produces an array of unique cultural events including family-friendly theater, Late-Night Cabarets, music concerts and comedy. The artists and productions shaped at the Festival each summer fill theaters in New York, around the country and abroad. Recent critically acclaimed productions launched by Williamstown Theatre Festival include: Sam Shepard’s FOOL FOR LOVE directed by Daniel Aukin, starring Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell; Bernard Pomerance’s THE ELEPHANT MAN directed by Scott Ellis, starring Bradley Cooper; John Kander, Frank Ebb and Terrence McNally’s THE VISIT, directed by John Doyle, starring Chita Rivera, among many others. For more information, please visit www.wtfestival.org.