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LENOX — As WAM Theatre mounts its 15th Anniversary Season, its Board of Directors is thrilled to announce visionary artist-activist Genée Coreno as the company’s new Artistic Director. Coreno comes to WAM from the leadership team at Every Mother Counts, and formerly held artistic roles at The Public Theater and Big Dance Theater. She will succeed Kristen van Ginhoven, WAM’s co-founder and Producing Artistic Director, who has stepped down after leading the company for 14 years. Coreno will co-lead the organization with Managing Director Molly Merrihew.
“After a comprehensive nationwide search, we are beyond excited to have Genée Coreno join us as WAM’s new Artistic Director,” said WAM Theatre Board of Trustees President Toni Buckley. Buckley led the national search, alongside four other search committee members, including Board Members Carolyn Butler and Nicole Young Martin, and senior leadership team members, Merrihew and Associate Artistic Director Talya Kingston.
“Finding the next artist activist to follow in the footsteps of our founder, Kristen van Ginhoven, was a huge undertaking,” continued Buckley. “Throughout the search process, we were honored to meet many inspiring, talented, and passionate theater professionals from around the country. Genée is a cutting-edge multi-disciplinary theatre artist and producer with a life-long commitment to activism and a deep connection to our mission of gender equality. We’re thrilled she’s making WAM her home, and co-leading us into this new phase for our WAM community, our art and our activism.”“It is my honor to be the next Artistic Director of WAM Theatre,” said Coreno. “WAM was founded with the aim to invite artists and audiences to end the oppression of girls and women– inspiring a fairer and freer world through pertinent theater-making and storytelling. Time continues to reveal the many ways racism, climate, war, politics, violence, and the economy continue to disproportionately impact outcomes for women – especially for Black, brown, Indigenous and trans women – but I am optimistic that arts organizations like WAM are powerful avenues for awareness-raising, community-building, and social justice. As WAM’s next Artistic Director, I look forward to continuing Kristen van Ginhovens vision and co-generating an ecosystem where bold and rigorous women-centered work will flourish.”
Genée is a theatre director and creative professional with a track record of effective non-profit management. She holds over 10 years of experience providing creative and skillful leadership to high-profile female founders, artistic directors, and artists. Past experience includes four and a half years in operations, development, and engagement at Every Mother Counts, a maternal health organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe, respectful, and equitable for everyone. Prior to Every Mother Counts, Genée was predominantly a company manager at The Public Theater and Big Dance Theater as well as an Artistic Associate for Ripe Time and supported the Marketing Team at Third Rail Projects. In addition to her full-time work, Genée founded Fringe and Fur, a theater company that creates performances that examine the way identity and fantasy are transformed by gender, violence, and environment. Fringe and Fur devised and produced five original works presented in Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Fringe and Fur’s landmark pandemic production, Madge Love, played to critical-acclaim, with the NYTimes calling it “a good looking production…about the connection between sex, violence and female suffering at the hands of men…” reflecting the company’s dedication to telling unapologetic stories that center women and girls. Genée has an MA in Performance Studies from NYU and a BA in Drama Studies from Purchase College. She has trained with Theater Mitu, Song of the Goat Theater, SITI Company, and New York State Theater Institute (NYSTI). Genée looks forward to making WAM her home and encountering all of the creativity the Berkshires have to offer.
Founder Kristen van Ginhoven shared, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to pass the baton to Genée as WAM’s next Artistic Director. Given her professional accomplishments and personal passions, WAM makes perfect sense as the next place she’d want to be of service in her career. As someone who has both run her own grassroots theatre company and worked at large budget innovative arts and activist institutions, I am incredibly excited for the fresh energy and vision Genée will contribute to WAM as the next Artistic Director. I look forward to welcoming her and her family to the Berkshires.” “I’m overjoyed to have Genée join our team,” said Merrihew. “Together, along with WAM’s incredible board, artists and team, we will continue to advocate for a world where women and girls have equal opportunities and equal access to learning, earning, creative expression, and aspiration. As we enter this special 15th anniversary season, we are excited to tell more stories and share transformational theatre about women’s lives as a vehicle for activism and change.”
“Genée is an exciting, forward-thinking, and multi-disciplinary theatre artist,” added Kingston, WAM’s Artistic Associate. “Her theatrical productions utilize gestures and embodied movement as much as verbal language to tell stories, and organically layer in design elements including projection and original scores. I’m looking forward to the new collaborators and visions that she’ll bring to WAM Theatre’s stages and to the way her productions will shine a light on the social justice issues of our time.”Coreno joins the team as WAM prepares to announce its 15th Anniversary Season, which has been thoughtfully curated by WAM’s 2023 Artistic Team and Literary Committee. To be the first to hear about WAM Theatre’s 15th Anniversary Season sign up for our newsletter here or visit wamtheatre.com.
MORE ABOUT GENÉE CORENO:
Genée Coreno (she/her) is a director and producer with a passion for devised theater created in collaboration with women, girls, and non-binary artists and designers. WAM Theatre: Incoming Artistic Director and life-long admirer. Selected Directing Credits: Outside (Culture Lab, LIC), Madge Love (Theater Mitu & The Brick), The Hopelessly Hopeless Story of All Good Girls (The Brick), “Is This Clear Enough?” (The Poetry Project), Dutchman (UnUrban Cafe, LA), Selected Producing Credits: The Possessed Girls of St. Mary’s (Reading, at Brick Aux), thisamericanplay (pop-up theater by Blue Flamingo), The Stronger & Mother Love (Alchemical Studios), The World is Round (BAM Fisher). Select Company Management Credits: Under the Radar Festival (The Public Theater), The Outer Space (The Public Theater), National Mobile Unit Tour of Sweat (The Public Theater), Mobile Unit’s Twelfth Night (The Public Theater), Various Performances (Big Dance Theater). Community Engagement/Activist Work: Former Manager of Development and Engagement at Every Mother Counts and Clinic Escort at Choices; Adjunct Professor at Purchase College, Women and Performance. Training: MA in Performance Studies, NYU; BA in Drama Studies, Purchase College; Embodied Voice: Intensive Vocal Workshop; The Song of the Goat; SITI Company Summer Intensive; Theater Mitu Artist Fellowship (Japan). Creative Inspiration: I’m inspired by large-scale international work that demonstrates a commitment to dance theater practices and film-making.
MORE ABOUT THE TEAM:
Toni Buckley (She/Her, Board President) is a higher education administrator and storyteller with commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion with Syrian-German roots. Toni is currently the President of WAM’s Board of Directors and is serving her third year with WAM. Toni’s professional and volunteer experience has always been at the intersection of art and activism. Her background as a professional photographer, experience running programs like the Berkshire Immigrant Stories and Road Scholar, and her current role as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Berkshire Community College, led to her involvement with WAM on a deeper level. Toni has previously served on the NAACP – Berkshire Branch’s Executive Committee, the Pittsfield Human Rights Commission, the MASS MoCA Community Advisory Network, the Steering Committee of the Four Freedoms Coalition, the Berkshire Leadership Impact Council, and other nonprofits, arts, and community organizations. In 2020, Toni was awarded one of 40 Under Forty young professionals who make a difference in Berkshire County. She is finishing up her second master’s degree, this one in Management of Nonprofits and Cultural Organizations. After eight years of living in the United States, Toni recently discovered a beautiful place to call home, among the woods and hills of Berkshire County where she plans to turn into a “real New Englander” and live happily ever after with her husband, her baby, and her two cats.
Talya Kingston (She/Her, Associate Artistic Director) is a dramaturg, playwright, and educator, who is inspired by the live interactions between artists and audiences and how these can be a catalyst for social change. Prior to joining WAM in 2018, she was a Visiting Professor of Theatre at Hampshire College. She has also held the positions of Education Director at Hartford Stage and of Educational Programs Coordinator at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco. Talya is originally from Britain and returned for five recent summers to co-teach a University of Massachusetts course at the Edinburgh Festival. Talya’s writing on theatre has appeared in Theater Journal, Scene Magazine, The Moving Voice, European Stages, HowlRound, and The Valley Advocate. Talya curates WAM’s Fresh Takes Play Reading Series and has directed readings of Swallow, Paradise, Campus Unrest, and The Thanksgiving Play. Her professional dramaturgy credits include: What The Constitution Means to Me, ROE and Lady Randy at WAM; the premiere of Eve Ensler’s Necessary Targets at Hartford Stage/Variety Arts Theatre; the US premiere of Helmet by Douglas Maxwell at the New York Fringe Festival; an immersive production of The Lonely Soldier Project by Helen Benedict;Seriously… What Did You Call Me? written and performed by Onawumni Jean Moss at the Ko Festival; and Late Style, a stage adaptation of conversations between Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim featuring performances by members of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Talya is a member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, the Dramatists Guild, the Play Incubation Collective and the Northampton Playwrights Lab, and holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Molly Merrihew (She/ Her, Managing Director) is an arts executive and nonprofit leader with over a decade of experience in the nonprofit theatre and the for-profit arts and entertainment sector. She has worked collaboratively with organizations, artists, and clients ranging from grassroots ensembles to multimillion-dollar non-profit institutions and for-profit creative enterprises. Molly is a proud advocate of the Berkshire arts community, and her consulting work has also brought her to Boston and New York City. From activist art in found-spaces, to large scale Shakespearean festivals and award-winning audiobook launches, Molly is energized by passionate artists, creative thinkers, and an innate curiosity to meet new people and learn new things. Recent work experience includes spending the past four years at WAM Theatre as Managing Director. Molly spent eight years at Shakespeare & Company working in PR and Marketing. Molly’s journey with WAM actually began in 2014, when she spent four years in the role of Artistic Associate, curating and producing the Fresh Takes Reading Series. After that, she served on WAM’s Strategic Planning and Hospitality Committees for two years. Before moving to the Berkshires, Molly worked at the Florida Studio Theatre in a variety of capacities including communications and patron services. In addition to her full-time work, Molly has led consulting projects for artist organizations and projects in a variety of roles including lead strategist, project manager, grant reviewer, and copywriter. Molly has an M.S. in Arts Administration with a Graduate Certificate in Fundraising Management from Boston University. She graduated with a B.A. in Theatre and English-Creative Writing from the State University of New York at Potsdam. More recently, Molly completed the ‘Transformational Leadership Program for Non-Profit Leaders’ at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. She is the co-chair of Berkshire County Development Alliance, a member of the Berkshire Business & Professional Women association, and a BRIDGE Race Task Force member.
WAM’s sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Blue Q., Berkshire Roots, Blue Spark Financial, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Garden Gables Inn, Guidos Fresh Marketplace, Handful Photography, Mill Town Foundation, Inc., Health Professional Coaching, Heller & Robbins Attorneys at Law, Interprint, Onyx Specialty Papers, Outpost Productions, RB Design Co., T Square Design Studio, Toole Insurance, a. von schlegell & co, and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.
WAM Theatre is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). WAM Theatre’s 2022 Season was also supported in part by grants from Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Bradson Education & Library Foundation, The Feigenbaum Foundation, Lee Bank Foundation, Scarlet Sock Foundation, U.S. Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant; as well as grants from the Dalton Cultural Council, Lee Cultural Council, Lenox Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Northern Berkshire Cultural Council, Otis Cultural Council, Sandisfield Cultural Council, and Washington Cultural Council.
ABOUT WAM THEATRE
WAM Theatre is a professional theatre company based in Berkshire County, MA, that operates at the intersection of arts and activism. Now celebrating its 15th Anniversary Season, WAM creates theatre for gender equity and has a vision of theatre as philanthropy. In fulfillment of its philanthropic mission, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from their Mainstage productions to carefully selecte recipients. Since WAM’s founding in 2010, they have donated more than $100,000 to 26 local and global organizations taking action for gender equity in areas such as girls education, reproductive justice, sexual trafficking awareness, midwife training, and more. WAM Theatre has been widely recognized for having a positive impact on cultural and community development in the region. WAM is the recipient of the Creative Economy Standout Berkshire Trendsetter Award and previously, was named Outstanding Philanthropy Corporation of the Year by the Western MA Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. For more information, visit www.wamtheatre.com
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