Posts Tagged ‘The Williamstown Theatre Festival’

Talking with Justin Long about “Living On Love” at Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
Justin Long (l) and Renee Fleming

Justin Long (l) and Renee Fleming

Interview and preview of “Living on Love” by Larry Murray

Sitting down with Justin Long, it cames as no surprise that he is passionate about theater, film and the stage. (He has been seen in WTF’s One Slight Hitch and Seminar). What is a revelation is his incredibly fast mind, combined with an earthiness and passion that reveals what is truly important to him. It’s not fame, parties or celebrity. Turns out he really loves the mountains, the fresh air and the Williamstown Theatre Festival which brings him to our doorstep. Sitting down to talk with Justin during rehearsals for the world premiere Main Stage production, Joe DiPietro’s Living on Love, we learned a lot about Long and were surprised by his honesty and candor.

He’s part of a great cast that is preparing Living With Love which runs from Wednesday (July 16)-July 26. It also includes Anna Chlumsky (In the Loop, “Veep”), Renée Fleming (Le Nozze di Figaro, La Traviata), Blake Hammond (First Date, Sister Act), Scott Robertson (Cabaret, Damn Yankees), and Douglas Sills (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Little Shop of Horrors).

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“A Great Wilderness” at WTF: A Story About Evangelicals Who Think They Can “Pray the Gay Away” [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 14th, 2014
From left: Mia Dillon, Jeffrey DeMunn, Tasha Lawrence and Kevin Geer. (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

From left: Mia Dillon, Jeffrey DeMunn, Tasha Lawrence and Kevin Geer (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: If the purpose of this play is to evoke a visceral reaction, it has succeeded beyond the playwright’s wildest dreams. I hated it.

In the program notes, playwright Samuel D. Hunter prepares us for A Great Wilderness by revealing that “I wasn’t completely sure I even wanted to write the play.” As a gay man who just saw it I would like to state, gently, that I am not sure I really wanted to see the play, either, Sam.

Still you have to give points to the Williamstown Theatre Festival for having the audacity to undertake it. WTF has a real passion for exploring the human condition, so it fits right in with their dramatic profile, focusing more on the people than the issues as a way of trying to understand them.

Gail M. Burns: I wanted to see it. I find the question of “curing” or “fixing” LGBT people as abhorrent as you, and I don’t understand the mindset that finds it not only a rational idea, but a necessary one. I came away with a better understanding of the fundamentalist Christian worldview.

Larry: To be clear, the play is about the characters, not the issues, and at the center of this gang of evangelical Christians is Walt (Jeffrey DeMunn) whose opening lines were said softly so as not to alarm Daniel (Steven Amenta). The young man, who got caught looking at gay porn on the computer, was unceremoniously shipped off to Walt to get the gay out of him, and was very soft-spoken as well. At intermission, I heard some people commenting they could barely make out their initial conversations, so I was relieved it wasn’t just me.

Director Eric Ting strived for realism in the dialogue, an admirable choice, but did it so well he left much of the audience, many of whom are older ticket buyers, wondering what was actually being said as Walt tried to assure Daniel there would be no shock therapy, just prayer, conversation and the isolation of the woods where there were no signals for the teen’s smartphone.

Gail: Despite my own hearing loss, I am famous for being able to hear and understand every word spoken or sung on a stage – even when I can’t hear my own husband sitting next to me (usually something about washing the dishes) – but even my well-tempered ears strained to hear much of this play. I heard it, but it wasn’t easy! I would suggest that either the actors project or some area mics be employed.

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Jenny Gersten Leaving the Williamstown Theatre Festival at End of Year [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, October 17th, 2013
Jenny Gersten has served as Artistic Director of WTF for two seasons.(photo: Larry Murray)

Jenny Gersten has served as Artistic Director of WTF for two seasons.(photo: Larry Murray)

It was announced today that Williamstown Theatre Festival Artistic Director Jenny Gersten will step down at the end of 2013. She begins a new job as Executive Director of New York’s High Line in January. In a note to friends and colleagues, she wrote:

“It’s with a heavy heart that I prepare to leave the Williamstown Theatre Festival, which has been my home for many years. However, the opportunity to work at the High Line provides me a way to offer service and imaginative programming to a very special part of a city I love – my hometown. It was irresistible. I’m thrilled to be able to stay on to oversee the 2014 season artistically. It promises to be a very special summer, and I’m happy to keep ties to a place I hold dear.” – Jenny Gersten

The Williamstown Theatre Festival congratulated her on her move to become Executive Director of Friends of the Highline, the non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and re-use of an elevated railway that has become a renowned public space in New York City. While the search is underway for a new Artistic Director, WTF’s 2014 summer season will remain under Gersten’s Artistic Direction; she will curate and oversee the season to ensure a seamless leadership transition. Among the possible projects for Summer ’14 is Chita Rivera in The Visit in a pre-Broadway production. Rivera acts as if it is a fact, but when we checked with Gersten, she was appropriately tight lipped. {article here}

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