THEATER REVIEW: “Where Storms Are Born” @ Williamstown [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Barbara Waldinger
The 2017 season underlines Williamstown Theatre Festival’s commitment to new work. Six of the seven plays at the Festival are new or world premiere plays. Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield, who connects playwrights with directors, actors and designers, invited established playwright Harrison David Rivers to join the Festival in 2016 as a Playwright-in-Residence, in order “to have a living, breathing artist responding to the world,” and to “let the festival respond.” Rivers said of his experience, “It was really inspiring in terms of my own writing.” This year he has returned with a world premiere production of his latest effort, Where Storms Are Born.
This work was a 2015 finalist for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and the recipient of a 2017 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. Rivers appreciates the support he has received from the Williamstown Theatre Festival: “Sometimes in a place outside of WTF, the mess of life still enters the room. And here, for the eight hours that we’re in the room together, the play is the thing, and it’s a luxury.” He adds: “The holistic nature of the art-making here contributes to the depth and the quality of the pieces on the stages.” At a time when the arts are becoming more and more marginalized, the Festival is offering a helping hand to artists.
Rivers’ depicts a loving family grappling with loss. The matriarch, Bethea (Myra Lucretia Taylor), is a widow raising her younger son Gideon (Christopher Livingston) in an apartment in Harlem, while her older son Myles (Leroy McClain), has been incarcerated at Sing Sing for the past 13 years after a drug deal spiraled out of control, leading to a fatality. Now Myles has died in prison, though he returns in flashbacks. His death is never explained or even explored.