Although this year has been different, WTF remains the theatrical powerhouse that drives the development of new work for audiences in Williamstown and beyond through our year-round New Play & Musical Development Initiative, fellowships and commissions, and our 2020 season, produced in an audio-only format in collaboration with Audible, the leading creator and provider of premium audio storytelling. We continued our free COMMUNITY WORKS theatre workshops and Lawn Talks with our 2020 Artists-in-Residence online, we centered BIPOC voices with our Pass The Mic series, and, with the WTF Season on Audible, we kept artists employed and engaged in the development and creation of art while also expanding our reach far beyond the Berkshires, to audiences around the globe.
As has been the case for six years now, the work we develop and produce continues to expand to provide opportunities for more and wildly diverse artists and serve a broader community. In the midst of a national and industry-wide call for racial justice and reform, WTF continues to listen to the wisdom of anti-racism resources and to the insight of BIPOC artists, administrators, and alumni as we analyze our long history, our past and current practices, and our culture. The Festival is engaged in a staff- and board-wide anti-racism training with artEquity and has established EDI working groups to engage in the ongoing work of interrogating and dismantling the Festival’s harmful practices and systems. We are committed to realizing our Anti-Racism Commitment and manifesting true equity, diversity, and inclusion, on stage and off.
Throughout 2020, Williamstown Theatre Festival has continued to create theatre and unite artists and community members in this new remote environment, thanks to the unwavering support of our Trustees, donors, community members, staff, and artists.
Scroll to read more about what WTF was up to in 2020!
2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the world. In response, Williamstown Theatre Festival embarked upon an innovative artistic endeavor, ensuring that the voices of our artists can be heard loudly and clearly around the globe. This is the WTF Season on Audible.
Collaborating with the leading creator and provider of premium audio storytelling, WTF has turned obstacle into invention and limitation into access: producing a full season of new and reimagined works defined by artistic excellence, cultural relevance, and unbounded reach. This is a season artfully crafted with some of the most influential and provocative American theatre artists of today to meet the challenges and opportunities of this extraordinary moment; a season for a new medium and a new stage; a season created and performed by diverse artistic voices, mirroring the diversity of theatre lovers worldwide who now have a front-row seat. This is pure theatrical creation amplified and democratized, designed for a global audience at an hour when theatre’s power to inspire, move, and heal is most needed.
You can enjoy the WTF Season on Audible wherever and whenever you want, unlimited by space or time. Inside your headphones, a truly unique experience awaits: daring, exhilarating, engaging… and most importantly yours. A theatre you alone inhabit yet experience with an audience listening all over the world.
Wherever you are, we invite you to press play and immerse yourself in the WTF Season on Audible.
Williamstown Theatre Festival continues its tradition of developing and producing artistically vibrant and culturally resonant plays and musicals and incubating the next generation of great theatre artists. As a result of WTF’s robust and comprehensive generative process, shows commissioned, developed, and premiered at the Festival “turn up with astonishing regularity on New York stages” (The New York Times) and around the country each season.
The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp, which had its world premiere at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2018 and moved to Broadway in 2019, received six 2020 Tony Award nominations, including Best Play, Best Direction of a Play, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play. Click here to explore the WTF production. Click here to explore the Broadway production.
The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams, which was developed and produced at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2016 and moved to Broadway in 2019, received two 2020 Tony Award nominations. Click here to explore the WTF production. Click here to explore the Broadway production.
Grand Horizons by Bess Wohl, which had its world premiere at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2019, opened on Broadway in 2020 and garnered two 2020 Tony nominations, including Best Play. Grand Horizons is a Williamstown Theatre Festival and Second Stage Theater Co-Commission. WTF Commissions are made possible through the Andrew Martin-Weber New Play and Musical Commissioning Program. Click here to explore the WTF production.
Seared by Theresa Rebeck, which was produced at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2018 and moved off-Broadway in 2019, received four 2020 Outer Critics Circle Awards, two 2020 Lortel Award nominations, and a 2020 Drama Desk Award nomination. Click here to explore the WTF production. Click here to explore the off-Broadway production.
Unknown Soldier, with book & lyrics by Daniel Goldstein and music & lyrics by Michael Friedman, opened off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in February 2020. Click here to explore the WTF production. Click here to explore the off-Broadway production.
Selling Kabul by Sylvia Khoury, which had its world premiere at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2019, was set to open off-Broadway in March 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has now been announced as part of Playwrights Horizons’ 2021 season, with dates to be announced. Selling Kabul was produced in association with Playwrights Horizons. Selling Kabul is the recipient of the 2018 L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award, administered by Williamstown Theatre Festival. Click here to explore the WTF production. Click here to explore the off-Broadway production.
Lempicka, with book & lyrics by Carson Kreitzer and music by Matt Gould, was scheduled to open at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego in May 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has now been announced as part of the 2021 season, with dates to be announced later. Click here to explore the WTF production. Click here to explore the La Jolla production.
ANDREW MARTIN-WEBER NEW PLAY AND MUSICAL COMMISSIONING PROGRAM
Established in 2015, the Andrew Martin-Weber New Play and Musical Commissioning Program annually commissions and develops three to six projects from playwrights, composers, and other generative artists from across the career spectrum. Each commission also includes at least one writing residency at the Festival.
The 2020 commission recipients are Stacy Osei-Kuffour, Mona Pirnot, and Harrison David Rivers. The Andrew Martin-Weber New Play and Musical Commissioning Program is made possible by generous support from James & Virginia Giddens, The Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund, and Andrew Martin-Weber.
2020 L. ARNOLD WEISSBERGER NEW PLAY AWARD
Williamstown Theatre Festival administers the annual L. Arnold Weissberger Award on behalf of the Anna L. Weissberger Foundation. Named for the noted theatrical attorney and avid theatre supporter L. Arnold Weissberger, the award recognizes excellence in playwriting. The recipient of the award receives a $10,000 grant, and the winning script receives a reading produced by Williamstown Theatre Festival during the following season, as well as optional publication by Samuel French, Inc. The playwright whose work is honored also receives the Jay Harris Commission in the amount of $10,000 to write a new play. Each year, theatres, agents, and playwriting programs across the country are invited to nominate scripts. Finalists are then chosen by Festival artistic staff and read blindly by a select panel of industry judges.
The 2020 L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award was given to Sanaz Toossi for her play English, chosen by finalist judges Adam Bock, Donja R. Love, Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Marjan Neshat, and Robert O’Hara.
In spite of the difficulties presented by the pandemic, Williamstown Theatre Festival was still able to host a number of Artists-in-Residence as they developed new work this summer. The 2020 Artists-in-Residence were: Obie Award winner Trip Cullman (Before The Meeting), Drama Desk Award winner Joshua Harmon (Admissions), Pulitzer Prize winner and 2017 WTF Playwright-in-Residence Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop), L. Arnold Weissberger Award winner and Jay Harris Commissionee Sylvia Khoury (Selling Kabul), Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok (Cost of Living), and Drama Desk Award nominee Tyne Rafaeli (Row).
While in residence, some of the artists took part in a new socially-distanced series of Lawn Talks. Follow the links below to see recordings of some of these conversations between the 2020 Artists-in-Residence and WTF Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield.
2020 WTF FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENTS
In 2020, WTF also continued its three fellowships, naming Maya Davis as the Boris Sagal Directing Fellow, Tyler Thomas as the Bill Foeller Directing Fellow, and Charlie Barnett IV as the J. Michael Friedman Fellow. Learn more about the fellows here.
WTF engaged these fellowship recipients in an artistic track that deepens the Festival’s relationship with them and highlights their work and accomplishments, even in these uncertain times. As part of our collaboration with Audible, each fellowship recipient had the opportunity to join a WTF Season on Audible production as assistant director. They will also be given space and time in a New York City rehearsal studio (when allowed by local and state guidelines) to work on projects of their choosing.
PASS THE MIC
In the summer of 2020, WTF launched a series of conversations on our social media platforms, in which we endeavored to amplify the perspectives of BIPOC artists. The series, dubbed “Pass The Mic”, included multiple Instagram live conversations and two Facebook Live panels, and featured numerous BIPOC artists and Festival alumni.
2020 has proven that in times of change, challenges, and loss, community is more important than ever. Although the pandemic caused us to move our programming online, COMMUNITY WORKS was as active as ever and engaged with thousands of our Berkshire area neighbors through Zoom, Facebook Live, and the good old-fashioned telephone this year. We offered monthly, participatory skill-building workshops on Facebook Live on topics ranging from directing to choreography to design, garnering thousands of views. We ran more than 40 private workshops with organizations including the Brien Center and Pittsfield District Attorney’s Office often featuring special guest artists. We continued to run our Playwriting Intensive, nurturing the work of local playwrights under the leadership of Lucy Thurber, and offering an annual culminating reading of their work read by professional and community actors alike. We offered two skill-building workshops via telephone, and put all of our public workshops on YouTube. Along with other Public Works Affiliate Network member theatres, we created a piece of visual art with our community. And we began plans for our first-ever scene study workshop and first-ever Spanish language theatre workshop, coming in 2021. We desperately miss seeing our neighbors in person, but we are grateful for all of the art-making we have done together this year.
CLICK HERE to learn more about COMMUNITY WORKS, and find links to recordings of all of our online public workshops!
Thank you to our generous COMMUNITY WORKS sponsors:
This program is supported in part by Ellen J. Bernstein, MountainOne, Steve & Andrea Ryan, grants from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Arts Build Community Initiative and Fund for Williamstown, and a grant from the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
Williamstown Theatre Festival is a recipient of an Audience (R)Evolution: Exploration Grant, funded by The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the professional not-for-profit American theatre.
Williamstown Theatre Festival is a member of the Public Works Affiliate Network.
Williamstown Theatre Festival remembers members of our extended Festival family whom we lost over the last year:
Photography provided by Jeremy Daniel, Nina Krieger, Jackson Miles, Joseph O’Malley, Aden Parsons, Daniel Rader, and Joseph Schuyler
WTF SEASON ON AUDIBLE
THANK YOU TO OUR
2020 SEASON PARTNERS
Herbert A. Allen
James & Virginia Giddens
Jessica & Matt Harris
Paul Neely & Susan Street
Tiger Baron Foundation
By Phone: 413.458.3200
By Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Snail Mail: PO Box 517
Williamstown, MA 01267