Community-engaged theatre that WORKS!
COMMUNITY WORKS is Williamstown Theatre Festival’s year-round community-engaged theatre program that brings together hundreds of Berkshire area residents from all walks of life. These diverse constituencies are connected with professional theatre artists and with each other through workshops, rehearsals, and a professional-caliber production on the Main Stage at the Festival, presented free of charge for more than 2,000 locals.
Workshops that are open to the public will be clearly marked below as OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. If you are affiliated with an organization that is listed below as a host for an event that is not open to the public, please contact an administrator at that organization regarding attendance.
Wednesday, June 17, 5:00 pm EST / via Facebook Live
Join the COMMUNITY WORKS team for a theatre workshop via Facebook Live! All ages welcome — no prior experience is required! Full household participation is encouraged! An audio-captioned recording of the workshop will also be available. Email Hayley at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. We hope you can join us!
OUR ORIGIN STORY
In July of 2015, Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield charged Associate Director Laura Savia and Obie Award-winning playwright Lucy Thurber with creating a multi-year initiative that would build meaningful relationships with our neighbors in the Berkshires, bring together participants from diverse economic and social backgrounds, and make the Festival more accessible than ever.
The resulting year-round community immersive theatre project, COMMUNITY WORKS, invites the people of Western Massachusetts to be a part of the Festival’s creative process – not just as audience members, but on stage as well!
Throughout the fall, winter, and spring, WTF personnel and key Festival artists – like Broadway actors Thomas Sadoski and Saidah Arrika Ekulona – conduct acting, playwriting, and story-circle workshops with our community partner organizations. These workshops are where we build trust, teach theatre skills, and hear the local stories that inspire our summer production.
In the summer, WTF brings its world-class design and creative talent to the project, mounting a full production of a new, free, family-friendly play. Community cast members, many of whom are first-time actors, have costume fittings and rehearse in the same spaces as our veteran actors. Finally, the show is performed – music, choreography, and, of course, the people and stories of the Berkshires flood the stage.
COMMUNITY WORKS is an antidote to Facebook filter bubbles and echo chambers. Participants must interact and engage with people unlike themselves in an environment that embraces diversity and encourages risk-taking.
The results are clear and remarkable: by coming together in one equalizing rehearsal room, putting on costumes, and telling a story for free to everyone else in their community, participants go from a nervous group of 100+ strangers at first rehearsal to a tight-knit family by closing night, with bonds that defy socio-economic class, race, gender, and age. Attendance at our 2017 COMMUNITY WORKS production, Once Upon a Time in the Berkshires, was at capacity (more than 2,000 over four packed performances), and the response of participants and audiences alike was extraordinary.
“Last year, at this time I was homeless. This year, professional pictures were taken of me in costume… I came from over 30 years of abuse. I’ve found my voice and my courage. For me, it’s been miraculous.”
Here is what other COMMUNITY WORKS participants had to say:
“The experience confirmed my perception that theatre can be a unifying force.”
“Personally, I have gained back a little of my faith in humanity because of my experience working on this project… I have also gained more confidence in myself.”
“In a time where the world is so crazy, it was such a nice relief to be involved with a group where age, race, orientation, etc. didn’t matter in the least and we all came together to create something beautiful.”
“I’m proud of the people who had the guts to get out there and do stuff they’d never done before. I’m proud of WTF for taking this step.”
“Different people, coming from different walks of life, all collaborating on a single creation, is truly something that I am proud to be a part of. To me, this is what being human is about. I wish there was more of this powerful, breathtaking, positive energy in our world today.”
Berkshire On Stage called the production “poignant and relevant” and “something approaching miraculous.” They went on to say: “But the most moving element of this production is the diversity of the cast—senior actors paired with children, performers of every race and type, including Banshees in wheelchairs escorted onstage by assistants, and a message of inclusion that teaches us what can be possible in our fractured world.”
COMMUNITY WORKS is only possible through the generous support of donors, whose contributions enable the program to have the broadest and deepest impact on our community.
Your contribution in support of COMMUNITY WORKS will help:
- Bring theatre to people who wouldn’t otherwise experience it
- Provide educational and cultural opportunities for youth and senior citizens
- Promote discourse and relationship-building across communities
- Teach community engagement best practices to a new generation of artists
- Create a world premiere production, based on the lives and stories that impact our community
- Grow our program, raise the standard of excellence for our productions, and forge new partnerships with increasingly diverse populations
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation in support of COMMUNITY WORKS today.
Monday, May 11, 5:00 pm EST / via Facebook Live
Join the COMMUNITY WORKS team and guest playwright James Anthony Tyler (ARTNEY JACKSON) for a workshop on comedy! Known for his character-driven comedies with lots of heart, James will show us how to set the scene for a side-splitting scenario — no laugh track needed! Click here to access a recording of the workshop.
Tuesday, April 14, 5:00-5:45pm / via Facebook Live
Join us on FACEBOOK LIVE for a workshop exploring how an actor approaches their script. Through simple and fun exercises, you’ll speak powerful, theatrical language with confidence. No prior experience is necessary and all ages are welcome. Full household participation is encouraged! We will offer an audio-only version of the workshop by phone at 5:00pm EST the following day. Click here to access a recording of the workshop.
THEATRE WORKSHOP – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Saturday, February 15, 11:30-1:00pm / The Harper Center – 118 Church Street, Williamstown MA
Laura Savia (Associate Artistic Director), Hayley Sherwood (Community Works Associate) and a professional guest artist will lead the group in a workshop on the fundamentals of acting. Through simple and fun group exercises, you can step inside the creative process. No prior experience is required! Special thanks to the Williamstown Council on Aging for hosting.
REID MIDDLE SCHOOL
COMMUNITY WORKS Associate Hayley Sherwood will facilitate a workshop on how to make your own play, and you don’t even need a pen!
THEATRE WORKSHOP – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Saturday, December 14, 11am-12:30pm / Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Pittsfield
Join COMMUNITY WORKS Associate Hayley Sherwood for a workshop on adding movement and sound to stage pictures, therefore creating the foundation of theatrical storytelling. No prior experience is required!
Williamstown Theatre Festival THEATRE WORKSHOP
Sunday, November 3, 2019/Williamstown Youth Center
Associate Artistic Director Laura Savia led the group in a workshop on acting and stage pictures. Through simple and fun group exercises, participants stepped inside the creative process. (VIDEO here!) Special thanks to The Williamstown Youth Center for hosting.
OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS:
OUR FUNDING PARTNERS:
HARRIS FAMILY FOUNDATION
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.
Explore the WTF Production Archive
By Phone: 413.458.3200
By Email: email@example.com
By Snail Mail: PO Box 517
Williamstown, MA 01267