From the Artistic Director
Each year, when I think about asking you to support Williamstown Theatre Festival, I am moved to write a few words about the THEATRE, with a capital “t” – to wax poetic about the state of our art and the state of our world and the degree to which theatre artists are working to wake our nation to both the dark corners and beautiful possibilities of being alive through the enterprise of putting on a play. I usually espouse the importance of supporting new work – of taking meaningful artistic risk; I make the case for why living theatre artists wrestle with, open up, dramatize, probe and plumb the questions we need to answer to survive as a culture – as many cultures – together. I emphasize the importance of laughing together, crying together and of artistic excellence that places diverse storytellers and storytelling at its center. But my words are not my work – the plays we produce and the artists we bring together to make them are.
So, this year, let me share the words of playwright Martyna Majok with you. Martyna is the winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama – an honor she received for her play COST OF LIVING, the world premiere of which we developed and produced at Williamstown Theatre Festival.
The first day I met Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield, she committed to producing COST OF LIVING. At the time, COST OF LIVING was unfinished. It didn’t even have a title. It’s a play that’s very close to my heart but it’s also one I thought I’d have to fight to get produced. I was unknown. And knew no one. COST OF LIVING had no stars attached, no promise of success. It wasn’t what’s referred to as “sexy” in the American theatre. It was a play I wrote with my whole soul and felt an urgent need to make. It resurrected people from my life who are now gone. It let me relive where I grew up. It helped me process grief and class and how to move forward when life breaks. But I had no guarantee that anybody would care. Mandy believed in me as a writer; the Festival could offer me the time, space, developmental structure, collaborators and partnership to ensure that this play could exist as its fullest self. She and the institution embraced a story rarely seen on stage. COST OF LIVING is written for two actors with physical disabilities. Three of the four characters are first or second generation immigrants. The majority are low income or working class. Williamstown Theatre Festival makes room – actually insists on room – for unseen stories, for works that open up pockets of the human experience rarely seen or supported by the American theatre. The Festival connects with and drives our cultural conversation through its support of American storytelling. It’s telling the American story as it’s lived.
With your support, important, urgent stories will be told at the highest standard of artistic excellence. With your support, Williamstown Theatre Festival will spark the next great national conversation about inclusion and diversity. With your support, hundreds of early-career theatre-makers will learn how to bring to life an untold story – how to make a world premiere play or musical that could transport and transform an audience. With your support, another playwright, with an untitled, unfinished, perhaps yet unwritten play, will go on to win the Pulitzer Prize.
Martyna’s words – like those in her play – are true. Your generous donation this spring will enable us to take the kind of bold, daring artistic leaps that lead to meaningful cultural impact and transformation; together, we will support and unleash the next, great American theatre artists on the universe. And, we might also enjoy a good laugh or a cathartic cry together along the way!
I hope that you will give purposefully, proudly, and, of course, generously to support Williamstown Theatre Festival. Our artists and the stories we tell depend on you. Thank you for your enduring support. I look forward to seeing you and sharing our work with you this summer in Williamstown.
With gratitude and warm regards,
Thank you for considering a tax-deductible gift to Williamstown Theatre Festival. Your generosity fuels our ability to create the extraordinary works of theatre that have become our trademark over the last 63 years.
But there’s so much more to the Festival than what you see on stage. As a donor, you’re also supporting educational opportunities like the Professional Training Program – the nation’s premier training ground for the next generation of theatre artists, technicians, and administrators. Donations also help fund year-round play development activities including artist fellowships, play readings, and workshops. Moreover, your support of the Festival helps strengthen an institution that generates critical and significant economic activity in Berkshire County.
In recognition of your generosity, we offer a host of benefits and privileges, including priority ticket handling, behind-the-scenes access, and invitations to special donor events. Peruse the giving levels and please consider making a gift today!