Berkshire Playwrights Lab to debut new works

Friday April 27, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Berkshire Playwrights Lab has a song to sing this summer -- many of them, in fact.

In its fifth season, Berkshire Playwrights Lab is launching Berkshire Musical Theatre Lab in collaboration with New York University's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and Bard College at Simon's Rock.

The Musical The a tre Lab will bring students in the NYU program to the Berkshires for a week-long residency that will culminate in a public performance on June 24 at 2 p.m. at Mc Connell The atre in Daniel Arts Cen ter at Sim on's Rock.

Chaired by Egre mont resident Sa rah Schlesinger, the Graduate Mus i cal Theatre Wri ting Program at NYU's Tisch School of Arts is an M.F.A. degree program specifically de signed for composers, lyricists, and bookwriters.

"These young people are some of the best and brigh test artists coming up the ladder in the American musical theater," Frangione said in the news release. "We are happy to support their efforts to breathe life into the genre "

The students, who will be hosted and housed by local families, also will present excerpts from their work as part of Berkshire Playwrights Lab's season-opening gala June 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.

The gala kicks off Berkshire Playwrights Lab's season of staged readings of new plays-in-development July 11, 23 and Aug. 8 and 22 at the Mahaiwe. The specific plays will be announced shortly.

In addition to the musical excerpts, the gala will feature a new short play by David Mamet; performances by actors Jay Thomas, Treat Williams; and other plays and actors to be announced.

The gala also will include the premiere of "Food for Thought," a short film written and directed by Berkshire Playwrights Lab co-artistic director Joe Cacaci that stars Minnie Driver, Tony Shal houb and Berkshires-based actress Meeghan Holoway.

"We've decided to mix things up this year by turning the gala into a multi-media, multi-genre extravaganza," Berk shire Play wrights Lab co-artistic director Bob Jaffe said in a news release.

"The (founding) artistic dir ectors (Cacaci, Jaffe, Matt Penn and Jim Frangione) are ex cited about this new take on our annual fundraising event."

Founded in 2007, Berkshire Playwrights Lab is dedicated exclusively to developing and presenting new plays through readings.

In its first four years, the Lab has staged readings of more than 50 new plays, many of which have gone on to full productions, among them Kelly Masterson's "Against the Ris ing Sea" at Queens Theatre in the Park; Chris Newbound's "The Birthday Boy" at Berk shire Theatre Festival; Kate Wen ner's "Make Sure It's Me" at Stage Left Theatre; Jona than Caren's "The Recom men dation" at the Old Globe; Andrew Dolan's "The Many Mistresses of Martin Luther King" at Ensemble Studio The a tre in Los Angeles; and, later this summer, Kelly Mas terson's "Edith" at Berkshire Theatre Group. Also, Matt Hoverman's "The Glint" has been optioned for Broadway.

Complete information about Berkshire Playwrights Lab is available online at

To reach Jeffrey Borak:,
or (413) 496-6212.
On Twitter: @BE_Theater


Berkshire Playwrights Lab Fifth Season Gala: $27-$52 (performance only); $202 (performance and post-show reception with the artists at Castle Street Café)

Four staged readings and NYU Berkshire Musical Theatre Lab performance: $10 (suggested donation)


Gala and Mahaiwe readings: (413) 644-9040; Mahaiwe box office in person.

NYU Berkshire Musical Theatre Lab performance: (413) 528-2544; email @


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