Letter: Barrington Stage expands its downtown footprint

For the past 23 years, Barrington Stage Company has enriched the Berkshires with its particular brand of live theater. Now, the arts organization, which came to Pittsfield in 2006, has made a contribution to urban renewal by repurposing a historic building in downtown Pittsfield as its new administrative headquarters (Eagle, July 10).

Until now, "we were scattered all over the place," said Julianne Boyd, Barrington Stage's co-founder and artistic director, in speaking of the outfit's lack of a permanent operating space. "For example, our costuming department was in six rooms in the Zion Lutheran Church on First Street. Our performers had to go down there to get their costumes fitted. We had rehearsal spaces with poles in the middle. You can't have a pole in the middle of a stage."

Thanks to a $900,000 donation from long time supporters and part-time Pittsfield residents Jessie and Bernard Wolfson, who specified that they wanted the headquarters to be located on North Street, the theater company bought the England Building on the 100 block, a structure that has seen more than a few reincarnations since its construction in 1884.

Barrington Stage's move was a wise one on several fronts: aside from providing the company with a new, centrally located 28,000-square-foot space for costuming, planning, rehearsing as well as administration and office space for its expanded summer staff, it solidifies the theater troupe as a permanent presence in the city. The building itself now hums with the vibrancy of a successful enterprise, and this has spilled over to its environs as its staff and visitors patronize nearby eateries and other businesses. "A neighbor from across the street told us, 'There's so much excitement coming out of your building. So many young people!'" Ms. Boyd said.

With the addition of the Wolfson Center, Barrington Stage has now expanded its Pittsfield footprint three times since arriving in the city. "If we can renovate old buildings in Pittsfield, it's good for us and it's good for the city," said Ms. Boyd. "We are just so happy to be here, all under one roof. This is where creativity happens."

According to Ms. Glodt, the Barrington Stage is always thinking about what it can do for Pittsfield, because everyone benefits. Thanks to the organization's new downtown digs, this symbiosis is about to enter a new and even more productive phase. It's a move that deserves a standing ovation.


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