Berkshire Playwrights Lab announces that award-winning contemporary playwrights Joan Ackermann, Eric Bogosian, Larry Gelbart, and David Mamet will write original short plays to be read by celebrated actors Karen Allen, Elizabeth Franz, Dan Lauria, Wendie Malick, Peter Riegert, Jay Thomas, and others at the organization’s Gala Season Opening on Friday, May 29, 2009, 8pm at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center (14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, Mass.).
Proceeds from the Gala Season Opening will benefit the Berkshire Playwrights Lab Free Staged Reading Series, which will take place on Wednesdays at 8pm on June 10, July 1, July 15, July 29, August 12, August 26, and September 16 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. Specific play titles and casts TBA.
Founded in 2006 by theater professionals Joe Cacaci, Bob Jaffe, Jim Frangione, and Matthew Penn, Berkshire Playwrights Lab is dedicated to encouraging, developing, and presenting new plays. Through readings, workshops, and fully-staged productions, the Lab provides emerging and established writers with a professional and creative environment, while offering audiences the unique and provocative opportunity to share in the dramatic evolution of premiere works. For more information about this new organization, see www.berkshireplaywrightslab.org.
The Gala Season Opening will feature original material written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet (Glengary Glen Ross) and Pulitzer Prize finalist Eric Bogosian (Talk Radio). Larry Gelbart is best known for writing the musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the television series, M*A*S*H, and for co-writing the Oscar-nominated screenplay, Tootsie. Playwright Joan Ackermann is the co-founder and artistic director of Mixed Company, a twenty-five-year-old theater in Great Barrington, Mass., and she was a long-time writer and producer for the television series, Arli$$.
The evening’s actors are equally accomplished as the playwrights. Karen Allen is best known for starring in the films, Raiders of the Lost Ark and National Lampoon’s Animal House. Elizabeth Franz won the Tony Award and was nominated for an Emmy for her performance as Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman. Dan Lauria played Jack Arnold (the dad) on the television series, The Wonder Years. Wendie Malick was twice nominated for an Emmy and once for a Golden Globe for playing Nina Van Horn on the sitcom, Just Shoot Me!. Peter Riegert starred in the films, Local Hero and Traffic, and in many David Mamet plays on Broadway. Jay Thomas is a two-time Emmy winner for playing Jerry Gold on television series, Murphy Brown.