Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 20, 2017

WAM & The Last Wife

Bernstein Theatre, Lenox
through November 5, 2017
by Shera Cohen

The most important work of WAM is not the arts, or theatre in particular, but charity and goodwill. Since 2010, WAM Theatre (Where Arts & Activism Meet) has donated more than $32,500 to 12 nonprofit organizations that benefit women and girls, and provided paid work to more than 200 theatre artists.

Photo by Kristen van Ginhoven
WAM was founded in 2010, and “The Last Wife” marks the  end of its eighth season. In total, WAM has presented one Main Stage play each fall. Also filling out WAM’s calendar is its reading series which presents works in progress by local artists. A younger troupe, The Girls Ensemble, has performed original works in 2016 and 2017. WAM  also collaborates on community events, such as the Facing Our Truth project in 2016 and our Sister March event in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington this past January.

I had the opportunity to see a preview of “The Last Wife” by Kate Hennig. The wife, in this instance, is Katherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII, who not only saved her head but also outlived her husband.

Enticing me to attend this play was the collaboration of WAM with Shakespeare & Company. The latter contributed three of its finest actors in lead roles; Nehassaiu deGannes (Kate), a spunky, articulate new-comer in the Berkshires who shined this summer in “Intimate Apparel;” John Hadden (Henry), a regular at Shakespeare & Co. whose attention to drama is especially unique; and David Joseph (Thom), a suave young man, who seems to have grown up before my eyes, with a cunning grin.

WAM has some challenges, as do other stages in the Berkshires. The most significant hurdle is timing. Since it’s no longer summer, attending performances at Shakespeare & Company, Berkshire Theatre Group, and Barrington Stage in the fall months is not an immediate thought when seeking theatre. Many venues are trying to stretch their calendars. I honestly don’t know if it works – only the box office staff know for sure -- but I have to say that I attended three of this year’s best productions this month – yes, in October.