Berkshire Playwrights Lab provides playwrights with the space to create. Through readings, workshops and fully-staged performances, BPL provides a structure for emerging and established playwrights in the Berkshires. Saint James Place is honored to provide the performance space for this weekend’s Berkshire Voices production: Jane Denitz Smith’s I Am, You Are, We Were.
Berkshire Voices is a program of BPL: a group of 10 – 12 talented local playwrights and theater artists meet every week at Saint James Place for 8 – 10 weeks in the Spring and Fall. These theatre playwrights, directors, producers and other professionals and enthusiasts gather in the East Room on Monday evenings from 6:30 – 9:00 pm and work together on short 10-minute plays or scenes from longer plays. They read the content cold so that the playwright can hear how his or her words sound – and then receive comments and reactions to help them move forward with their work.
In a recent conversation with Andy Reynolds, a playwright who has had two Berkshire Voices readings at Saint James Place – In Between Without You in 2017 and The Last Days of the Contract Player in 2019 – Reynolds said, “It is so helpful as a playwright who spends most of their time typing away alone in front of a computer screen to connect with other artists and get an early chance to hear what their written words sound when read aloud. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!”
At the end of each of these work sessions, 2 – 3 full-length plays are chosen to be read aloud for the public. Reynolds said, “This is crucial to the development of a play – to hear the entire piece from start to finish. It is also terrific to work with a director in shaping and refining the piece. When you add actors to the mix, it becomes very exciting. The final ingredient is a live audience, who get a chance to hear a work in development and voice their reactions to what they heard.”
This Sunday, January 26th at 7pm here at Saint James Place, Jane Denitz Smith’s play, directed by Joe Cacaci, I Am, You Are, We Were, will be read. This original work features two families – one Russian, one suburban Jewish – and how their equilibrium is tilted by Bolshevik fervor, loss and a garage bursting with a lifetime’s worth of possessions. Learn more about the play and Smith here.
Suggested $15+ donations accepted at door in support of BPL and local playwrights and actors.
Playwright Reynolds said, “I love the intimate feel of the Great Hall at Saint James Place – it’s ideal for Berkshire Voices readings. There’s nothing nicer than cozying up in a seat on a winter’s night and hearing a fantastic play read by talented people. The best part is not knowing what you’ll experience until it’s happening!