Joan Littlewood

The Royal Shakespeare Company presented a musical, Miss Littlewood, about the director Joan Littlewood, at the Swan Theatre in the summer of 2018. This inspired our son , Paul, when he visited  on Thanksgiving,  to interview Bob about the time we spent with her in London and when she visited us in Vermont.  Bob had not only spent time with her when we were in London where he was researching British theatre for his doctoral dissertation, but he had  gone back when she was working on The Projector, supposedly an eighteenth century play that mirrored a contemporary building disaster that had happened in the East End of London. Bob also talked about introducing Joan to Tina Packer, whose work at Shakespeare & Co., was influenced by Joan’s, when Joan visited us in Vermont.

Click below to listen to the interview.

Bob Talking About Joan Littlewood

Then watch the trailer for Miss Littlewood

Joan Liittlewood and Bob 1968 


Tina Packer and Joan 








Fresh Takes 2016

        Molly Clancy
                              Molly Clancy

Bob and I always  look forward to each play reading at Fresh Takes, a program of WAM Theatre. The third in the series, The Oregon Trail is on Sunday, June 19 at three p.m

We talked with Molly Clancy, who is the curator of the series, to discuss this year’s readings and  WAM’s other theatre  activities. WAM is committed to supporting women both through the plays they select and the organizations to which they donate a portion of their profits.  Often the plays deal with the history of women with whom audiences may not be familiar. Like many theatrical organizations, WAM also has an educational program which Molly talks about as well.

Interview with Molly Clancy

WAM has an office in Lenox, Massachusetts, but it utilizes other spaces for its productions. The readings take place at Number 6 Depot  in West Stockbridge.

       Number Six Depot

Number Six Depot

               The Last Wife Reading
           The Gallery
                  The Gallery




WAM Theatre website

Interview with Julianne Boyd 2015

Julianne Boyd
Julianne Boyd

Barrington Stage celebrated its tenth year in Pittsfield this summer. The company was co-founded in 1995 by Artistic Director Julianne Boyd as a not-for-profit professional theatre with a three-fold mission: presenting high-quality productions, developing new musicals and plays and finding ways to bring new audiences, particularly young people, into theatre. After another successful season at the company’s two theatres, Julianne Boyd talked  with us about the past  season, plans for next year,  and their educational programs for young people. She also talked about their final production of the season, Veils  which runs through October 18.

Season passes for 2016 are already on sale and they are a great way to see theatre at a reasonable price.

Interview with Julianne Boyd  Part 1

Interview with Julianne Boyd Part 2

Interview with Julianne Boyd Part 3

Interview with Julianne Boyd Part 4“>

Donnetta Lavinia Grays and Hend Ayoub in Veils
Donnetta Lavinia Grays
and Hend Ayoub in Veils
Donnetta Lavinia Grays and Hend Ayoub in Veils

Fresh Takes

Molly Clancy

Play readings have a magic of their own. The audience is on the first step of a process leading to productions. Not all plays go from the readings to the stage, but this is where they start. Each year WAM Theatre offers a series of play readings in a coffee house in West Stockbridge, MA. The plays are always intriguing and it is amazing the worlds that actors can create with their scripts in hand after about six hours of rehearsal. We interviewed Molly Clancy who coordinated the reading series this year. She also directed Water by the Spoonful, one of our favorites..

WAM  does one full production each year. This year the play is Holy Laughter  which will be performing at the St. German Theatre in Pittsfield from October 29 to November 22. Our interview with the playwright and the director will be on WBTN on November 2.

Interview with Molly Clancy Part 1  

Interview with Molly Clancy Part 2

The Effect
The Effect
Water by the Spoonful
Water by the Spoonful“>

The Club

073115_TheClub2The Club by Eve Merriam will have a limited run at The Garage from July 31 to August 9. The Garage is part of the Berkshire Theatre Group and is next to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.The play is a musical written my Merriam in 1976. It opened at the Circle in the Square and was directed by Tommy Tune. It is set in an Edwardian men’s club early in the 20th century. Here men can be men and talk and sing about women. Merriam collected original songs of the period from the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts. The attitudes of men at the time towards women come through clearly in the sexist jokes and songs. The twist is that the men are played by women.  In 1977 The Club won an Obie for all its cast in The Distinguished Production category.

Merriam is best known as a writer of poetry, fiction and biography for children. However, she wrote eight plays and eight novels for adults. Her Inner City Mother Goose is poetry for adults.

Bob and I had the privilege of interviewing Annette Miller who acts and sings in it and Rocco Sisto who co-directed the play with is wife Barbara Allen.

Annette Miller
Annette Miller

Interview with Annette Miller


Interview with Rocco Sisto

Rocco Sisto
Rocco Sisto

Challenges for Women in Theatre

A few weeks ago Dina Janis posted this article on her Facebook page.

After I read it, I thought of many of the challenges women face in theatre in addition to the challenges everyone in theatre faces. I thought we should have a program about it so Bob and I asked three women whose work we admired and whom we knew would speak honestly about the issues. Dina Janis, Artistic Director of The Dorset Theatre Festival and a member of the Bennington College Drama Faculty, Elizabeth Apenlieder, actress, Artistic Associate and Director of Communications at Shakespeare and Company and Janis Young, actress and member of the Bennington College Drama Faculty.

Their views on the topic are below. There was also a great deal of discussion during the sponsorship breaks and after the program was over, particularly when Bob got to ask his question about whether women received equal pay to men in theatre, which I am sorry we could not record.

Julianne Boyd

Julianne Boyd founded the Barrington Stage Company in 1995 in Sheffield Massachusetts. Bob and I saw our first production there in 1999 when we went to see Mack and Mabel. We have been going ever since. When the company moved to Pittsfield in 2006,we were delighted. Before they had their current second stage on Linden Street, we enjoyed Funked Up Fairy Tales in the basement of the Berkshire Athenaeum, seeing it a second time when we took our granddaughters to see it. Although we have always enjoyed their productions, 2014 was an outstanding year even by their high standards. We had the pleasure of interviewing Julianne Boyd towards the end of that season as she was directing Enemy of the People.

Julianne Boyd

Barrington Stage Company

Introduction to Women in Theatre

One of our first programs was about women in theatre and the contributions women have made in creating companies,  in producing, directing, in writing plays and in acting. They have been instrumental in sustaining and enriching theatre. We have had the pleasure of interviewing some of the Berkshire area’s dynamic women who have given so much to our region. However, this first program is a general introduction to the topic.

Our programs will be supplemented by interviews from a series which I will be posting along with our interviews. Sponsored by the League of Professional Theatre  Women, it is a valuable series. Linda Winer is an excellent interviewer. Interestingly, one of the producers of the series is Betty Corwin whom I knew when her children went to the Westport Cooperative Nursery School of which I was the founding director. Betty filmed many production for the theatre archive. In 2006 she won the Luiclle Lortell Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence.

I  include the interview with Tina Howe because we mention her on our program and because we have enjoyed productions of her plays. Liz Swados was a student of Bob’s at Bennington College.  She was in Happiness Ahead  which was inspired by Joan Littlewood’s Oh What A Lovely War.  Joan had told Bob when he said he wanted to do a production of her play that he should find a time in American history that was as significant to us as the First World War was to the British.

Tina Howe

Liz Swados

Click on the url for our broadcast

Patti LuPone


Bob and I saw  Patti LuPone at SUNY Albany  when the Acting Company was touring and later summers in Saratoga.   We were very impressed with the then unknown actors and particularly  with Patti LuPone. The first show we saw her in was The Hostage where she played the tuba.  One season they did The Cradle will Rock with her in it and it was a thrilling experience. Therefore reading her autobiography was particularly intriguing.  I have included an interview she did five months ago as well.  The theme of women in theatre is worth revisiting.

Patti LuPone: A Memoir  with Digby Diehl

Published in 2010, this is Patti’s story of her life until then. It is very honest and direct and one believes that one is hearing her voice. At first, it seems like everything was painful for her. When she is having a good time, she says that, of course, something terrible is going to happen and it does. I kept thinking that she spent her life being miserable. She had a lot of difficulty with Juilliard, particularly John Houseman who didn’t like her and who was very insulting to her continuously. She did enjoy the Acting Company and being in Saratoga. She also had a good romantic relationship with Kevin Kline for a good number of years. However, she had problems galore with Evita, in terms of singing and it seems that she was always storming out of situations or leaving or threatening to leave.  There seemed justification for her reputation of being difficult. She is clear about whom she likes and whom she doesn’t. That is putting it far mildly than she does.

In the middle of the book, however, everything changes. First, she meets her husband whom she adores and who seems like a steadying influence on her. Even though Le Miz had its problems, she enjoyed the work. Then there is the Sunset Boulevard fiasco. Andrew Lloyd Webber is so obnoxious that you are all on Patty’s side.  She was always getting bad reviews from the New York Times despite her success with audiences. One feels for her and understands why she wrecks her dressing room. Then she has really wonderful professional experiences. She loved doing Sweeney Todd. Working with Arthur Laurents in Gypsy was great and she even gets a good review from the New York Times. This time it is from Ben Brantley and not Frank Rich. She loved working with Mandy Patinkin and really enjoyed North as a director. Being a mother and a wife certainly mellow her a great deal in the course of the book. One ends up appreciating her.

Life in the theatre is hard. She also did a television program with a costar who hated her and whom she hated. She played Lady Bird Johnson with Randy Quaid. So, her experience has been varied. She was even in a Steven Spielberg movie. She really likes Sondheim and was happy doing his shows. Glenn Close comes across as really insensitive even though Patti never meets her. It becomes clear that acting is hard work, but that when it works, there is a sense of companionship and trust that is unique and quite special. Bob was surprised at my initial negativity about the book because he liked it and by the time I finished it I did too and had a lot of admiration for Patti, not only for her talent which was evident when we first saw her with the Acting Company in Saratoga, but in her work since then, but also for her spirit and her honesty.

Patti LuPone