Performances 2013


Made in the Berkshires presents: Exquisite Dilemmas: Women and Choices ~ March 2, 2013

Saturday, March 2, 2013
Made in the Berkshires presents:
Exquisite Dilemmas: Women and Choices
Hosted by Hilary Somers Deely and Barbara Sims, featuring Sally-Jane Heit, Susan Merrill, and Joy Spivak
Unicorn Theater, Stockbridge, 7:30 p.m.
$20 admission to benefit the 2013 Made in the Berkshires Festival
For tickets, contact the Colonial Theatre box office at (413) 997-4444

Choice: n. the act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities. adj. of very good quality

Join us as we eavesdrop on women who are exploring the exquisite dilemma of choosing how to live their lives. You’ll go from glee to sorrow and back again with Before I Forget, a delicious look at one woman’s life, loves, and losses, written and performed by Sally-Jane Heit with music by Uel Wade. We’ll reprise the 2012 Made in the Berkshires audience favorite The Rabbi Auditions, by Joy Spivak, in which the temple’s three-person search committee kvells, kvetches, and finally chooses a new rabbi. And we’ll round out the evening with humor, insight and personal recollections from Susan Merrill, the Berkshires’ favorite storyteller.

Sally-Jane Heit grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and trained at the High School of Performing Arts, Hunter College, and Yale Drama School. After raising three daughters in Washington, DC, she moved to New York and was cast in Michael Bennett’s Broadway musical Ballroom. Her impressive list of professional credits includes theater, television, and film. It was an inspired encounter with Lily Tomlin that ignited the passion that has evolved into her latest production, Before I Forget . . . A Musical


Stockbridge painter and writer Susan Merrill has exhibited her paintings in numerous local venues, including, for the past five years, an annual solo show of farm animal paintings at Hancock Shaker Village.  She began writing when Lyn Austin, the head of the Music Theater Group,  asked her to write something for her annual Berkshire Writers evening. As no one could ever say no to Lyn Austin, that’s when it all started. For many years Susan read stories at the Williamsville Inn, at the request of innkeeper Gail Ryan, as part of her Stories for a Winter Evening series. The stories eventually turned themselves into two novels. Warm Morning, published in 2010, is about growing up in a magic house on a farm in rural Maryland, where Susan spent  her childhood winters. The other novel, Cool Evening, not yet published, is about another house, this one in the Berkshires, and it is from this book that Susan will read tonight.


Prior to playwriting, Joy Spivak made records and performed in Las Vegas, writing her own shows and comedy. She later changed careers, becoming the second female police officer in New Jersey. She and her husband, Jerry, reside in Naples, FL, and West Stockbridge, MA.



Made in the Berkshires is a locally grown festival of new works including theatre, film, dance, poetry, music, short stories, performance, and visual art, under the aegis of the Berkshire Theatre Group.

Hilary Somers Deely is co-curator of Made in the Berkshires. An actress, director, and producer, Hilary has headed three academic theater programs in independent schools and is an emeritus member of the Berkshire Theatre Festival board and a member of the advisory board for the Berkshire Fringe. Most recently, she joined the Fringe in its artists’ residency at Mass MOCA in a world premiere production of The Waypoint. She has voiced three roles in Gregory Whitehead’s BBC 4 radio plays; stage managed and acted in several productions at Joan Ackerman’s Mixed Company; coproduced the third year of Ten Minutes in the Berkshires; directed an Equity touring Company of My Children, My Africa; and has appeared in staged productions at the Berkshire Theatre Festival and the Runway Theatre in Grapevine, TX.


Barbara Sims is co-curator of Made in the Berkshires and was a co-producer for the Free Concerts in Lilac Park series in 2010 and 2011. Her theater credits include A Streetcar Named Desire with Natasha Richardson and Noises Off with Patti LuPone on Broadway. Her Off-Broadway roles include the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane, with Alec Baldwin; Juno and the PaycockArms and the Man, directed by Roger Rees at Circle in the Square Theatre; The Hope Zone, with Olympia Dukakis; and Trip to Bountiful, with Ellen Burstyn. She has also performed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company, Stages Repertory Theatre, and the Houston Shakespeare Festival. Her film and TV credits include Law & Order: SVUGuiding Light; PBS’s End of the Line; and Cornflower Blue.


Alison Larkin LIVE! ~ March 9, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013
Alison Larkin LIVE!
Unicorn Theater, Stockbridge, 7:30 p.m.
Admission: $20 to benefit the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers
For tickets, contact the Colonial Theatre box office at (413) 997-4444

Internationally acclaimed comedienne Alison Larkin will perform a sneak preview of her new one-woman show, Alison Larkin LIVE! as a fund-raiser for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. Alison’s first solo show, from which sprang her autobiographical novel, The English American, played to high critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, with The (London) Times calling the show “Hugely entertaining—marvelously light footed”; NBC-TV hailing Alison as “a hysterically funny new bi-hemispheric comedienne”; and Vogue calling it “most powerful book of the season.”’ The English American tells the story of an adopted English woman who finds her birth parents in the United States. It is under development as a movie, with Alison cowriting the screenplay. In a unique blend of stand-up comedy and theater, Alison will entertain, chat about the real story behind her novel and take a comedic look at life as an English American.

As an actress, Alison Larkin has appeared on and off Broadway with the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. A headliner at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, she also spent three years under studio contract to star in her own sitcom with CBS and Jim Henson productions. She has narrated over thirty best-selling audio books since moving to Great Barrington, MA, in 2010, including The English American, for which she won the prestigious AudioFile Earphones Award.


IWOW-WOW (In Words out of Words in Women’s Own Words) ~ March 19, 2013

Tuesday, March 19
The Deb Koffman Gallery presents:
IWOW-WOW (In Words out of Words in Women’s Own Words)
An open mic event for storytellers, poets, musicians, and performers
Deb Koffman Gallery, 137 Front Street, Housatonic, 7–9 p.m.
Suggested donation: $1-$6 for performers and audience

Women writers, poets, storytellers, songwriters, and performers share their art with one another and a supportive audience. Men are also welcome to read/perform women’s writings. Each participant is allotted three minutes (600 or fewer words). Performers can sign up by emailing Deb Koffman at; audience reservations are suggested, as space is limited. Snacks to share are welcome.


Trust: A performance by JoAnne Spies ~ March 22, 2013

Friday, March 22
Trust: A performance by JoAnne Spies and friends
Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, 2:30 p.m.   Free with museum admission. See for admission fees.

JoAnne Spies with guitar. Photo by Julie McCarthy

Trust is a collaborative and interactive performance created by JoAnne Spies, with songs and poems on the theme of trust, in a guided tour of the Rockwell Museum.

JoAnne Spies is a singer-songwriter whose recent works include Karaoke Confession at the Norman Rockwell Museum and Survivor Tree, sung at Ground Zero with Jane Goodall officiating. Spies heads the Art Cart program at CATA, co-creating songs with elders and people with Alzheimer’s. Her CDs include 2×3, Me & Melville, and North Avenue Honey. JoAnne “puts the purr in performance art.”—CD Nelson


JoAnne’s special guests will include:

Pooja Ru PremaMari AndrejcoBarbara and Graham DeanJan HutchinsonRodney MashiaEric ReinhardtNatalie Shiras, Nathan Smith and Teresa Thomasand maybe some surprise guests as well!

Read more about JoAnne’s first performance of “Trust” on her blog.


The Trojan Women ~ March 22, 2013

Friday, March 22
The Trojan Women
Adapted and Directed by Leigh Strimbeck, with students from Russell Sage College
Studio Theater, Daniel Arts Center, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 7 p.m.

Performed by Russell Sage College students, produced by The Theatre Institute at Sage, this performance is a feminist retelling of Euripides’ great anti-war play.  The adaptation is set in the future in Troy, New York in the midst of an energy crisis, in a United States collapsed by 10 years of civil war.  The story takes place in a women’s refugee camp on the banks of the Hudson River.  This version dares to reinvent the response of the women to further enslavement.

Leigh Strimbeck 
 is an actor, director, writer and acting teacher. She holds a BFA in dance/drama from New York University and has been taught acting at the Actors and Directors Lab in New York City and the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE) in Bloomsburg, PA. There she acted in dozens of plays, served as ensemble director for three years, and traveled with BTE during a USIA tour of Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia. She is currently an assistant professor at Russell Sage College in Troy, NY. She is also the cofounder of WAM Theatre (Women’s Action Movement Theatre, with Kristen van Ginhoven, artistic director.



Wind and Rain: Poetry and Song ~ March 27, 2013

Wednesday, March 27
Wind and Rain: Poetry and Song
Rosemary Starace, JoAnne Spies, and the Elemental Orchestra
The Lichtenstein Center, 28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield, 7 p.m.
Suggested donation: $5

“Let me fly away with you, for my love is like the wind.” Enter an elemental landscape that celebrates love, wildness, and all that wind and rain conjure. Poet Rosemary Starace and singer-songwriter JoAnne Spies trade art forms and collaborate with each other and the elements in this interactive performance. Guitar, dulcimer, drums, melodicas, accordions, rattles, and chimes will accompany original and familiar pieces spoken, chanted, and sung.

JoAnne Spies with guitar. Photo by Julie McCarthy

JoAnne Spies’s recent works include Karaoke Confession at the Norman Rockwell Museum and Survivor Tree, sung at Ground Zero with Jane Goodall officiating. Spies heads the Art Cart program at CATA, cocreating songs with elders and people with Alzheimer’s. Her CDs include 2×3, Me & Melville, and North Avenue Honey. CD Nelson says, “She puts the purr in performance art.”

Rosemary Starace, photo by Kevin Hayes

Rosemary Starace, writer and visual artist, is author of the poetry collection Requitements and coeditor of Letters to the World, an international poetry anthology. “This is a poetry very much like the blues, full of lacrimae rerum. . . .Hearing it, I feel a weight lifting in my chest that I didn’t know was there.” —Dave Bonta, Via Negativa