David Adkins’ Story of Stockbridge

David Adkins in Thoreau at BTG, 2015. Photo by Michael J Riha.

David Adkins in Thoreau at BTG, 2015. Photo by Michael J Riha.

My Story

How did I find Stockbridge?

Maybe it was just good luck. Or was it chance? Or was I just ready?  I tell my students, luck will be of no use to you if you’re not ready when your chance comes. So work hard, do everything you can to be ready for luck, and if you get the chance—­ready or not—say YES!

It was about 1983, I guess. I had been at Dartmouth College for two years and really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I liked reading. I liked the outdoors. And I liked acting: I certainly wasn’t going to be an actor, though.

On a break, back home in Baltimore I visited my high school theatre director and on one of the coffee tables in the teachers’ lounge was an application for the Berkshire Theatre Festival. On a whim, I filled out the application and sent it in. Weeks later, after I had all but forgotten about applying, I got a call for an interview, and in June I found myself driving from Maryland to Massachusetts. I arrived at the Lavan Center on route seven and entered a world I’d never seen before: professional theater.

I was suddenly thrust into all aspects of theater—particularly the technical side—with hours spent in the scene shop, the costume shop, working concessions at the main stage, giving tours to patrons, and parking cars. We had acting classes in the morning and that was a whole other world I’d never experienced. I met teachers who approached the work in ways that were wondrous to me—with such commitment and passion and years of dedication to the work.  I saw that acting took work and potentially years of training—not just training for acting, but training for the voice and body. And it was that summer that I began to understand from the professionals surrounding me in all departments what it meant to have a single-minded determination. To have a singular focus that requires an intense examination of life, and the discipline it takes to explore, sculpt, fail, and then get back up and refine a performance.

It was that first BTF summer in Stockbridge where I began to learn that a life in the arts isn’t just something a person does or just a way of life. It is in fact a way of viewing the world: a way of viewing one’s place in the world and realizing I have a responsibility to that world as an artist.

That same summer, there was a hilarious production of Beyond Therapy (1985) on the Main Stage. It featured the great actors: David Schramm (Wings, and frequent BTG alum), Julie Hagerty (Airplane), David Rasche (Sledge Hammer!), and the wonderful Peggy Cosgrove. The cast had been invited to an apprentice showcase and afterward David Schramm asked if I had ever thought of going to a training school for acting. He told me he had gone to Juilliard. I said, “Juilliard? You mean the music school?”

Cast of Beyond Therapy at BTF, 1985. Photo from BTF Archive.

Cast of Beyond Therapy at BTG, 1985. Photo from BTF Archive.

And as luck would have it I secured a last-minute audition at Juilliard, because as chance would have it, the incoming Juilliard acting class had lost an actor. On a Wednesday I got a telephone call from Juilliard on the hall payphone in the Lavan dorms offering me an audition for that Friday!

Well I had one monologue which I’d been working on that summer. But I needed another. I went to my acting teacher, the great James Luce, and he said, “You need Shakespeare.” I said, “I don’t have a Shakespeare monologue.” He said, “do you know any lines from Shakespeare?” I answered, “to be or not to be…” He replied, “no that won’t work. Anything else?”  I said, “oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt.” I’m sure he winced, but that’s what we went with.

That Friday, two days later, I stood in front of the head of the Juilliard Drama School and the third year acting teacher and did my monologues. I didn’t know that both of them were famous: The late Michael Langham—who would later hire me for a job on Broadway—and Michael Kahn who is the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington D.C.—he’s never hired me, ahem!

I finished my monologues and Mr. Langham wrote something on a piece of paper, handed it to Mr. Kahn, and walked out. That didn’t seem like a good sign. Michael Kahn then wrote on the piece of paper and said, “take this to the office.” Another bad sign. I went down to the office and handed it to an administrator. She looked at the paper and then said, “Welcome to Juilliard. Do you have a place to live?” I said “No.” She told me to try the YMCA because they might still have rooms. They didn’t.

I walked down to the corner of 65th St. and Broadway and called my mother from a telephone booth. I told her, “I’ve gotten into Julliard.” “The music school?” she said. I replied, “I’m going to be an actor.”

I went back to Stockbridge and several weeks later my first summer at the Berkshire Theatre Festival had come to an end and I was on my way to New York City to be an actor at the Juilliard School. The Artistic Director, Josie Abady, had been keeping track of me and introduced me to the late Don Roe who worked in the BTF offices. Don said he would put me up in his apartment in NY for as many weeks as I needed until I found a place to live.

I would graduate from Juilliard four years later and go on to have many great experiences—and many heartbreaking ones as well—in my life as an actor. I would make my professional debut on the Fitzpatrick Main Stage under the direction of the late Artistic Director Richard Dunlap. I would travel the country performing in many of its great cities. I would work on and off Broadway, do some television, and hammer out a life in what some of us call “Show.” I would meet and work with a number of famous actors (and I would work a number of times with my now beloved David Schramm). The best part has been working, and learning from my fellow actors and writers and designers and technicians. I would return many summers to Stockbridge.

Oh, Stockbridge. The stories you can tell.

Today

David Adkins HeadshotIn addition to his work on stage, Mr. Adkins is the Director of the Acting Intern Program at Berkshire Theatre and helps to shape the next generation of theatre artists.

Plan Your Visit

Read our suggestions on where to dine, and where to hang your hat.

Get Started
Did You Know?
Just like NPR, Berkshire Theatre Group depends on the generous giving of its members!
Join Today!
We believe the performing arts can transform a community.
Learn More
Of the 16,000 Berkshire County school children, we serve 13,000 through our BTG PLAYS! Year-Round Educational Programs.
Learn More
Theatre is the place where we go to understand what lies in the human heart.
About Us
BTG's buildings, on two campuses in Stockbridge and Pittsfield, are historic treasures.
Theatre Info
Berkshire Theatre Group believes that the creative arts encourage freedom of speech and debate.
Get Involved
"Out of need will come the way. Once the pandemic ebbs, whenever that is, there will be an incredible need to gather again." - Artistic Director, Kate Maguire
Join Today!
The theatre has existed from the time of the Greeks. We will go on.
Learn More
Join Our Mailing List

Receive the latest BTG News, Updates, Special Offers, and more right to your inbox.

Subscribe

News & Articles

From the Archive: Eva LeGallienne

By: Katie Birenboim (She/Her/Hers)   Devoted fans of BTG may gasp to discover that until doing a first round of research in the amazing BTG archives, I had never heard … Read On

Today, all of us at BTG remember and honor all of the fallen soldiers who are no longer with us, and wish everyone a meaningful Memorial Day.
“The very real relationship between Leo and his grandmother is obvious, the dialogue is believable, and the performances are top-notch.” - Paula Kaplan-Reiss, Berkshire on Stage

Grab your tickets to 4000 Miles today at berkshiretheatre.org and witness a tale of unexpected roommates embarking on a month-long emotional rollercoaster as they navigate love, loss and grief.

(Photo by David Dashiell)
Take another sneak peek at Pink Floyd's The Wall, running from May 31-June 1 at the Colonial, as our Ensemble rehearses "Another Brick in the Wall!"

Grab your tickets at berkshiretheatre.org today.
By popular demand, we will be adding one additional performance date, Sunday, June 2 at 2pm, to our run of 4000 Miles, running now through June 2 at the Unicorn!

Don't delay! Get your tickets today at berkshiretheatre.org.
“A delightful launch to the 2024 season.” - Marc Savitt, BroadwayWorld

“4,000 Miles is a terrific start to the summer season in the Berkshires packed with laughs, tears and familial acceptance headed by a Broadway star.” - Patrick White, Nippertown

4000 Miles has officially kicked off our 2024 summer season, and critics are raving, so grab your tickets today at berkshiretheatre.org to see it at The Unicorn Theatre, now through June 1 only!

(Photo by Caelan Carlough)
The annual David Grover Scholarship Concert is heading back to Balderdash Cellars in Richmond, MA! A tribute to David Grover's memory and a commitment to continue his dedication to the arts and education, proceeds will directly benefit BTG PLAYS! year-round education programs and summer camps. ✨

To purchase tickets, visit berkshiretheatre.org.
Take a peek behind the wall at a vocal rehearsal of Pink Floyd's the Wall, coming to the Colonial May 31 and June 1, with Mike Wartella (@mikewartella), Lillian Colvin @_lilliancolvin_ ) and Susan Davis!

Grab your tickets today at berkshiretheatre.org to witness a theatrical concert experience of the most intriguing and imaginative album in rock history. 🎵
On May 26 at the Colonial, celebrate the legacy of Henry Mancini with Jukebox Saturday Night! Audiences will be treated to Mancini's iconic tunes from timeless TV and film classics like Peter Gunn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Pink Panther. 

Don't delay! Grab your tickets at berkshiretheatre.org today. 🎵🎶
Take a behind the scenes look at the early vision of 4000 Miles' scenic design with scenic designer, Jason Simms, before performances begin Thursday, May 16 at the Unicorn!

To purchase tickets, visit berkshiretheatre.org.
Don’t miss the unique opportunity to witness the homecoming of Berkshires native Diana Quetti and experience the magic she creates on the Colonial stage this Friday, May 10! 

Having been a part of BTG’s community productions since 2006, Diana has honed her skills to become an accomplished actor, singer and songwriter, and she can't wait to share her talents with the Berkshire County community!

To purchase tickets, visit berkshiretheatre.org.
JUST ANNOUNCED! Teaming up with the esteemed Jewish Plays Project (JPP) and plays2gather (p2g), BTG presents an immersive three-day Festival of New Jewish Plays, celebrating the depth and diversity of Jewish theatre from near and far, August 15-17!

Visit berkshiretheatregroup.org/passes to view the full schedule of events and purchase single event tickets or 3-day passes.
Taylor Swift fans of all ages are welcome to BTG's Tay Tay Dance Party, May 24 at the Colonial! Featuring a dazzling display of synchronized lasers and lights fit for Taylor Swift herself, DJ Swiftie is set to bring 2+ hours of Taylor's greatest hits. ✨

Get your tickets today at berkshiretheatre.org and prepare to be bejeweled and enchanted!
BTG is thrilled to announce that Pizza Trails will have a food truck at starting at 5pm at NECCA's Circus Springboard next Friday! Starting at 5pm, visit the Pizza Trails food truck outside the Colonial to enjoy 100% authentic wood fired pizza, salads and sandwich specials. 🍕
BTG is delighted to have Maria Tucci play Vera in our production of 4000 Miles at the Unicorn from May 16-June 1!

Tony Award-nominated for Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for her performance in the 1967 Broadway revival of "The Rose Tattoo," Maria has performed in numerous shows on Broadway, Off-Broadway, on television and in film over the span of her 61-year career, and is now set to bring her talent to the Unicorn stage!

Get your tickets today at berkshiretheatre.org to experience the captivating journey of two outsiders navigating life’s uncertainties and forging an unlikely bond that transcends generations.
Spring is finally in the air, and already we are less than a month away from the start of BTG's 2024 summer season. There are many upcoming shows to look forward to this year, and we hope to see you at the theatre soon! ✨

Plan your summer today by getting your tickets at berkshiretheatre.org!
Coming soon, BTG is teaming up with the Jewish Plays Project @jewishplays (JPP), the premiere development theater for new Jewish plays, and plays2gather (p2g) to bring the Festival of New Jewish Plays, an immersive three-day extravaganza celebrating the next generation of Jewish theater from near and far.

Stay tuned for more information on our stellar line-up of enlightening staged readings, interactive presentations of new work, brand new short plays, and artist talks that offer a captivating glimpse into the heart of today's Jewish storytelling.
Follow Us