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

Just announced! Max Creek will be live at The Colonial Theatre Friday, April 7 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $29 in advance and $39 day of! Visit our website to purchase!
.
link in bio!
Georgia Douglas Johnson was a well-known figure in the National Black Theatre movement in the early twentieth century, assembling and inspiring the intellectuals and artists who generated the next group of Black Theatre and rising education. Johnson wrote about 28 plays that were published under the pen name John Temple due to the fact that most of her writings were denied publication because of gender and race. By the end of her time, Johnson had written 200 poems, 28 plays and 31 short stories. She published her last poetry book, entitled Share My World, in 1962.
Are you and the kids feeling the February blues? Get out of the house and join us for “Magic Tree House: The Knight At Dawn” February 18th at 2pm! Author Mary Pope Osborne will be signing books from 1pm to 1:45pm in The Colonial Theatre lobby prior to the performance. Books will be available for purchase provided by The Bookloft in Great Barrington! Tickets on sale now!
There are still a few days to grab your tickets for “Draw The Line: A Tribute To Aerosmith!”
.
link in bio!
It’s almost time to jam! Join us TONIGHT at 7:30 for “Rev Tor’s 11th Annual Dead of Winter Jam!” There is still time to purchase your ticket! 
.
link in bio!
Berkshire Theatre Group celebrates Black History Month! For the rest of the month we will be highlighting Black Voices in Theatre through the years!
We sat down and had a fun chat with Rev Tor himself! Learn some fun facts about Tor and his band before catching the show this Friday!
.
Tickets through the link in our bio!
You won’t want to miss “Hyprov” on March 25! From the brilliant minds of Improv and Comedy Legend Colin Mochrie and Master Hypnotist Asad Mecci comes a brand new, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, side-splitting show! Twenty random volunteers from the audience will be put under hypnosis, their inhibitions evaporated and their minds no longer their own. The contestants will be methodically and hysterically whittled down until the five best are left on stage when one of the world’s leading improvisers enters! Colin Mochrie will take the stage to improvise with the top five while they are still under hypnosis, which will turn the show into an improv extravaganza!
.
link in bio!
Join us March 24 for “Song and Dance.” Highlighting Berkshire women in the Arts, this show features performances by Gina Coleman, Olga Dunn Dance Co., Wanda Houston, Mary Ann Palermo and The All-Star Women’s Band, along with more of our extraordinary region’s unsung female heroes in the art, business, social and medical communities. Join us for an evening of celebrating women of the Berkshires!
Proceeds will be donated in part to several local non-profit organizations, including The Elizabeth Freeman Center that helps women and children in need.
Katie Birenboim is back on the blog this week highlighting some more of the rich history found in BTG's archives! A recent trip uncovered this essay from long-time president of the board and fixture of the Berkshires, Jane Fitzpatrick, outlining the formative years of what we now call the Playhouse on our Stockbridge campus! Read more from both Katie and Jane through the link in our bio!
Want to change things up this year for St. Patrick’s Day? Join us March 17 at 7:30 for The Young Dubliners! This American rock band have been recording albums and touring since 1993. Their style of music has come to be called Celtic Rock for the fusion of Irish traditional music with modern rock ‘n’ roll!
We are so honored to have been a part of such amazing theatre over the past year! Congratulations Kimille and DeAnna!
Buckle up and hold on tight as Berkshire Theatre Group presents The 2023 Berkshire Mountain Guitar Summit on Saturday, March 11! Enjoy workshops, demos and a luthier’s expo in The Colonial Theatre Lobby followed by a concert on the Colonial stage hosted by BTG’s very own Rev Tor and featuring performances by a handful of the region’s most beloved guitar heroes.
This year’s line-up includes: Fuzz of Deep Banana Blackout, Rob Sanzone of The Picky Bastards, Garrett Lechowski of Harvest, and RustSeth Fleischmann of Misty Blues! More announced soon so stay tuned!
.
link in bio!
Join us Friday, March 3rd for “Ivy League Stand Up!” Known for their elite brand of clever comedy, the members of The Ivy League of Comedy can be seen on late-night TV, Comedy Central and now on stage at the Colonial. This hilarious comedy show features original, well-written comedy that doesn’t resort to playing on stereotypes or picking on the audience. This is stand-up comedy’s funniest and brightest!
Today we remember a magnificent man. His words were extremely important then and they are still extremely important now.
"Photograph 51" is an intriguing portrait of British scientist Rosalind Franklin and her often overlooked role in the discovery of DNA’s double helix structure. A balance of the historical, romantic and scientific, it is a touching play about ambition, isolation and the race for greatness. The show first opened in the West End in 2015 and starred Nicole Kidman as Rosalind Franklin. We are excited to bring this show to The Berkshires June 15th-July 1st. Tickets on sale now via the link in our bio!
February 25th we’ve got “Tapestry, The Carole King Songbook Featuring Suzanne O. Davis.” In addition to featuring all the music from Tapestry, the show will also feature many songs that Carole King and her husband, Gerry Goffin, wrote in the 1960s as one of the most successful songwriting teams in pop music history. The more than 400 songs were recorded by over 1,000 artists, including The Drifters, The Beatles, Herman’s Hermits, Donnie Osmond, Aretha Franklin, The Shirelles, Bobby Vee and many more.

link in bio!
Are you looking for something fun to do with the whole family but don’t want to brave the cold days of winter? Join us February 18th for “Magic Tree House: The Knight At Dawn.” Based off of Mary Pope Osborne’s Award Winning book series, this show is wonderful for all ages! Mary Pope Osborne will be signing books from 1pm to 1:45pm in The Colonial Theatre lobby prior to the performance. Books will be available for purchase provided by The Bookloft in Great Barrington!

link in bio!
Mark your calendars for February 10th! We’ve got Draw The Line: A Tribute To Aerosmith! Combining the same blues-based, hard rock sounds of Aerosmith, Draw The Line performs  classic hits like “Walk this Way,” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “Dream On” and many others with stunning accuracy. Tickets on sale now via the link in our bio!
Join us February 3rd at 7:30pm for Rev Tor’s 11th Annual Dead of Winter Jam. Interweaving the classic songs and jams of The Grateful Dead, Dead Man’s Waltz is an all-star collective from the Northeast festival scene. Dead Man’s Waltz features top-notch musicianship and offers a refreshing twist to the music of The Grateful Dead. While staying true to the spirit of the music, the band members put their own dynamic spin on a vast catalog of beloved songs that are now part of the new American songbook. This show will feature some of your local favorites like Mark Mercier (Max Creek), Jen Durkin (Deep Banana Blackout), Mark Paradis (The Marks Brothers/Lobsters From Mars), Mike “Woody” Wood (Rebel Alliance) and Them Bastards (Chris Merenda & Dave Brown). 
Tickets on sale now via the link in our bio!
Follow Us