BTG Blog

The Buildings of Berkshire Theatre Group

Berkshire Theatre Group was formed in 2010 by the merger of The Colonial Theatre and Berkshire Theatre Festival. Each of Berkshire Theatre Group's celebrated four stages has a rich and unique history.

 The Colonial Theatre and The Garage

Colonial Stage

The Colonial Theatre interior, view from the stage.

Colonial Postcard

Berkshire Theatre Group's Pittsfield Campus is comprised of the historic Colonial Theatre and The Garage. The Colonial was built in 1903 and functioned as a theatre for decades until being turned into a movie theatre in 1937, though there were still occasional live performances.In 1951 it was announced that the theatre would be permanently closing. The Town Players of Pittsfield staged a final performance (Curse You, Jack Dalton) on the Colonial stage in December of 1952. Pictured to the right: Postcard of The Colonial Theatre c. 1914.

Colonial Exterior

The Colonial was bought by the Miller family, and turned into an art supply store, though the family took extreme care to preserve the features of the theatre. By 1997 the Friends of the Colonial Theatre had formed and were generating support and awareness with the hope of restoring The Colonial. The Colonial was designated a National Historic Treasure in 1998 and in 2001 the renovations began. In 2006 The Colonial reopened to the public. Pictured to the left: The Colonial Theatre after the renovation in 2006.

Originally, The Colonial Theatre would seat 1,200 patrons, and currently seats approximately 800. The Theatre was designed to maximize acoustics and ensure that every seat could clearly hear the actors on stage. One way this was achieved was by having no corners, only curved edges, and to this day the only corners in the theatre come from the addition of an elevator.

Garage

Today, the lobby of the theatre has moved into an adjoining building. Built in 1921 as the Berkshire Auto Company, the building was connected to The Colonial Theatre and serves as the lobby, administrative offices, backstage space in addition to housing The Garage (pictured to the right).The name is a tribute to the original building and hosts a variety of smaller, more intimate performances. The Garage offers a distinctive lounge atmosphere and is perfect for comedy and music.

Colonial Historic Lobby

Historic Lobby of The Colonial Theatre.

 

The Fitzpatrick Main Stage and The Unicorn Theatre

Watercolor of Stockbridge campus

Berkshire Theatre Festival Stockbridge Campus, painting by Leonard Wilson from the BTF archives.

The Stockbridge Casino was completed in 1888. By the 1920s it had fallen into disuse and was sold to Mabel Choate, who in turn sold it to the Three Arts Society. In order to preserve the casino, they found a new home for the structure at the foot of Yale Hill Road. The casino was carefully taken apart and pulled by horses to its new location.

Hallock

When they rebuilt the structure they overhauled the interior to create the Berkshire Playhouse. The new theatre seated 450, and dressing rooms were added for the actors. The Playhouse remained more or less as it was until the 1940s. Pictured to the right: Terry Hallock watercolor of the Fitzpatrick Main Stage, 1990.

During the initial 1920s rebuilding and renovation, the three arts society bought the Mellon Barn, which was used as the scene and prop shop. The pigsty (devoid of actual farm animals) was transformed into living quarters for the interns who came to work at the theatre. The barn (now known as the Unicorn Theatre) was also used as an informal stage and it functioned as a workshop space for new and experimental theatre. Pictured below: Rear view of the Unicorn Theatre, painting by unknown artist from the BTF archives.

Unicorn

The Main Stage was renovated again in the 1940s and the 1990s. Today, the Main Stage retains much of its original character with the iconic arches and cupola. The building's history and import to Stockbridge led to its addition to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. 

Beginnings of the Berkshire Theatre

Berkshire Playhouse c. 1930s

Berkshire Playhouse circa 1930s.

The Berkshire Playhouse Blossoms

As we head into the ninetieth year of production, it is important to remember the storied beginnings of Berkshire Theatre Festival.  Eva Le Gallienne was integral to the creation of BTF as a champion and pioneer of regional theatre. Her company, the Civic Repertory Theatre, "laid the groundwork for [the] Off-Broadway and the regional theatre movement," according to a December 1998 article from Playbill.

Eva Le Gallienne in The Cradle Song, 1928.Alexander Kirkland, part of the Civic Repertory Theatre, became the first artistic director of the Berkshire Playhouse and on June 4, 1928 the Playhouse opened its doors with Eva Le Gallienne in The Cradle Song (pictured to the left). Myriad productions followed, many including the brightest names of stage and screen, but the Fitzpatrick Main Stage began its days as The Stockbridge Casino, designed in 1887 by McKim, Mead, and White.

The Stockbridge Casino building was completed in 1888 and remained an important cultural center in Stockbridge until the 1920s. After the building began to fall into disrepair, Mabel Choate (daughter of Joseph Choate, one of the founders of the Stockbridge Casino Company) announced her plans to buy the Casino, dismantle it, and replace it with the Mission House, which she planned to transform into a museum.

Unwilling to let an historic building fall, Daniel Chester French, Austen Fox Riggs, and Walter L. Clark purchased the Casino building for one dollar and moved it to the foot of Yale Hill Road in 1927. The following year they formed The Three Arts Society, and Alexander Kirkland and F. Cowles Strickland became co-directors of the Berkshire Playhouse.

According to various newspaper accounts, the parking lot of the Playhouse was filled with limousines for its grand opening night. Despite this glamorous beginning, Berkshire Playhouse has always been more committed to community than profits. The Playhouse operated as a non-profit theatre even during the twenties and thirties as "at the end of each season, any profits are turned over to the Fine Arts building fund of Stockbridge," according to an August 1930 article from Heart of the Berkshires. Kirkland and Strickland not only worked to better their community, they also brought in young theatre artists to cultivate.

A Star is Born

A headline from the Berkshire Eagle on June 24, 1933 announces the arrival of new Berkshire Playhouse apprentices.

From the first summer, Berkshire Playhouse employed students from Yale University to work as their production crew. According to Walter L. Clark’s memoir, Leaves from An Artist’s Memory, Professor Baker from Yale was “pleased to have his young men practice in the summer what he was training them to do in the winter” (260). The Acting Apprentice program, also called the “Junior Company,” was established in 1929, and by 1930 such performers as Jane Wyatt and Katharine Hepburn had joined. These programs still continue almost ninety years later.

The apprentices (around a dozen for the first few years, with one of the largest groups totaling 25) spent their days learning characterization, pantomime, voice, dancing, and fencing. As of 1931, apprentices performed student productions once every two weeks. These performances were open to the Playhouse company and invited guests. The performances were in addition to them attending all Playhouse performances. Pictured to the right: A headline from the Berkshire Eagle on June 24, 1933 announces the arrival of new Berkshire Playhouse apprentices.

Apprentices were sometimes offered small roles in summer subscription shows, which afforded them the opportunity to work alongside high-caliber professional actors. They were also expected to help create the scenery and costumes for each show as part of their "general application" training in theatre. Pictured below: a poster featuring Jane Wyatt in Stage Door in 1938, a former apprentice returned as a star.

Poster of Jane Wyatt in Stage Door, 1938.

Almost ninety years later, Berkshire Theatre Group offers internships in everything from carpentry and props to marketing and finance. The acting internship program is still alive, well, and currently led by David Adkins, who was an apprentice himself back in 1985.

Berkshire Theatre Festival reflects the history of the American theatre and represents a priceless cultural resource for the community. For almost ninety years, Berkshire Theatre Festival has been committed to being a center for creative work that enriches, invigorates and transforms artists and audiences.

The First Era: The Berkshire Playhouse

(L to R): Alexander Kirkland, Donald Meek, and F. Cowles Strickland in rehearsal for Rip Van Winkle, 1929.

(L to R): Alexander Kirkland, Donald Meek, and F. Cowles Strickland in rehearsal for Rip Van Winkle, 1929.

The first directors of The Berkshire Playhouse were recruited by Walter L. Clark, who bought the Playhouse (formerly known as the Stockbridge Casino) for $1.00 and instituted the Three Arts Society in order to create a new theatre in Stockbridge. During his search for a Director, Mr. Clark was told of Alexander Kirkland, a young actor who had recently been a part of Eva Le Galliene's Civic Repertory Company.

Alexander Kirkland and Edith Barrett in Romeo and Juliet, 1930, Berkshire Playhouse.

According to a 1930 article in Heart of the Berkshires, "Kirkland immediately fell in with the plans, on the condition that he could find a partner who would share the executive responsibility and direct the productions." This partner would be F. Cowles Strickland, a recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama. (Pictured to the right: Alexander Kirkland and Edith Barrett in Romeo and Juliet, 1930, Berkshire Playhouse.)

Alexander Kirkland and F. Cowles Strickland co-directed the theatre from 1928—1930, at which point Kirkland left to pursue other opportunities, both on stage and screen. Kirkland and Strickland were keystones to the early success and longevity of the theatre.

Alexander Kirkland

Alexander KirklandAlexander Kirkland (pictured to the left) was born in Mexico City in 1901. He attended the Taft School in Connecticut and the University of Virginia. His theatre career began at the Hedgerow Theatre in Pennsylvania. He would eventually join Eva Le Galliene's Repertory Company, and toured with their production of The Cradle Song. Civic Repertory Company, and toured with their production of The Cradle Song. 

It was shortly after this that Kirkland began his time with the Berkshire Playhouse. Though he left his role as Co-Director in 1930, he would come back in later seasons to appear in plays. His journey after the Playhouse led him to Hollywood and New York, where he starred with Tallulah Bankhead in the 1931 film Tarnished Lady. He would go on to appear numerous times on Broadway. 

Alexander Kirkland and Zita Johann in The Lake, 1930, Berkshire Playhouse.

Though a prolific actor, Kirkland was also a writer who had short stories published in national magazines throughout his early acting career. In the 1950s, he embraced his literary talent and became a writer and lecturer, as well as the proprietor of an art gallery. He moved back to Guernavaca, Mexico, where he lived until his death in 1986.(Pictured to the right: Alexander Kirkland and Zita Johann in The Lake, 1930, Berkshire Playhouse.)

 

F. Cowles Strickland

F. Cowles StricklandF. Cowles Strickland worked as the Co-Director, and then Director of the Playhouse until 1934. During his tenure he founded the Berkshire Playhouse Drama School and undertook ambitious plays by such playwrights as George Bernard Shaw, Eugene O'Neill, and Shakespeare. During his final season with the theatre, he introduced a repertory style to the theatre's summer offerings. style to the theatre's summer offerings. 

After he left the Playhouse in the capable hands of William Miles, he went on to an illustrious academic career. He was the Drama Director of the Gilbert and Sullivan Club at Wesleyan until 1938. He then went on to an impressive 17-year career at Stanford University. He instituted Stanford's Artists in Residence program and in 1956 he wrote The Technique of Acting, in which he explored the various techniques used in the craft of acting. Later, He went on to become the first American director of the Finnish National Theater. He was a Professor of Drama at American University until his death in 1971.

The Berkshire Playhouse: Billy Miles' Tremendous Tenure

Left to Right: Billy Miles, S.N. Behrman, and Sidney Howard at the Opening of Declasse with Ethel Barrymore, 1935.

(L to R): Billy Miles, S. N. Behrman, and Sidney Howard at the opening of Declasse with Ethel Barrymore, 1935.

William "Billy" Miles was the Producing Director of the Berkshire Playhouse from 1935 until 1958. The Playhouse blossomed under his tenure and he was known for attracting some of the biggest female stars of the age to come and perform at the Playhouse. Before taking the reins from Strickland, Miles had worked at the Playhouse every summer since its inception.

After graduating from The Choate School, Miles studied at Yale for three weeks before deciding that his theatre career would benefit more from experience than academia. He set off for New York and worked as an actor, scenic painter, stage manager, and many other jobs.

Billy Miles, photograph from BTF archives.

He came to the Berkshire Playhouse as an actor during the 1928 season, and each subsequent summer would return and participate in a variety of ways, including as the press person. In 1932, he took over directing the Nantucket Theater, which he continued to do until 1935 when an opening for Director and Producer became available.

Miles (pictured to the right) constantly worked to revolutionize the theatre and introduced an air conditioning system, which proved to be a huge success during the hot Berkshire summers. In 1941 he spearheaded a renovation where the Playhouse was updated and expanded with the addition of modest wings to the stage as well as a soft drink bar. This was added in the space which today is taken up by the box office. 

The very next year, the Playhouse was forced to close during the war; however, Miles kept the drama school open and in his letter announcing the closure stated, "the reason that the Playhouse cannot operate this year is the gas rationing...Our plan is to form with our student group a circuit theatre, to present a different full-length play each week of the season, playing a different town on each of four nights." He wanted to ensure both that the students and patrons would be able to participate in theatre despite the harrowing times. The Playhouse re-opened in 1946, as strong as ever, and has continued to produce plays to this day, entering its 90th anniversary.

Billy Miles on a train, photo from the BTF archives.

Throughout his theatrical career, Miles (pictured to the left on a train) dipped into every aspect of the business and artistic sides, including design, directing, press, management, and even playwriting. In addition to his love of the theatre, Miles was an avid train enthusiast. It is said that he greeted every member of the Playhouse company that came into the Stockbridge train station, both for the artist and to see the trains.

After producing some of the most memorable shows of the Playhouse's long run (including Declasse and White Oaks with Ethel Barrymore, Our Town with Thornton Wilder, and Robert Sherwood's Petrified Forest) Billy Miles went on to a long and illustrious career in the theatre. In 2016, Berkshire Theatre Group celebrated Miles' 111th birthday with a benefit that helped to raise money for BTG's archives. Much of the scrapbooks in the archives were put together by Billy Miles in an effort to preserve the history of the theatre that he loved and helped to advance.

Stories of Stockbridge: Matthew Penn's Summers among the Stars

Table read of BTF's 1966 production The Skin of Our Teeth with Anne Bancroft, directed by Arthur Penn. Photo courtesy of the Penn family.

Table read of BTF's 1966 production The Skin of Our Teeth with Anne Bancroft, directed by Arthur Penn. Photo courtesy of the Penn family.

Matthew’s Journey with Berkshire Theatre:

My first experiences with the Berkshire Theatre Festival date back to the summer seasons of 1966, ‘67, and ‘68. My father (Arthur Penn) and Bill Gibson were close friends and collaborators. They’d worked together on Two for the Seesaw and The Miracle Worker, which were both Broadway successes. The Miracle Worker had also become a successful film.

Arthur Penn: Photo courtesy of the Penn family.Dad got involved with the BTF when Bill was the artistic director. [Pictured to the left: Arthur Penn. Photo courtesy of the Penn family.] I believe The Skin of Our Teeth (1966) starring Anne Bancroft was the first production Dad directed there. Annie and Bill and Arthur had become dear friends and artistic colleagues with a number of Tonys and one Oscar under their belts.

My first memories of the BTF were my occasional visits to the rehearsal room during that production of The Skin of Our Teeth. The theatre was an amazing place and seeing a play come to life was truly incredible. I remember darting in and out between the seats and aisles as they did their tech rehearsals for the production. [Pictured to the right, Anne Bancroft in The Skin of Our Teeth at BTF, 1966.]

Anne Bancroft in The Skin of Our Teeth at BTF, 1966.

The following season Dad and Bill had become co-artistic directors. Together they produced a number of plays, but one in particular stayed with me. It was a play titled Next by Terrence McNally starring James Coco whose performance was original in its tone and accomplishment. He was both funny and heartbreaking. It was a profound anti-war play about a man’s experience during his army induction examination. Watching a play that dealt with the draft and the war in southeast Asia as our country was being torn apart was a powerful event.

BTF was my first experience around the magic of theatre. It was the confluence of both family and dear family friends coming together to create some memorable theater with the Berkshire Theater Festival at the center.

Berkshire Theatre will always have a soft spot in the Penn family’s hearts. Interestingly my wife, Candace, who is a theatrical sign-language interpreter, was hired to be both the rehearsal interpreter and the performance interpreter for last summer’s production of Children of a Lesser God. In April, Children will open on Broadway and Candace will be interpreting the Broadway production as well. That’s one more connection that exists between the Penn family and the Berkshire Theatre Group. While I’ve had the great good fortune to direct many wonderful television series and plays, my own love of theater began at BTG.

Favorite Show:

Scene from Berkshire Theatre Festival's 1968 production of Terrence McNally's Next.

It’s impossible to compare the many fine productions that have been created at BTG over these decades. For me it is hard to compete with that first blush of seeing the theatre first-hand and being in the theatre during those years. Next [pictured to the left] was a simple little one act, and yet it’s quite a profound play by Terrence McNally who would become one of the significant American writers of his generation. Likewise seeing Annie Bancroft as the maid for the Antrobus family in The Skin of Our Teeth was not a memory easily forgotten by a 9-year-old boy! That was a special time in America, a special time in the arts, and a special time at BTG and my recollections of those days are very dear.

Favorite Story/Memory:

Rehearsal for The Skin of Our Teeth at BTF, 1966. Photo courtesy of the Penn family.

I remember during the tech of The Skin of Our Teeth. I had a free run of the theatre. So like any 8-year-old I took it upon myself to explore every possible place, going downstairs, upstairs and all through the house. There was something incredible about that. At one point, the lighting designer took me up to the catwalk that surrounded the lighting grid and together we looked down at the stage. To be able to look down and see all these gifted people was an unforgettable experience for a young lad. Those images and those experiences have always stayed with me and doubtless have been part of my own affection and participation in theatre. [Pictured to the right: Rehearsal of The Skin of Our Teeth at BTF, 1966. Photo courtesy of the Penn family.]

Today:

Matt Penn Headshot

Matthew Penn has directed and/or produced over 200 episodes of television dramas such as Law & Order, The Sopranos, Damages, House, and Royal Pains. He has also directed Beauty Queen of Leenane, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and Mother of the Maid at Shakespeare and Co. Last year he directed in the 10x10 festival at Barrington Stage, and will be directing there again this year. Matthew Penn is also a co-Artistic director of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab entering its 11th season.

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.

 

Soap Stars in Stockbridge: Fred Rutberg Reminisces

 

Watercolor of the Unicorn Theatre (before its 1990s renovation) by an unknown artist from the BTF archives.

Watercolor of the Unicorn Theatre (before its 1990s renovation) by an unknown artist from the BTF archives.

 

Fred’s Journey with the BTF:

I began my association with the Berkshire Theatre Festival as a lawyer. I was very excited about being able to represent the theatre. After a while, I was invited to attend an Executive Committee meeting in 1975 when I was 29 years old. Ann Straus was the President of the Board, and after I gave my little report she kind of jokingly said, “if we put you on the board you won’t charge us, will you?” Someone suggested that the secretary should be a lawyer and a local person, and suddenly I was elected to the board. Jane Fitzpatrick became the President of the Board shortly after I joined. She always had me sit next to her because she said I had a good memory, and she could call on me if needed. I stayed on the board for about 30 years. I only left because they instituted term limits, and so I was asked to serve on the Emeritus Board.

 

My Most interesting Show:

I remember when we brought in the Proposition Workshop [Theatre] and they did improv in the back of the Unicorn, the old Unicorn, what may be the prop or costume shop now. Allan Albert was in charge of that, eventually he became the artistic director. His specialty was an interesting form of theatre that he called “nonfiction theater,” which was based on first person accounts of things. Before he got here Allan had put together The Whale Show. He researched journals of whalers who were out at sea for years. It was a series of monologues with the cast on stage just telling these amazing stories. It was very compelling. One summer when the Proposition was here, they did the same type of thing based on truckers. They went to truck stops and gathered all of these stories and created Night Riders, that included original music. It was incredibly successful, and we brought it back later that summer because it was so popular.

 

My Favorite Story:

Michael Zaslow as Roger Thorpe in Guiding Light.

Josie Abady, [the Artistic Director in 1979] brought Michael Zaslow (pictured to the left) to the theatre [for Petrified Forest], it was the first play of the season. He was a big soap opera star at the time, so his name was pretty well-known in and around the area. Grais Rider was a woman in Stockbridge, who used to do my shirts. She did laundry, and I’d go to her house and pick up my shirts.  She was the sweetest person. I went there one day in the spring and she said “Did you hear? One of the actors from one of my stories is going to be at the Playhouse. [Roger Thorpe] is going to be at Berkshire Theatre!” She only knew his character name, but was so excited about him coming. I offered to take her to the theatre, but she said she couldn’t do that. So, I went to opening night of this show and Jane Fitzpatrick used to hold this huge party on opening night. I was introduced to Michael Zaslow and mentioned that this woman I know loved him and was a huge fan. He asked what her name was, and so I gave him her name and phone number. Well, the next time I went to pick up my shirts, Grais was stunned. She said, “I can’t believe it! I’ve never talked to a celebrity before!” He’d called her and simply said, “Grais, this is Roger Thorpe,” his character from the show! And the funniest part is that his character had been killed off that past season, so he came back from the dead and called her! I told her, “Now you gotta come to the theatre, Grais.” I was such a fan of this guy after, I mean he made this woman’s month. This always stuck with me and really shows that the interplay between the theatre and the community is so interesting. That was a big part of what the board tried to do during my tenure was to continue to build up that relationship with Stockbridge.

 

Today:

In addition to being an Emeritus Board Member, Fred Rutberg is also the President of the Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield. 

Stories of Stockbridge: Chapman and Ionesco

Dave's Journey with the BTG

Photograph from unknown newspaper, 1969, from the BTF archives.

Dave Chapman spent forty years working in the arts. He worked in theatre and dance doing everything from maintenance to lighting design. His love of theatre was sparked during a summer job in high school with the Berkshire Theatre Festival.

"I went to high school at Pittsfield High, and back then due to the overcrowding they had split sessions, so I had my afternoons free. I heard that the Berkshire Theatre Festival was looking for people to spruce up the playhouse for the summer season, and so I started working at BTF during the afternoons. My time there overlapped with the incoming summer staff, and I found them very interesting.

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Feigenbaum Foundation & Berkshire Theatre Group Announce Joint Effort

For Immediate Release: Friday, May 23, 2014 at 5:30pm

Pittsfield, MA— The Feigenbaum Foundation, widely-known for its respect and love of Pittsfield and the Berkshires, and Berkshire Theatre Group (BTG), a performance arts and education resource in Pittsfield and Stockbridge, today announced a joint effort that will create an education center at The Colonial Theatre and a endowment for sustaining BTG’s creative arts programming during the coming decade.

The Foundation, founded by Armand and the late Donald Feigenbaum, has pledged a ten-year endowment of up to $5 million.

“The endowment will create the Feigenbaum Center for the Performing Arts at The Colonial Theatre and develop educational initiatives there,” Ruth Blodgett, BTG Board President, said.

“The Feigenbaum brothers and their foundation always acknowledged the importance of the performing arts and education to the Pittsfield and Berkshire community,” Emil George, Feigenbaum Foundation President, said. “The Colonial Theatre is a treasure historically and should be sustained for future generations.”

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Kim Taylor appointed to President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:

·       Stephanie Cutter – Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

·       Caroline “Kim” Taylor – Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

·       Margaret Russell – General Trustee, Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

·       Mary Menell Zients – Chair, President’s Commission on White House Fellowships

President Obama said, “I am honored that these talented individuals have decided to join this Administration and serve our country.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

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BTG Fall 2013 Season Lineup

Tickets on sale to members/passholders August 20 and to general public on August 22


CALENDAR OF FALL SEASON 2013:

The Full Catastrophe: The Unicorn, Saturday, August 31 at 8pm, Sunday, September 1 at 2pm
Heather Maloney: The Garage, Friday, September 6 at 8pm
Mary and Edith: The Unicorn, See listing for performance dates and times
Dave Mason: The Colonial Theatre, Wednesday, October 9 at 7:30pm
Made in the Berkshires: See listing for locations and times, October 11-13
Wanda Houston Band: The Garage, Saturday, October 12 at 9pm
Pittsfield CityJazz Festival: The Colonial Theatre, Saturday, October 19 at 8pm
Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt: The Colonial Theatre, Wednesday, October 23 at 7:30pm
Romance, Soul and Rock ‘n Roll: The Colonial, Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26 at 7:30pm 
LoFi Sundays (RBIT): TBD
Gordon Lightfoot: The Colonial Theatre, Friday, November 8 at 8pm
Three Dog Night: The Colonial Theatre, Thursday, November 21 at 8pm
Mary Verdi: The Colonial Theatre, Saturday, November 30 at 7pm, Sunday, December 1 at 2pm
A Christmas Carol:The Colonial Theatre, See listing for performance dates and times

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Boston Globe Magazine: The Women (Published August 11, 2013)

The Women

How three visionaries rewrote the script for Berkshires theater, a story in 15 scenes.

Tina Packer, founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company; Julianne Boyd, cofounder and artistic director of Barrington Stage Company; and Kate Maguire, artistic director and CEO of Berkshire Theatre Group.

ERIC LIMON

Tina Packer, founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company; Julianne Boyd, cofounder and artistic director of Barrington Stage Company; and Kate Maguire, artistic director and CEO of Berkshire Theatre Group.
 

 

by Jeremy D. Goodwin 

I.

IT’S OPENING NIGHT for On the Town at Barrington Stage Company, and theatergoers mill about in downtown Pittsfield on this mild June evening. Most of the men wear sport coats or suits, ladies look casually elegant in cocktail dresses, teenagers take photos of one another with their iPhones. There’s a buzz in the air.

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Subcategories

  • Ticket Office Hours

    Colonial Theatre
    111 South Street Pittsfield

    • Monday-Saturday:
      10am-5pm
    • Sunday:
      10am-2pm
    • Performance days:
      10am-curtain

    (413) 997-4444


    Unicorn Theatre
    6 East Street, Stockbridge

    The Unicorn Theatre box office is now closed for the season. Please check back for Summer 2018 hours.

    (413) 997-4444


    Fitzpatrick Main Stage
    83 East Main Street, Stockbridge

    The Fitzpatrick Main Stage is now closed for the season. Please check back for Summer 2018 hours.

    (413) 997-4444

  • Directions
  • Seating

    Colonial TheatrePittsfield

    Orchestra pdforchestra
    The orchestra is the first level of the theater.

    Balcony pdfbrew works  logo
    The balcony is the second level of the theater.

    Gallery pdfgallery
    The gallery is the third level of the theater.


    Fitzpatrick Main Stage Stockbridge

    Seating pdfFitzpatrickMainStage
    This contains all seating locations at this venue.


    Unicorn TheatreStockbridge

    Seating pdfUnicornTheatre
    This contains all seating locations at this venue.