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Berkshire Playwrights Lab fundraises to continue elevating new voices, talent

GREAT BARRINGTON — For 12 years, Berkshire Playwrights Lab has offered established writers, as well as emerging ones, a creative environment to develop their work. And though this year’s season has wrapped, the nonprofit has begun fundraising to continue seeing its mission through for its 13th season.
Founded in 2007 by Joe Cacaci, Jim Frangione, Bob Jaffee and Matthew Penn, Berkshire Playwrights Lab has presented nearly 60 original works, which includes full-length plays that have been produced or workshopped, said Casey McShain, general manager of the lab.
The organization is the only nonprofit theater company dedicated to the evolution of a play.
“It gives playwrights an opportunity to birth their plays,” said Cacaci. “It’s a gestational experience.”
From December to April, co-artistic directors, Cacaci and Penn, who have remained a part of the organization, read roughly 100 plays, Penn estimates. In that time, the pair looks for ideas that leap off the page. By page 22, the co-artistic directors know whether that story will be one of the four to seven plays that are told, said Cacaci.
Once a play is added to the lineup, the lab cultivates a crew of actors, some of which have a well-established career, and a four-day process is scheduled. As part of the process, actors and directors perform a table read of the play. During that time, the playwright can see what’s working and what’s not and make changes, said Cacaci.
“The playwright is introduced to a world they didn’t see two weeks ago,” said Penn of the process. “That’s the strength of the lab and the joy of what it does.”

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