The Rural We: Rebecca Weiss
For two years, Rebecca Weiss has served as the literary associate at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Mass. Working closely with Julianne Boyd, the theater’s artistic director, she has a strong hand in picking the season’s lineup of shows. Prior to joining BSC, she worked with a cultural center and ran a theater company in New York City. Weiss was an actress, but was drawn to the other side of the stage. At BSC, she is also the producer of the 10x10 short plays as part of Pittsfield’s 10x10 Festival each February.
I started as an actress, then got interested in directing and producing. I had an internship at Ars Nova [an organization that develops and produces work by artists in the early stages of their professional careers]. I fell in love with that side of producing and season planning.
My job as literary associate is to help pick the season’s shows, mixing new plays, world premieres, commissions, and plays that may not have had an east coast premiere. We try to find interesting playwrights and plays, identifying the right pieces to fit with the Barrington Stage mission and audiences.
I read a lot of scripts! Also, Julie and I split our time between Pittsfield and the city in the fall and spring. We see a lot of shows, meet with potential artists, designers and directors, and attend readings and workshops. I’m producer of the 10x10 at Barrington, and to do 10-minute plays from 10 playwrights, I might have to read 200 scripts.
I’m also involved in other activities that are programmatic with the shows each season, such as the talkbacks and community outreach programs. One of my other responsibilities is to function as the company’s dramaturge, which involves doing research to support the actors and directors on a show. For example, “The Chinese Lady” is a show this season about the first female Chinese immigrant to America who performed in a side show. As dramaturge I would do historical research on women in that culture and practices around foot binding, giving the cast and director information so the characters can be authentically portrayed. Basically, it’s to support the production one it’s out of the playwright’s hands.
For one of our three world premieres this year, “Well Intentioned White People,” the process started because Julie loved the title and asked me to get a copy of the script, which I did. I read and loved it, and gave my thoughts to Julie. Over the past six months, we’ve been working with the playwright in development to get the script ready for production, and now it will premiere on the St. Germain Stage in the middle of August.
I keep an apartment in Brooklyn but I’m in Pittsfield for the summer and in February preparing for 10x10. I love the Berkshires, love being out of the city and experiencing nature. I’m particularly fond of the Clark for its combination of art and nature.
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