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Williamstown Theatre Festival

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

So, what is a “co-production” anyways?

You may have noticed that the 2009 Williamstown season opening production of A.R. Gurney’s CHILDREN is a co-production with the Westport Country Playhouse. Now, you might be asking yourself, “What is a ‘co-production’”?

A co-production, or “co-pro”, is when two (or more) theatre companies team up to present the same production of the same play. Simply, the show that you’ll see in Williamstown is the same show that ran to rave reviews in Westport, CT in early June. The same group of four actors (Mary Bacon, Katie Finneran, Judith Light, and James Waterson), the same director (John Tillinger), designers (James Noone – Sets, Jane Greenwood – Costumes, Rui Rita – Lights, and Scott Killian– Sound), and even the physical production (set, clothes, props, etc) all return to reprise their roles just in another locale.

Co-pros enable theatre companies with similar artistic sensibilities to partner up and offer their audiences a chance to see a great play that they may not have been able to otherwise. Theatres often bemoan how their productions are ephemeral. By doubling the length of the run and potential viewers, a co-pro can add a sense of permanence to an otherwise transient endeavor.

Audiences most certainly benefit from being able to see a co-pro, but the artists involved do so as well. In addition to being able to share their craft with wider viewership, having a second crack at a play so close together allows the actors to dig deeper into their characters and really explore the material further. Like plays on Broadway with extended runs, co-productions change over time and those subtle differences are what make each performance unique.

Williamstown has done several co-productions in the past. BEYOND THERAPY by Christopher Durang last season and Nicholas Martin’s 2000 production of HEDDA GABLER were both co-pros with Sag Harbor, NY’s Bay Street Theatre (and both starred festival favorite Kate Burton).

We are very proud to present CHILDREN with the Westport Country Playhouse. As you always hope with a co-production, the more cooks we have, the more delicious the meal. We very much hope you enjoy it.

by Justin Waldman [Artistic Associate]

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