Westfield State invites all to take 'a walk in the woods'

Date: 6/11/2009

WESTFIELD Lee Blessing's long-running Broadway success "A Walk in the Woods" leads off The Westfield State College (WSC) Foundation's second summer season of professional theater in downtown Westfield. The play is produced in association with Actors & Company.

"A Walk in the Woods" will play June 17 to 20 and June 24 to 27 at 8 p.m. on The Stage at Piccolo's Ristorante, 110 Elm St.

Tickets can be reserved by calling 562-2277. Tickets will also be sold at the door prior to each performance. All tickets are $15.

Patrons wishing to dine at Piccolo's prior to a performance can make reservations by calling 572-1433. Reservations are advised for 6 p.m. to conclude the dining experience prior to the 8 p.m. curtain.

The play features Ashley Shea as the American negotiator. She appeared last season as Emily Dickinson in WSC Foundation's production of "The Belle of Amherst."

Jack Shea plays her Russian counterpart and also directs.

Both actors appear under a special appearance agreement with Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional stage actors.

Originally staged on Broadway in 1988, Blessing's play continues to resonate in the current post-Cold War world. A seasoned Russian arms control negotiator and his new and less experienced American counterpart take a walk in the woods near Geneva after meeting for many fruitless hours over the bargaining table.

One is cynical, the other idealistic about the chances for a meaningful outcome to the long process. The progress of the negotiations and the development of their relationship are revealed in these informal encounters in the woods during each of the four seasons over the course of a year.

The play has been described as "an important, brilliantly executed and strikingly original play which brings deep perception and unexpected humor to its probing examination" of the negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

Drama-Logue called the play "a marvelous piece of theatre as well as a great treatise on the nature of mankind" and that it "should take its place as a classic of dramatic literature."

A Time Magazine review of its Broadway opening, called the play "not only the best of the few dramas to reach Broadway this season, but also the funniest comedy."

This production of "A Walk in the Woods" is made possible in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Westfield Cultural Council, and it is produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc.