The Master and Margarita Comes to Life at Riggs Theatre 37
by Aaron Beatty
Beginning Wednesday, December 10 and continuing through Sunday, December 14, Riggs Theatre 37 is staging a production of The Master and Margarita, based on the novel by Mikhail Bulgakov. These performances are the culmination of ten intensive weeks of planning, preparation, instruction and rehearsal, stewarded by long-time Riggs Theatre Director (and Shakespeare and Company Education Director) Kevin G. Coleman.
Historically, each spring, Riggs Theatre 37 performs a work by Shakespeare, while the annual December show is “usually a play with a worthy story to tell,” says Coleman. At the beginning of the ten-week process, interested Riggs patients meet with Coleman, read through plays and, based on the number of potential actors, arrive at a consensus about which play to perform. Usually, community theatre members are recruited to fill out the cast. This is the 38th show Coleman has directed for Riggs Theatre 37, and he credits Riggs patients for suggesting this particular play and moving it forward. “They got really excited about this one…and know the background very well,” he remarked.
What is co-created by Coleman and the cast during the weeks leading up to the play is an “environment where you can take risks you’ve never taken in your life,” says Coleman. Often times this is the first theatre experience for some of the cast members and the work is very challenging. The act of being in a theatre performance “makes extreme demands on you physically….your medium is yourself, your own vulnerability, your own voice,” says Coleman.
In order to contain or hold this challenging work, Coleman begins each rehearsal with a “check-in,” allowing cast members the space to “become present” and ends with a space for positive reinforcement and a space to give each other praise, a time during which Coleman said cast members often remark on not realizing previously how much fun it is to put on a performance.
Aside from acting, cast members take up an active role in preparing the set, handling lighting, developing choreography, working on sound and music, even designing the poster to advertise the play itself. Coleman remarked, “This is a great learning experience, community building experience…it’s transformative.”
As for what the audience can expect at this show, Coleman relayed his enthusiasm for the performance by saying, “This show has everything…it’s a wild ride” and remarked that it is “more than a meal…it’s a 15-course banquet!”
Nightly performances will be held December 10-14 beginning at 7:30pm at 37 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA. For tickets and reservations, please call  298.5519 x5606.
*Note: this performance is not suitable for young children.