THEATER: A Very Special “Our Town” in Tyringham [Berkshire on Stage]
By Gail M. Burns
There are many ways to approach becoming a part of a new community. For Ann Gallo, as soon as she and her family moved full-time to the vacation home they’d bought in Tyringham in 1999, her method was her mission: To present a site specific community production of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Our Town outdoors adjacent to the town’s church and cemetery.
It was on Memorial Day of 2015, the year they made the permanent move to the Berkshires, that the inspiration struck Gallo as she watched the present day community honoring its war dead among the history represented by the 800 headstones, some dating from before the American Revolution, in the beautiful cemetery setting.
Incorporated in 1767, Tyringham, population 326 at the 2010 Census, is located in the Hop Brook Valley. According to Wikipedia: “To the northeast of the valley, Baldy Mountain rises to a large plateau which stretches into the neighboring towns, and includes Goose Pond. To the southwest of the valley, two mountain peaks – Mount Wilcot and Hunger Mountain – rise in a plateau in neighboring Monterey.” The Appalachian Trail passes through the town, but Tyringham is not served by any state routes. There is no shopping, banking or other commercial businesses in the town. The town flag still proudly proclaims Tyringham to be “a hinterland settlement.”
“Moving here I really wanted to do community work here the way I had been doing it in Pittsfield,” Gallo explained. “I was a relative newcomer in Tyringham so, of course, there was plenty of skepticism. Ninety-eight percent of the cast has never been on stage before.”