At the Abbey of Regina Laudis  • 249 Flanders Road • Bethlehem, CT 06751  |  Directions
For tickets and information visit: The Gary-The Olivia Performing Arts Center.

Go to Current Production Schedule.

companyIn 2014 Sally and Thomas Camm chose a name for the actors' company working at The Gary-The Olivia Theater. A theater company is a body of actors committed to preparation and performance of a play. The Clay & Wattles Theater Company is a 501-c3 performing arts and educational nonprofit organization. Thomas and Sally explain the inspiration behind their choice of the name:

The name Clay & Wattles has a literary reference in the W.B.Yeats’ poem, ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ and communicates the importance of having a connection to nature in a person’s life. It starts, ‘I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made.’ theaterClay & wattles also are ancient building materials, found in nature and used throughout the world. They provide a strong yet flexible resource for building and a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to other conventional methods and materials. By analogy nature’s sounds, scents and movements permeate the stage at The Gary-The Olivia Theater and in fact are sometimes used to extend and enhance the set and stage design. Nature is clearly a part of the experience at The Gary-The Olivia. The presence and awareness of nature can help to ground the performer in his/her body, feelings, experience and intuition as they attempt to bring a character to life and draw out the humanness in a role. So on stage clay and wattles (nature) is a kind of touchstone, that if we are fortunate enough, helps us connect with and express our common humanity.

Mother DoloresThe Gary-The Olivia Theater is an open air theater that was built in 1982 and seats about 300 people. The theater is covered but opens at the back to the woods of the Abbey land, and the trees and birds are often a feature of the theatrical world that is created on stage. The link between drama and monastic life is an ancient one, but The Gary-The Olivia Theater in particular owes its existence to Reverend Mother Dolores Hart, the actress, who in 1963 gave up a successful Hollywood career to become a nun at the Abbey. Far from putting an end to her acting career, she discovered that monastic life transcended her acting vocation: Obviously a cloistered monastery is not the conventional place that one goes to realize one's potential as an actress. And yet, in my case, my vocation as an actress could only have reached its fullest expression, its fullest expansion because I was fortunate enough to have been called to a monastic way of life.

In the 1970's, a company of actors called the Act Association formed around James and Dawn Douglas, friends of Mother Dolores, and fellow actors. Patricia Neal and James Douglas performed together in A.R. Gurney's play Love Letters, and over the years productions by the group have ranged from Shakespeare to Sartre, from opera to musical reviews. The Theater has also performed musicals in recent years: My Fair Lady, The Music Man, Fiddler On The Roof, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls and Oklahoma, South Pacific and Fiorello. You can read the glowing reviews of these performances at the Clay & Wattles Theater Company website.

Sally The mission of Clay & Wattles Theater Company, as expressed by directors Sally and Thomas Camm, is organize, manage and execute a professional performing arts center Sally(theater, music, dance) that provides unique opportunities to integrate the arts, gives performers a professional and supportive environment in which to grow and develop their performing skills and provides audiences with rich, complex and compelling theatrical experiences of what it is to be human—and in so doing enrich the cultural landscape of Northwest, CT and the greater CT, NY and NJ region.

theater Currently the Camms produce two major productions a year, a play and a musical (with the goal of expanding the number and variety of productions in the future), along with an annual concert/fundraiser for the theater. The productions are attended by over 3000 people and are reviewed by major media outlets in Connecticut. Auditions are held each year and actors from the local community theater network, local colleges and universities, and from Actor’s Equity audition for roles in the various productions. And there are newcomers, young people who live in the area for whom the experience of acting at the Abbey theater has opened up a new and rich dimension to their lives. For more information on how to get involved visit the Clay & Wattles Theater Company website.

bountiful The 2015 Season of the Clay & Wattles Theater Company at The Gary-The Olivia Theater began with a masterpiece—the lyrical and moving drama The Trip To Bountiful a play by Oscar Winner (To Kill A Mockingbird) Horton Foote. The performances, spear-headed by Sarah Robards as Carrie Watts, received rave reviews.

Carrie Watts (Sarah Robards) and Thelma (Caroline McCaughey) hymn singin'
Jessie Mae (Katie Keough) in Trip to Bountiful
is irrepressible!

From Joanne Rochman's Rave Review: 'Make the Trip to Bountiful!'
Director Sally Camm embraces the integrity of both place and play and allows the Clay & Wattles Theater Company to home in on the very essence of this poignant story.

Sarah Robards plays Carrie Watts, the protagonist of the play. Her performance is so unpretentious, so natural and warm that you forget she is acting.

Overall, this is a wonderful play about going back to one’s roots. It’s about learning to compromise in important relationships, and mostly it’s about respect for one another and honoring one’s personal freedom.
Read Joanne Greco Rochman's full review.

theaterOur musical for the 2015 season is the Tony Award winning Man of La Mancha which will run from August 1st through the 16th. Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 pm and Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm. The musical tells the story of the “mad” knight, Don Quixote, as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition. Songs such as "All the Same", "Dulcinea", "I’m Only Thinking of Him", "The Impossible Dream", "I Really Like Him" and "Little Bird" will stay with you long after the curtain closes. The original 1965 Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Performance Schedule
Read the July 30th article Classic Dreamer Don Quixote Brought to Life at the Abbey in Bethlehem
in the Litchfield County Times.

Thomas Camm as Cervantes/Don Quixote
Katie Keough as Aldonza/Dulcinea
Left to Right: Anselmo (Korrie Blossey), Jose (Brother Kevin McElroy), Tenorio (Alex Gellweiler), Paco (Jonathan Gibbons), Pedro (Maurio Hines), Cervantes/Don Quixote (Thomas Camm), Antonia (Megan Corcoran), Maria (Barbara Salant), Juan (Steve Sorriero), and Fermina (Alexandra Camm).
Photo: Contributed Photo /Bryan Haeffele

For more information and to purchase tickets visit the Clay & Wattles Theater Company website.
Tickets are also available at the box office in front of the theater 1 hour before the show.

breadSince many friends and guests will be attending the Sunday matinee performances of Man of La Mancha at the Abbey's The Gary-The Olivia Theater, we are extending the Monastic Art Shop hours. The Art Shop will be opened uninterrupted from 10:00 am—6:00 pm on Sundays, August 2nd, 9th and 16th. As a special treat this year freshly-baked Abbey bread will be available for sale. Come before the 2:30 theater performance to browse and purchase farmstead products, woven and knitted goods, perfumes, objects made in the Blacksmith Shop, and greeting cards highlighting the artwork of some of the Abbey nuns and monastic artists. Or come after the performance to pick up bread for supper and see the new items available in the shop.
Sunday, August 2nd, 9th and 16th
Extended Hours: Art Shop open uninterrupted 10:00 am—6:00 pm.

A third performance, a Concert/Fundraiser for The Gary-The Olivia Theater entitled From Rags To Riches will take place on Saturday, September 19th from 3-6 pm with special guest artists performing dramatic readings, songs, and dances. The event includes wine, cheese, and chocolates and a reception with a meet and greet with the performers.

Don’t miss the 2015 Season which includes:
•Workshops (Voice, Drama, Dance – Times & Dates TBA)
•Main Stage Musical & Play
•Opening Night Gala with Cheese & Wine Reception
•Annual Fundraiser “From Rags To Riches” (Saturday, September 19, 2015) with Special Guest Artists Wine, Cheese and Chocolate reception

Special Offers: •Season Subscriptions for Groups and Individuals
•Special Rates for Seniors
•Youth 11 years and under—Admitted Free

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For more information and to purchase tickets visit the Clay & Wattles Theater Company website.
Tickets are also available at the box office in front of the theater 1 hour before the show.

The 2014 Season opened in June with performances of one act plays Blind Date and The Actor written by American Playwright Horton Foote. These beautifully written comedies set in the fictional town of Harrison, Texas delighted the audiences.
The musical for the 2014 season which received rave reviews was the classic Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun.

From the opening strains of the overture played by the fine eight-member orchestra under the direction of Jerold Goldstein, this production did not disappoint. For me, the show actually began when we got our first sight of the magnificent scenery designed and painted by Matt Wood...
New York based actress Chandra Albritton was cast in the title role and was a pleasure to watch. She nailed Annie’s spunkiness and sang her many musical numbers beautifully. Thomas Camm was also strong in the part of Frank Butler and his vocal ability matched that of Ms. Albritton perfectly.
From Opening Night Review by Nancy Sasso Janis