Patinkin Leads COMPULSION at Berkeley Rep, 9/16-10/31

Patinkin_Leads_COMPULSION_at_Berkeley_Rep_20010101

Even as its shows reach New York and London, Berkeley Repertory Theatre begins another season of fearless theatre here at home: Emmy- and Tony Award-winning actor Mandy Patinkin stars in the world-premiere production of Compulsion on Berkeley Rep's intimate Thrust Stage. Acclaimed director Oskar Eustis returns to the Bay Area with Rinne Groff's latest play, a kaleidoscopic collision of history and culture that combines stellar acting with marvelous marionettes. Compulsion, a world-premiere co-production from Berkeley Rep, The Public Theater, and Yale Repertory Theatre, begins previews on September 13, opens September 16, and closes October 31.

"It brings me nothing but joy to welcome Oskar back to the Bay Area, where we grew up as friends and colleagues," says Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. "He has done a fantastic job at the helm of The Public in New York, and our mutual trust in each other and our organizations has allowed us to collaborate on many projects. The latest of these is Compulsion, written by the gifted Rinne Groff, whose intellect and imagination are everywhere apparent in this multilayered new play. Brought to life by a terrific ensemble of actors and puppeteers led by the incomparable Mandy Patinkin, Compulsion promises to be a special event."

"Coming back to Berkeley is a joy for me, and a multiple homecoming: back to the Bay Area where I spent my formative 20s, back to Berkeley Rep where I have joyously worked, and back to my old comrade in arms, Tony Taccone," Eustis remarks. "I have watched with admiration and not a little awe as Tony, Susie [Medak], and Les [Waters] have turnEd Berkeley Rep into one of the premier theatres in the country, and the deep affinity I feel with their social and artistic mission makes the Rep a natural partner for The Public. Our collaboration on Passing Strange was a model for what theatres can do when they work together with integrity and passion; I have no doubt Compulsion will be another important chapter in our ongoing story."

Adds James Bundy, artistic director of Yale Rep: "It is a great privilege for Yale Repertory Theatre and the Yale Center for New Theatre to collaborate with our colleagues at Berkeley Rep and The Public on a play of such vivid originality. Compulsion galvanized Connecticut audiences, and we look forward to the ongoing national conversation about this unique theatrical event and its subjects."

Compulsion was commissioned by Berkeley Rep and The Public Theater and is a co-production of Berkeley Rep, The Public Theater, and Yale Repertory Theatre, where the show debuted in January. This production will transfer to The Public in February 2011, becoming the 14th show in the last 14 years to move from Berkeley Rep to New York City. The executive producers for the local run are Shirley D. and Philip D. Schild, the Strauch Kulhanjian Family, Jean and Michael Strunsky, and Julie M. Weinstein. The Ira and Leonore Gershwin Philanthropic Fund and The Koret Foundation serve as production sponsors. BART and Wells Fargo have renewed their commitment as season sponsors at Berkeley Rep, and the 2010-11 season producer is Marjorie Randolph. The commissioning and development of Compulsion was supported in part by the Mosse Artistic Development Fund.

Sid Silver is obsessed. When he learns about a young girl named Anne Frank and her extraordinary diary, he makes it his mission to ensure her tale is heard. But is the manuscript a work of art? A cultural treasure? Once publishers and producers get involved, it becomes "a very valuable product" - and Silver's good intentions prove to be his undoing. Inspired by the life of Meyer Levin, this important new play takes us on a journey from passion to Compulsion.

Rinne Groff's work has been seen off Broadway, at theatres across America, and on TV. Her plays include The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem, produced at Target Margin Theater; Inky, produced at Women's Project; Jimmy Carter Was a Democrat, produced at Performance Space 122; The Moliere Impromptu, produced at Trinity Repertory Company; Orange Lemon Egg Canary, produced as part of Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival of New Plays; The Ruby Sunrise, produced at The Public; and What Then, produced at Clubbed Thumb. She also wrote the book and co-wrote the lyrics for In the Bubble at American Musical Theatre Project and wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the book for Saved at Playwrights Horizons. Groff also wrote for a season of Weeds on Showtime. She has received a Whiting Writers Award, Obie Award and NYSCA Individual Artist grants, and fellowships from the Australian National Playwrights Conference, Chautauqua Theater Company, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the Perry Mansfield New Noises Festival, and the Sundance Theatre Lab. Groff is a founding member of Elevator Repair Service and a member of New Dramatists and the Dramatists Guild. She earned her BA from Yale University and her MFA from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where she teaches in the Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing.

Oskar Eustis has been the artistic director of The Public since 2005. From 1981 through 1986, he was resident director and dramaturg at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, and artistic director until 1989. Then he moved to LA's Mark Taper Forum as associate artistic director, where he remained until 1994, before serving as artistic director at Trinity Rep for 11 years. At The Public, Eustis staged the 2008 Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet, featuring Michael Stuhlbarg and Sam Waterston, and the New York premiere of The Ruby Sunrise by Rinne Groff. At Trinity Rep, he directed the world premiere of The Ruby Sunrise, as well as Tony Kushner's Angels in America (earning the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director for Part 1), Kushner's Homebody/Kabul (Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Production), and the world premiere of The Long Christmas Ride Home by Paula Vogel (Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Production). He has directed premieres for Philip Kan Gotanda, David Henry Hwang, Emily Mann, Eduardo Machado, Ellen McLaughlin, and Suzan-Lori Parks, among many others. Along with Tony Taccone, he commissioned Angels in America at the Eureka and directed its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. Eustis was a professor of theatre, speech, and dance at Brown University, where he founded and chaired the Trinity Rep/Brown University Consortium for professional theatre training. He received an Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Achievement in 2005 and won a Tony Award with The Public for producing the 2009 revival of Hair. He currently serves as Professor of Dramatic Writing and Arts and Public Policy at NYU.

Mandy Patinkin won the Tony Award for his Broadway debut in Evita and was again nominated for Sunday in the Park with George and The Wild Party. He also performed on Broadway in Falsettos, The Secret Garden, The Shadow Box, Trelawny of the ‘Wells,' and his solo concerts Celebrating Sondheim, Dress Casual, and Mamaloshen. For The Public, Mandy appeared in Dress Casual; Hamlet; Henry IV, Part 1; The Knife; Leave It to Beaver Is Dead; Rebel Women; and The Winter's Tale. His other theatre credits include Enemy of the People, Savages, The Split, and most recently Compulsion in New Haven and Paradise Found at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London. On screen, he has been seen in Alien Nation, The Choking Man, Daniel, Dick Tracy, The Doctor, The House on Carroll Street, Impromptu, Lulu on the Bridge, Maxie, Men with Guns, The Music of Chance, Pinero, The Princess Bride, Ragtime, Squanto: Indian Warrior, True Colors, and Yentl, as well as The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. His television series include Chicago Hope (Emmy Award), Criminal Minds, and Showtime's Dead Like Me. His solo albums include Mandy Patinkin, Mandy Patinkin Dress Casual, and several recordings on the Nonesuch label: Experiment, Kidults, Mamaloshen, Mandy Patinkin Sings Sondheim, and Oscar and Steve. Patinkin continues to tour his solo concerts, as well as An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, and this fall he will debut a new concert with opera star Nathan Gunn.

Patinkin performs alongside two accomplished actors. Hannah Cabell was last seen at Berkeley Rep in the world premiere of In the Next Room (or the vibrator play). Her New York credits include the Broadway revival of A Man for All Seasons at the Roundabout Theatre Company, as well as Gentleman Caller at Clubbed Thumb, Jane Eyre at The Acting Company, Mark Smith and The Zero Hour at 13P, Millicent Scowlworthy at the Summer Play Festival, and Pumpgirl at Manhattan Theatre Club. Matte Osian returns to Berkeley Rep where he performed in the West Coast premiere of Mad Forest. On Broadway, he appeared in Twelfth Night at Lincoln Center and Twelve Angry Men for Roundabout. His off-Broadway credits include The Adjustment with the Jewish Repertory Theatre, Portia Coughlan at the Times Square Theater, Portraits at Union Square Theatre, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui for the National Actors Theatre, and Silence, Cunning, Exile for The Public. The ensemble for Compulsion also features three puppeteers: Emily DeCola, Daniel Patrick Fay, and Eric Wright.

Eustis has assembled a talented team of designers for this production. Eugene Lee (scenic designer) designEd Berkeley Rep's recent production of Coming Home, and his work can also beseen in the Bay Area in the Broadway musical Wicked. He has received the Tony Award, the American Theatre Wing's Design Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, the Outer Critics' Circle Award, and the Pell Award, and was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Lee has been the production designer of Saturday Night Live since 1974. Susan Hilferty (costume designer) has designed hundreds of productions from the Bay Area to Broadway and beyond. For Berkeley Rep, she created costumes for Born in the RSA, The Convict's Return, Dream of a Common Language, The Illusion, The Road to Mecca, The Tooth of Crime, Twelfth Night, and The Woman Warrior. Her designs for Wicked earned her the 2004 Tony, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama Desk Awards. Michael Chybowski (lighting designer) lit two previous productions at Berkeley Rep: The Beaux' Stratagem and Much Ado About Nothing. He has worked on Broadway, off Broadway, and at noted theatre and opera companies across America. The head of lighting for Brandeis University's theatre training program, Chybowski received an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in 1999. The work of Darron L West (sound designer) has been heard in more than 400 Broadway, off-Broadway, national, and international productions, including two previous world premieres at Berkeley Rep: Finn in the Underworld and To the Lighthouse. A founding member of Anne Bogart's Siti Company, he is the recipient of Audelco, Eddy, Hewes, Lortel, Obie, and Princess Grace Awards. Locally, Jeff Sugg (projection designer) has created projections for the San Francisco Symphony and the SF Mime Troupe. He has also worked with Accinosco, Arena Stage, The Colllapsable Giraffe, DASS Dance, La Jolla Playhouse, New York Theatre Workshop, Pig Iron Theater Company, Transmission Projects, and the Vineyard Theatre, where he won Henry Hewes, Obie, and Lucille Lortel Awards for The Slugbearers of Kayrol Island. Matt Acheson (puppet designer/puppetry supervisor) performed, built, and toured with Basil Twist's productions of La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco, Master Peter's Puppet Show, Petrushka, and Symphonie Fantastique. He also worked on Lee Breuer's A Prelude to Death in Venice, Dan Hurlin's Disfarmer and Hiroshima Maiden, Mabou Mines' Peter and Wendy, and Paula Vogel's A Long Christmas Ride Home. Acheson directs the St. Ann's Warehouse Puppet Lab with Tom Lee. The stage manager for this production is Michael Suenkel, Berkeley Rep's resident production stage manager.

During the run of Compulsion, theatregoers can enjoy 32 special events:

* Low-cost previews take place on Monday, September 13; Tuesday, September 14; and Wednesday, September 15.
* Teen Night begins at 5:30 PM on Sunday, September 19 and includes dinner, a behind-the-scenes discussion with a member of the artistic team, and a performance of
* Compulsion. Tickets are only $10 for high-school students. For details, call (510) 647-2972 or e-mail school@berkeleyrep.org.
* Opening night festivities are held on Thursday, September 16, including a pre-show dinner for donors catered by Bistro Liaison on our celebrated Roda stage and a post-show party for the audience featuring wines from Raymond Vineyards.
* Free 30-minute docent presentations about the show take place at 7:00 PM on the following Tuesday and Thursday evenings: September 14, September 21, September 23, September 28, September 30, October 12, October 14, October 19, October 21, October 26, and October 28.
* Post-play discussions moderated by theatre professionals follow the 8:00 PM shows on Thursday, September 30; Friday, October 15; and Tuesday, October 26.
* And, on select evenings, patrons can whet their palates for the play with free tastings from these culinary artisans one hour before curtain: Ale Industries on October 2, Artesa Vineyards and Winery on October 9, Back to Earth Catering on October 8, Dr. Kracker on October 3, Gather Restaurant on September 24, Happy Girl Kitchen on September 18, Kokomo Wines on September 19, and Scream Sorbet on October 10.

Theatre-lovers can guarantee their seats for these shows by subscribing to Berkeley Rep. Choose three or more plays and get the best seats at the lowest price. In addition to significant savings, subscribers receive valuable benefits such as the right to reschedule for free, discounts when purchasing tickets for friends, and the opportunity to secure seats before the general public for special events like solo shows from David Sedaris and John Leguizamo. Best of all, subscribers have guaranteed seats to sold-out shows while others are turned away. Generous discounts are available for senior citizens, theatregoers under 30, and employees of preschools, elementary schools, and secondary schools. Ticket packages begin as low as $81 - and subscribers save up to 26% on every ticket. Because of last season's string of hits, subscriptions to Berkeley Rep are selling fast. For the best seats, order now.

Individual tickets to Compulsion and other shows in Berkeley Rep's season go on sale August 29. Seats start at only $29. Additional savings are available for groups, seniors, students, and anyone under 30 years of age - meaning discounted tickets can be obtained for as little as $14.50. These prices make Berkeley Rep more affordable to people in the community who are just starting school, starting careers, and starting families - because lower prices are now available for every performance.

So come to Compulsion. The Thrust Stage is located at 2025 Addison Street, near bus lines, bike routes, and parking lots - and only half a block from BART. For tickets or information, call (510) 647-2949 or toll-free at (888) 4-BRT-Tix - or simply click berkeleyrep.org.

Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage to a national leader in innovative theatre. Known for its core values of imagination and excellence, as well as its educated and adventurous audience, the nonprofit has provided a welcoming home for emerging and established artists since 1968. The Theatre welcomes an annual audience of 180,000, serves 20,000 students, and hosts dozens of community groups, thanks to 1,000 volunteers and more than 400 artists, artisans, and administrators. With two stages, a school, and a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, Berkeley Rep is proud to premiere exhilarating new plays. In the last five years alone, the company has helped send five shows to Broadway: American Idiot, Bridge & Tunnel, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), Passing Strange, and Wishful Drinking. Come see tomorrow's plays today at Berkeley Rep.

The Public Theater was founded by Joseph Papp in 1954 and is now one of the nation's preeminent cultural institutions, producing new plays, musicals, and revivals of classics. The Public's mandate to create a theatre for all New Yorkers reaches more than 250,000 people each year at its downtown headquarters, Joe's Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public has won

42 Tony Awards, 151 Obie Awards, 41 Drama Desk Awards, and four Pulitzer Prizes and transferred 54 shows to Broadway, including the Tony Award-winning revival of Hair, the rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and the 2010 Shakespeare in the Park production of The Merchant of Venice. Visit publictheater.org.

Yale Repertory Theatre is dedicated to the production of new plays and bold interpretations of classics and has produced well over 100 premieres-including two Pulitzer Prize winners and four other nominated finalists-by emerging and established playwrights. Eleven Yale Rep productions have advanced to Broadway, garnering more than 40 Tony Award nominations and eight Tony Awards. Yale Rep is also the recipient of the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Established in 2008, the Yale Center for New Theatre is an integrated, artist-driven initiative that devotes major resources to the commissioning, development, and production of new plays and musicals at Yale Repertory Theatre and across the country. Professional assignments at Yale Repertory Theatre are integral components of the program at Yale School of Drama, the nation's leading graduate theatre training conservatory. Visit www.yalerep.org.

Photo Courtesy: Berkeley Repertory Theatre

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