Berkeley Rep Adds NOT A GENUINE BLACK MAN to 2013-14 Season
Today Berkeley Repertory Theatre announces the 10th anniversary presentation of Brian Copeland's Not a Genuine Black Man, the longest-running solo show in San Francisco history. After over 700 performances in its initial seven-year run in more than 30 cities including San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as off Broadway, Copeland's acclaimed show comes to Berkeley Rep's Osher Studio for 18 performances this April. Copeland, a writer, actor, comedian, and radio talk-show host, recounts his story of growing up black in the 1970s in San Leandro, California, a city once nationally known as one of the most racist in America. With wit and heartfelt passion, he explores the themes of racial identity and ultimately, belonging. "Very funny," raved the San Francisco Chronicle. "Copeland is a winning, magnetic performer. More than that, he's got an important tale to tell!" Directed and developed in part by David Ford, Not a Genuine Black Man previews on April 23, 2014, opens April 25, 2014, and plays through May 31, 2014. Tickets are on sale now.
"Brian's personal history offers fantastic fodder for an evening of theatre," says Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone. "His stories paint vivid characters that populate a diverse emotional landscape. Not a Genuine Black Man looks at race relations with an unflinching honesty, yet at the same time isn't afraid to crack a joke. We're glad Brian will celebrate the 10th anniversary of this show in our Osher Studio this spring."
"I'm thrilled to be performing Not a Genuine Black Man at Berkeley Rep - a theatre I have long admired," remarks Copeland. "I never imagined the show would be so well-received and have this incredible longevity. But I've come to realize the show's mix of comedy and pathos makes people really think about who they are and who we are as a nation and a people. After all these years of performing the show, I feel that my portrayals of the characters have become sharper. I continue to find things in the play that can evoke a laugh or an emotional reaction that I hadn't thought of before. I hope the audience leaves feeling that they have had a great evening of thought-provoking, entertaining theatre."
Since its 2004 premiere at the Marsh, Not a Genuine Black Man has received effusive praise on every stage it has been performed. "A beautiful mix of wry humor and heartbreak, indignation and inspiration!" hails the San Francisco Chronicle. "Copeland is a GENUINE discovery!" declares the Los Angeles Times. "A singular story of extreme isolation that speaks to anyone who's ever felt out of place." "Engaging!" proclaims the New York Times. "Copeland's ability to captivate an audience rivals many a celebrated solo predecessor from Ruth Draper to Spalding Gray to Whoopi Goldberg..."
Brian Copeland has been in show business since he first stepped on the comedy stage at the tender age of 18. Soon he was headlining clubs and concerts across the country and opening for such artists as Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Ringo Starr, and the queen of soul Aretha Franklin, in venues from the Universal Amphitheater to Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. Soon, Copeland branched out into television, appearing on comedy programs on NBC, A&E, and MTV. He spent five years as co-host of San Francisco FOX affiliate KTVU's breakfast program Mornings on 2 and two years hosting San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO's Emmy Award-winning afternoon talk show 7Live. In 1995, ABC affiliate KGO Radio premiered The Brian Copeland Show. Its unique mix of talk and entertainment soon made it the most listened to program in its time slot. In 2004, Copeland premiered his first solo play, Not a Genuine Black Man at the Marsh. This critically acclaimed exploration of race and identity created an audience-pleasing blend of laughter, tears, and sociology that led to the show becoming the longest- running solo play in San Francisco theatrical history. Successful runs in Los Angeles and off Broadway and a bestselling book adaptation followed. Copeland's other theatrical work includes The Waiting Period, a solo play about his lifelong struggle with depression, and the Christmas play The Jewelry Box, which opened November 2013 at the Marsh.