Tony Taccone, the artistic director of Berkeley Repertory
Theatre, announced today that the Tony Award-winning company will conclude its
2008/09 Season with the world premiere of You, Nero, a new comedy written by
Amy Freed and directed by Sharon Ott, will rule the Thrust Stage from May 8
through June 21, 2009. Starring Danny Scheie as the preposterous emperor of
You, Nero will be produced in association with South Coast Repertory, where it
debuts in January. Press notes state "It crowns an ambitious season that starts
with the premiere of Itamar Moses' Yellowjackets and then brings a parade of
brilliant artists back to Berkeley Rep's stage, including Delroy Lindo, Martin
McDonagh, Sarah Ruhl, Les Waters, and Mary Zimmerman. This is the latest coup
for Berkeley Rep: the Theatre repeatedly set box-office records in recent
months while celebrating its 40th birthday even after reducing ticket prices
to the lowest level in ten years and it has a Tony Award-winning musical on Broadway
and two celebrated solo shows touring the nation".
"You, Nero is the perfect way to end the coming year, on a
high note of incisive, satiric wit," Taccone remarked. "Modern American life
bears a remarkable resemblance to Nero's Rome,
and Amy Freed mines the parallels to wonderful comic effect. I've admired her
work for quite some time and have been waiting for the right opportunity to
introduce her to our audience. Since the show is being staged by Sharon who makes up for
lost time by directing two plays for us this season it seems like the stars
are aligned for this project."
"I've been pining to work at Berkeley Rep since I first
started seeing shows there," Freed commented. "I love and admire the theatre.
As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the most exciting theatres in the country,
and I'm beside myself with jubilation that this day has arrived. The play is a
full-throttle comedy that just exploded into my brain. It's great fun for the
audience while also saying something that I passionately believe. And I wrote
this part with Danny in mind he's a terrific performer. So to see it come to
fruition right here in our community is truly thrilling."
The press materials say "not only does Nero fiddle while Rome burns, he fills the
Colosseum with an incendiary mix of sex and decadence. The egotistical emperor
commands a washed-up scribe to create an extravaganza that flatters his regime.
But to stage the script he must survive the real spectacle at the palace, where
his mother, his mistress, and an entourage of eunuchs play an elaborate game of
deceit and seduction. You, Nero is the third collaboration for this talented
team: Freed is a Pulitzer Prize-nominee known for hilarious scripts such as The
Beard of Avon and Restoration Comedy, both of which enjoyed acclaimed
productions under Ott's direction. Now she lets loose the tigers on a crumbling
empire obsessed with shallow celebrities, violent sports, and sensational
entertainment. When Rome
unravels like its reality TV, everyone wants to get in the emperor's new
This Roman romp wraps up Berkeley Rep's 2008/09 Season, an
ambitious line-up of adventurous plays that combines beloved artists with the
Theatre's commitment to commission 50 new plays by 2013:
The season takes
flight when Taccone directs the world premiere of Yellowjackets, a provocative
new play commissioned by Berkeley Rep. Set at BerkeleyHigh School and written by Berkeley native Itamar
Moses, this compelling collision of race and class forces us to examine
familiar surroundings with fresh eyes.
actor Delroy Lindo returns to Berkeley Rep with the play that netted him a Tony
nomination but this time, he's in the director's chair. Following last year's
triumph with Tanya Barfield's Blue Door, Lindo takes on August Wilson's
African-American epic, Joe Turner's Come and Gone.