Berkeley Rep Premieres THE HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND, Now thru 3/16
Berkeley Repertory Theatre announces the world premiere of The House that will not Stand, a historical comedic drama commissioned from award-winning poet-playwright and Oakland native Marcus Gardley. Sensuous, witty, heartbreaking, and uplifting - The House that will not Stand unearths a story about free women of color in 1836 New Orleans, where black Creole women entered into common-law marriages with affluent white men. When her wealthy lover mysteriously dies, Beartrice Albans' foundation of security hangs precariously by a thread. She is left to fend for her three unwed daughters in a world where freedom must be carefully negotiated. Told in a rich and lyrical river of words, this new play was developed through The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep's Center for the Creation and Development of New Work. It's helmed by Patricia McGregor, whose many credits include the celebrated production of Spunk at California Shakespeare Theater.
The House that will not Stand begins previews on Berkeley Rep's intimate Thrust Stage tonight, January 31, opens on Wednesday, February 5 and runs through Sunday, March 16, 2014.
"Continuing Berkeley Rep's commitment to commissioning new work and nurturing emerging talent through The Ground Floor - our incubator for new work - we're delighted to premiere The House that will not Stand, a new play richly penned by Marcus Gardley," says Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone. "Marcus has been on the cusp of stardom for several years now and has reached a level of acclaim and justly deserved recognition. He partners with noted director Patricia McGregor who has a strong foothold here in the Bay Area from her well-received productions with California Shakespeare Theater. We're eager for audiences to experience the lyrical, enchanting, and lush world that Marcus and Patricia have created in The House that will not Stand."
"I'm thrilled to be making my debut at Berkeley Rep in the backyard of my hometown of Oakland," remarks Gardley. "The House that will not Stand is a story that is close to my heart and I'm grateful to have participated in The Ground Floor, which provided the creative space and artistic support to develop the play into what it is today. In writing this play, I was very much inspired by New Orleans and a particular time in its history when plaçage (the common-law marriages of white men and black Creole women) was a significant part of the culture. A lot of people don't know about this history, and a lot of people do not know that African American women were millionaires. I wanted to expose and evaluate the culture and how African American women functioned in New Orleans society within the class system of that era. What's powerful about the play and this time period is that you see all these questions about freedom coming together and clashing. It raises the notion of 'what is freedom and can anyone be free?' Plays come alive with an audience, and I can't wait for them to bring to life the full richness of this story."
Referencing Gardley's abundant body of work, the New York Times opines, "Mr. Gardley, who graduated from the Yale School of Drama, writes with a ripe lyricism. The richness of his language, which often finds pungent poetry in the African-American vernacular, inevitably brings to mind the work of August Wilson." The New Yorker writes, "The 32-year-old playwright's talent is immense...He traffics in lush images and plots that are as mysterious and surprising as forced flowers blossoming in winter...Gardley is an interesting heir to García Lorca, Pirandello, and Tennessee Williams."
The House that will not Stand was commissioned by Berkeley Rep and developed in The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep's Center for the Creation and Development of New Work. A co-production with Yale Repertory Theatre, the production plays the intimate Thrust Stage before moving to its New Haven venue in April 2014.
Marcus Gardley is a poet-playwright who is the recent 2012 James Baldwin Fellow. Gardley is also the winner of the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a Playwright in Midcareer and a Mellon Foundation grantee for a playwriting residency with Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. His play Dance of the Holy Ghost is currently running at Center Stage in Baltimore to critical acclaim, and The Road Weeps, the Well Runs Dry - his epic trilogy about the migration of African American and Indigenous people from Florida to Oklahoma - is having a national tour. His play Every Tongue Confess just closed in Atlanta at Horizon Theatre Company after premiering at Arena Stage starring Phylicia Rash?d and directed by Kenny Leon. It was nominated for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Award, the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play, and was the recipient of The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. Gardley's musical On the Levee premiered in 2010 at Lincoln Center Theater and was nominated for 11 AUDELCO Awards including outstanding playwright. He is the recipient of the 2011 Aetna New Voices Fellowship at Hartford Stage, the Helen Merrill Award, a Kellsering Honor, the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation grant, the Eugene O'Neill Memorial Scholarship, and the ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award. He also participated in the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights. Gardley holds an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama and is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Lark Play Development Center. He is a professor of theatre and performance studies at Brown University.
Patricia McGregor is a Harlem-based director, writer, and deviser of new work. Recent credits include The Mountaintop at Philadelphia Theatre Company, A Winter's Tale and Spunk at California Shakespeare Theater, and the world premiere of Hurt Village at Signature Theatre Company. As associate director of Fela! on Broadway, she coached Patti LaBelle in the role of Funmilayo. Other directing credits include Holding it Down with Grammy Award nominee Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd at Harlem Stage; In the Cypher at the Drilling Company; Girl Shake Loose Her Skin with Sonia Sanchez, Zakiyyah Alexander, and Imani Uzuri; as well as Jelly's Last Jam, Romeo and Juliet, Four Electric Ghosts, Cloud Tectonics, Eleemosynary, The French Play, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Sidewalk Opera, Dancing in the Dark, The Covering Skyline, and In the Meantime. She has worked on Broadway and at venues including New York's Shakespeare in the Park, Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Second Stage Theatre, The Public Theater, the Kitchen, the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Lincoln Center Institute, Exit Art, and Nuyorican Poetry Cafe. She co-founded Angela's Pulse with her sister, choreographer Paloma McGregor. Angela's Pulse creates vital choreoplays and fosters collaboration among artists, educators, organizers, academics, and other diverse communities in order to illuminate undertold stories, infuse meaning into the audience experience, and animate progress through the arts. McGregor attended the Yale School of Drama where she was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow and artistic director of the Yale Cabaret.
Paloma McGregor is a Harlem-based movement artist, journalist, and community builder. Recent choreography credits include A Civil War Christmas at Center Stage, A Winter's Tale and Spunk at California Shakespeare Theater, Four Electric Ghosts at the Kitchen, Children of Killers at Castillo Theatre, For a Barbarian Woman at Fordham University, Indomitable: JAmes Brown at SummerStage, and Blood Dazzler at Harlem Stage. She co-founded Angela's Pulse with her sister, director Patricia McGregor, to create collaborative performance work rooted in building community, telling undertold stories, and animating progress. They are currently collaborating with Marcus Gardley and composer Justin Ellington on a new musical about the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia. McGregor is also developing Building a Better Fishtrap, an iterative performance project about water, memory, and home, inspired by the stories of her father, an 88-year-old fisherman. She is an artist in residence at New York University's Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, has written extensively about dance and civic engagement, and created Dancing While Black to support the work of black dance artists. After leaving a career as a newspaper journalist, McGregor toured internationally for six years with Urban Bush Women Dance Company and has performed work by choreographers Liz Lerman, Cassie Meador, Christal Brown, Jill Sigman, Camille A. Brown, and others.
The House that will not Stand features a multi-talented ensemble of accomplished actors - many of whom make their Berkeley Rep debut with this production:
· Joniece Abbott-Pratt (Odette) is making her Berkeley Rep debut. Her New York credits include The Good Negro at The Public Theater, Alondra Was Here at the Wild Project, and Dirt Rich at SummerStage. Regionally she has appeared in Stick Fly at Arden Theatre Company; A Raisin in the Sun at Palm Beach Dramaworks; Slippery as Sin at Passage Theatre Company; Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the Huntington Theatre Company; Gem of the Ocean at Hartford Stage; The Piano Lesson at Yale Repertory Theatre and Delaware Theatre Company; The Good Negro at Dallas Theater Center; Mama's Gonna Buy You at the William Inge Theatre Festival; Stick Fly and The Overwhelming at Contemporary American Theater Festival; False Creeds at the ALLIANCE THEATRE; Breath, Boom at Synchronicity Performance Group; and The Doll Plays at Actor's Express. Abbott-Pratt attended Clark Atlanta University and received her MFA from the University of Iowa. Her film credits include the independent feature The House That Jack Built (dir. Henry Barrial), and her TV credits include The Good Wife and Made in Jersey. She received an MFA in acting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a member of AEA and SAG/AFTRA.
· Harriett D. Foy (Makeda) has appeared on Broadway in The American Plan, Mamma Mia!, and Once on This Island. Her off-Broadway credits include The Total Bent, On the Levee (AUDELCO nomination), and the AUDELCO Award-winning Crowns. Foy has performed around the country at Goodspeed Musicals, New York Stage & Film's Powerhouse Theatre season, Arena Stage, Yale Repertory Theatre, and American Conservatory Theater, among others. Her many film and TV credits include Winter's
Tale, All Good Things, In the Family, Orange is the New Black, Law & Order, and Rescue Me. Foy received her BFA from Howard University.
· Lizan Mitchell's (Beartrice) 2013 theatre credits include The Trip to Bountiful at Cleveland Play House, The Gospel of Loving Kindness (by Marcus Gardley) at Brown/Trinity Playwrights Repertory Theatre, This Was the End at Prelude 13 at CUNY, and Bil Wright's Celebrating Adrienne Kennedy at Phoenix Theatre Ensemble. She performed on Broadway in Electra, Having Our Say, and So Long on Lonely Street, and off Broadway in Rosmersholm, For Colored Girls... (25th anniversary show), Cell, and The Hurricane Katrina Comedy Festival (New York Fringe Festival Best Play). Her film and television credits include The Human Stain, John Adams (HBO), The Preacher's Wife, The Good Wife, Sesame Street, Law & Order, and The Golden Boy. Mitchell has received a Black Theatre Alliance Award, a Helen Hayes Award, an AUDELCO Award for Best Actress, and Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations.
· Petronia Paley's (La Veuve/Marie Josephine) New York credits include Volumnia in Coriolanus and Gertrude in Hamlet with Take Wing and Soar Productions, Clytemnestra in Electra (AUDELCO Award) and Madame Ranevskya in The Cherry Orchard (AUDELCO nomination) at the Classical Theatre of Harlem, Dr. Iris Preston in Relativity at Ensemble Studio Theatre (AUDELCO nomination), The Trial of One Short-Sighted Black Woman vs. Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae at the New Federal Theatre (AUDELCO Award), and more. Paley's regional theatre credits include A Raisin in the Sun at Crossroads Theatre Company, King Lear at Yale Repertory Theatre, The Trojan Women (Helen Hayes nomination), among others. Paley's one-person show On the Way to Timbuktu was first produced at EST and received an AUDELCO Award. She has been seen in the films Transporter, 2 Days in New York, Almost Summer, and White Girl, and her TV credits include Damages, Solomon Northup's Odyssey, Guiding Light, and Another World.
· Flor De Liz Perez (Maude Lynn) is making her Berkeley Rep debut. She has appeared in countless regional productions including the world premiere of Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll at Two River Theater Company; and In the Continuum, directed by Liesl Tommy, and Nicholas Nickleby, directed by Joe Haj/Tom Quaintance, both at PlayMakers Repertory Company. She is an ensemble member/performer with New York's Neo-Futurists in Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, and she is an associate artist with Theatre 167. Perez has also performed in the world premiere of In the Time of the Butterflies under the direction of Jose Zayas at Repertorio Español, which won the 2011 HOLA Award for Best Ensemble.
· Ray Reinhardt (Lazare) appeared at Berkeley Rep as Con Melody in A Touch of the Poet and James Tyrone in Long Day's Journey into Night. In his over 40 years as an actor, Reinhardt has had a wonderful time working at esteemed Bay Area theatres such as American Conservatory Theater (for 25 years in various roles including leads in Desire Under the Elms, The Visit, The Miser, Sleuth, and Cyrano de Bergerac), San Jose Repertory Theatre as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, Marin Shakespeare Company and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival in the title role of King Lear, Aurora Theatre Company as Gregory Solomon in The Price and Jacob in Awake and Sing!, and SF Playhouse in The Fantasticks and Storefront Church. He has performed on Broadway in A Flea in Her Ear and in Tiny Alice with Sir John Gielgud, as well in television and film.
· Tiffany Rachelle Stewart (Agnès) is appearing at Berkeley Repertory Theatre for the first time. She was recently seen in the ALLIANCE THEATRE's production of By The Way, Meet Vera Stark. Her New York credits include Blood Dazzler at Harlem Stage, A Midsummer Night's Dream at Lyceum Theatre, and Obama Drama at the 45th Street Theatre. Other regional credits include Conference of the Birds at the Folger Theatre, and The African Company Presents Richard III and Love's Labour's Lost at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Stewart has acted for television on All My Children and Royal Pains. She is also an avid dancer and choreographer; most recently choreographing the world premiere musical The Unfortunates at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Stewart received her MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama in 2007.
The creative team for The House that will not Stand includes a stellar roster of creative talent. Antje Ellermann (set designer) returns to Berkeley Rep where she previously designed 9 Parts of Desire, The Pillowman, TRAGEDY: a tragedy, and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Ellermann has been nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award, a Helen Hayes Award, an Ovation Award for 9 Parts of Desire, and an Emmy Award for Becoming American: The Chinese Experience on PBS. Katherine O'Neill's (costume designer) New York credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Whale Play at New Theater House, In the Cypher at Nuyorican Poets Café, and Blood Dazzler at Harlem Stage. Her designs have been seen around the country in The Taming of the Shrew at California Shakespeare Theater, Death of a Salesman at Yale Repertory Theatre, Island of Slaves and Love Song at Orfeo Group, The Emancipation of Mandy and Miz Ellie at Company One, Ti Jean and his Brothers at Central Square Theater, A Christmas Story at New Repertory Theatre, and Cosi Fan Tutti at Commonwealth Opera Company. O'Neil is a visiting professor of design at Amherst College and received her MFA in design from Yale University. Russell H. Champa (lighting designer) returns to Berkeley Rep after creating the lighting design for Les Waters' productions of Dear Elizabeth, Eurydice (also at Second Stage Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre), In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), and The Pillowman. On Broadway, Champa has designed In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) and God Said "Ha!" at the Lyceum Theatre. Keith Obadike's (sound designer and original compositions) sound design and composition credits include The Mystery Plays (Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Sound Design) at Yale Repertory Theatre and Second Stage Theatre, The Winter's Tale at Milwaukee Shakespeare, the Lincoln Center Institute production of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, and Blood Dazzler at Harlem Stage. The stage manager for the production of The House that will not Stand is Michael Suenkel, Berkeley Rep's resident production stage manager.
This season Berkeley Rep will partner with the Theatre Development Fund to offer 10 open-captioned performances. This state-of-the-art technology will allow Berkeley Rep to open its doors to a wider community by making performances accessible to patrons with hearing loss. An open-captioned performance for The House that will not Stand will occur on Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage to an international 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. In four decades, four million people have enjoyed more than 300 shows at Berkeley Rep. These shows have gone on to win five Tony Awards, seven Obie Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards, one Grammy Award, and many other honors. In recognition of its place on the national stage, Berkeley Rep received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1997. Its bustling facilities - the 600-seat Roda Theatre, the 400-seat Thrust Stage, the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, the Osher Studio, and a spacious new campus in West Berkeley - are helping revitalize a renowned city.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Thrust Stage is located at 2025 Addison Street at Shattuck, Berkeley, CA 94704. The show will play 51 PERFORMANCES: January 31- March 16, 2014: Tuesdays and Fridays @ 8:00 PM; Wednesdays @ 7:00 PM except @ 8:00PM on 2/5; Thursdays @ 8:00 PM and 2:00 & 8:00 PM on 2/13 and 3/13; Saturdays @ 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM; no matinee on 2/1 and 2/15; and Sundays @ 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM; no matinee on 2/2. No performance on Friday 3/14.
Low-cost previews: Friday 1/31, Saturday 2/1 Tuesday, 2/4@ 8:00 PM and Sunday 2/2 @ 7:00 PM
Opening Night: Wednesday 2/5 @ 8:00 PM; includes a pre-show dinner for donors at Angelina's Louisiana Kitchen and a post-show party for audiences.
Teen Night: Friday 1/31 @ 6:30 PM
Repartee: FREE docent talks before Tuesday and Thursday evening performances and free discussions after all matinees
Last Call: Sample wine, spirits, and other culinary delights from local vendors-all for FREE! Saturday 2/8 following the evening performance
Post-play discussions: Thursday 2/20, Tuesday 2/25, and Friday 3/7 following the performance
Tickets: $29 - $59 (subject to change) TIX & INFO: (510) 647-2949 - berkeleyrep.org. Discounts: Half-price tickets available for anyone under 30 years of age; $10 discount for students and seniors one hour before curtain; Groups of 10 or more, contact (510) 647-2918 or firstname.lastname@example.org.