Berkeley Rep's Upcoming Season Will Include CHINGLISH, AN ILIAD and More
The Tony Award-winning Berkeley Repertory Theatre announces a new year of plays. The upcoming season features an array of accomplished artists who have collectively earned nine Obie Awards and three Tony Awards – David Henry Hwang, Denis O'Hare, Lisa Peterson, Leigh Silverman, MarK Wing-Davey, and Mary Zimmerman – while introducing local audiences to exceptional young writer Dan LeFranc.
The Main Season for 2012-13 begins in August with the West Coast premiere of Chinglish, the hilarious Broadway comedy written by Hwang and staged by Silverman. Then Zimmerman gives the Bay Area a beautiful gift for the holidays with The White Snake, before Berkeley Rep brings the Bard back with a bang in Wing-Davey's production of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. The Limited Season features Peterson and O'Hare's visceral new version of An Iliad alongside the exuberant world premiere of LeFranc's Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright. Two additional shows will be added soon to complement this collection of work and complete the season next spring. This entire experience is generously supported by BART and Wells Fargo, who are stepping forward as official season sponsors for the eighth straight year. Best of all, since Berkeley Rep insists that scintillating art should be accessible and affordable, theatre lovers can see three or more shows for as little as $27 each!
"Berkeley Rep always tries to wed passionate artists with potent stories to create work that is invigorating, entertaining, and challenging," declares Tony Taccone, the Theatre's artistic director. "This season is no different. We're delighted to welcome back distinguished directors like Mark, Mary, Lisa, and Leigh, each of whom has had remarkable success since last we met. We're excited by the range of writers as well: I'm pleased to bring David back to the Bay Area, and it's been quite some time since Shakespeare was seen on our stage. As for Dan LeFranc, he's got real talent and is about to have a breakout year. Whatever we're exploring, Berkeley Rep strives to go beyond entertainment and tap into our shared humanity. Theatre is a communal act that relies on this kind of connection. It relies on inquisitive artists, on our dedicated staff and volunteers, and on our curious, adventurous audience."
Thanks to the eclectic appetite of that audience, Berkeley Rep has grown from a storefront stage to a national leader in innovative theatre. Since 1968, it has provided a welcoming home for emerging and established artists, encouraging them to lovingly revive classics and increasingly to create bold new work. In the last six years, the company has helped send six shows to Broadway.Seven more landed off Broadway, one moved to London, two turned into films, and others toured the nation. At present, American Idiotkeeps rocking on the road while the extended off-Broadway run of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs proves that theatre can affect true global change as it exerts an important influence on international labor practices. Now the curtain rises on another year of inventive and intelligent plays in Berkeley…
The season kicks off in August with the West Coast premiere of Chinglish. David Henry Hwang won three Obies and the Tony Award for Best Play with popular scripts like M. Butterfly and FOB. Now he's back with a canny comedy of cross-cultural errors. InChinglish, an American businessman heads to Asia to score a lucrative contract for his family's firm – but the deal isn't the only thing getting lost in translation as he collides with a Communist minister, a bumbling consultant, and a suspiciously sexy bureaucrat."Hilarious," raves Variety. "This well-made comedy takes a poignant view of the profound isolation and terrible vulnerability of people who are lost without their native language." "I haven't heard an audience laugh that much in years," agrees the Chicago Sun-Times. "There's sex, heartache, even a bit of song and dance…. Hwang takes a situation that worries most Americans – China's rise – and the impossibility of understanding each other, particularly in languages as different as Chinese and English, and builds a marvelous comedy." Two-time Obie-winner Leigh Silverman returns to the Roda Theatre to stage the twists in a terrific play she took to Broadway. Love is on the line, and laughter fills the ledger in Chinglish.
Then an ancient tale comes roaring back to life in a compelling new telling filled with contemporary wit and wisdom. The clash of swords and shields, the broken hearts and broken oaths, the bonds of friendship and family – An Iliad arises on a bare stage, told by an old man who's seen too much. In October, Obie Award-winner Lisa Peterson directs a stunning show that captures the grief and glory of the battle for Troy. Homer removes his armor on behalf of all humanity and reveals the truth within each of us. "Spellbinding," proclaims the New York Times. "Smartly conceived and impressively executed, An Iliad relates an age-old story that resonates with tragic meaning today." Presented on the intimate Thrust Stage, the script by Peterson and Denis O'Hare is adapted from Robert Fagles' translation of the original. "Explosive, altogether breathtaking," says the Chicago Sun-Times. "Brilliantly meshes past and present calamity, with touches of the most caustic dark humor suddenly shifting into unimaginable pathos. Their vision allows us to see the faces of 18-year-old soldiers plucked from the villages of Greece and the beautiful city of Troy morph into those of the similarly young men from Nebraska and New York who have ended up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq." A hawk, a dove… An Iliadraces through time to become indelibly relevant today.
Next Berkeley Rep welcomes back a beloved artist. Mary Zimmerman is mesmerizing. From Metamorphoses to The Arabian Nights, audiences have embraced her enchanting adaptations of epic tales. Now the acclaimed director casts a spell with The White Snake, a classic romance from Chinese legend. As she falls for a charming young man, a snake spirit discovers what it means to be human. But a monk objects, and the bride must unveil her magical powers to save their love. "Tony-winning theater alchemist Mary Zimmerman has become famous for breathing fresh life into primal fables," remarks the Mercury News. "Time and again, she reconnects us to the myths dancing at The Edges of our collective subconscious." "Zimmerman has the kind of transforming theatrical touch that reconnects audiences to what live theater is all about," adds the San Francisco Chronicle. "Mystery, magic, a heightened awareness of the physical, music, spectacle and a showman's audacity – all these form the defining grammar of her work." And USA Today asserts, "Zimmerman could stage the Chicago phone book and have it be fascinating!" With the alluring and hypnotic White Snake in the Roda Theatre, Zimmerman unwraps another exquisite gift for the holidays.
After the New Year, get ready for Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright. Only Berkeley Rep could unleash this wild world premiere, which it commissioned from hot young playwright Dan LeFranc. It's nineteen mighty-eight. In working-class Rhode Island, Bradley and his bestest friend tangle with rich kid Jake Miller and some middle-school goons. And their nemesis has help from a bunch of zombies and grown-ups! Put down that backpack, turn up the soundtrack, and let's cut class. LeFranc was awarded the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, and that eminent newspaper reported, "In this most vibrant of theatrical communities, we thought it would be fitting to focus on the most powerful of new voices." Now he stirs up trouble on Berkeley Rep's Thrust Stage. Faster than a speedboat, more fun than a video game, Troublemaker has a sassy mouth and an irresistible heart of gold.
Action, adventure, emotion, and awe… Expect that and more when MarK Wing-Davey brings a nimble take on Shakespeare to Berkeley Rep. The Obie Award-winning director served up such diverse works as Mad Forest, The Beaux' Stratagem, and 36 Views. Next spring he delivers a riveting look at Pericles, Prince of Tyre. A virtuous man clings to the mast of a storm-tossed ship as his family reels from palace to brothel to a sacred Greek temple. Knights and pirates, villains and kings… Discover the excitement of Shakespeare all over again in Pericles. We promise: despite the tides of fate, the good guys are "led on by heaven and crown'd with joy at last.""Wing-Davey combines the instincts of the painter with those of the photojournalist," notes the New York Times. He "first burst upon the local scene with his electrifying version of Caryl Churchill's Mad Forest at the Rep in 1992, then staged ACT's long-running production of Angels in America," the San Francisco Examiner explains. Don't miss his long overdue return to Berkeley Rep's Thrust Stage.
Get the best seats for these shows at the consistently lowest prices by subscribing to Berkeley Rep. The Main Season package guarantees tickets for Chinglish, Pericles, The White Snake, and two shows to be announced soon, while the Full Season package also includes seats for An Iliad and Troublemaker. Alternatively, you can "choose your own season" by selecting three or more plays that appeal to your palate. 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 Mikhail Baryshnikov's In Paris and Eve Ensler's Emotional Creature. Best of all, subscribers have guaranteed seats to sold-out plays while others are turned away.
Ticket packages begin as low as $81. Berkeley Rep also offers generous discounts for senior citizens, theatregoers under 30, and employees of nursery, elementary, and secondary schools. Purchase a subscription now, because individual seats don't go on sale until August.
In addition to offering steep savings on great seats for subscribers, Berkeley Rep organizes free events nearly every night to stretch that budget even further. Arrive at the Theatre early to enjoy gourmet tastings with local culinary artisans, pre-show talks with trained docents, and a delicious menu of local, organic, and sustainable food at the café. Certain evenings also feature post-show chats with the artists or late-night parties that welcome a new generation of theatregoers. These free activities transform a play into an entire evening of entertainment.
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 was honored with the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1997. Its vital and versatile facility – which includes the 400-seat Thrust Stage, the 600-seat Roda Theatre, and the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre – is the linchpin of a bustling arts district that is helping to revitalize downtown Berkeley. A not-for-profit organization, the theatre welcomes an annual audience of 200,000, serves 23,000 students, and hosts dozens of community groups, thanks to 1,000 volunteers and more than 330 artists, artisans, and administrators.
Come see tomorrow's shows today at Berkeley Rep. The Roda Theatre and the Thrust Stage are both located on Addison Street in downtown Berkeley, near bus lines, bike routes, and parking lots – and only half a block from BART. For more information, call (510) 647-2949 or click berkeleyrep.org.