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Berkeley Repertory Theatre Opens Three New Studios

Today, the Tony Award-winning Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced that it has opened another arts center in its community. Three new studios in the Arpeggio Building on Center Street are now buzzing with activity. With a 20-year lease on this 13,000-square-foot facility, Berkeley Rep is proudly forging partnerships with fellow nonprofits to continue transforming downtown into a destination for theatre lovers.

The new studios are perfect for meetings, classes, rehearsals, and performances. In recent weeks, they’ve housed everything from Berkeley Rep’s acting classes and its summer camp for teens to the annual Theatre Bay Area conference and performances by Ragged Wing Ensemble.

The centerpiece of this new complex is the Osher Studio, which adds a flexible and informal venue to the Downtown Arts District. The studio has a seating capacity of 200 and features a sprung floor, full sound and lighting systems, restrooms, a dressing room, and a kitchen. It commemorates the extraordinary generosity of the Bernard Osher Foundation, which donated $1 million to Berkeley Rep’s 40th Anniversary Campaign to support new play development, arts education, and outreach programs.

Located near the intersection of Center Street and Shattuck Avenue, the complex is convenient to BART, bus routes, bike lanes, and parking. Thanks to an “Arts Corridor,” it also connects to the Downtown Arts District on Addison Street. That bustling block – which houses Berkeley Rep’s Thrust Stage, Roda Theatre, and School of Theatre, as well as the Aurora Theatre, Freight & Salvage, and the Jazzschool – has been a model throughout the nation for neighborhood revitalization.

“After operating in cramped conditions for decades, Berkeley Rep is thrilled by recent opportunities to grow,” said Susan Medak, the Theatre’s managing director. “And, as a nonprofit that was born in a storefront, we are particularly excited to share these opportunities with arts organizations at an earlier stage in their development. We are enormously grateful to the Bernard Osher Foundation for its generous gift, and delighted that these studios allow us to welcome more performing groups to the Downtown Arts District.”

“The creation of these art spaces is a great thing for the City of Berkeley that will really serve to strengthen our already robust downtown arts scene,” remarked Mayor Tom Bates. “The City has been in need of additional performance, classroom, and rehearsal venues for arts groups, and it is wonderful to have spaces that can host a variety of smaller groups. We were fortunate in being able to partner with Berkeley Rep, and I believe they will be great stewards of these new studios.”

Berkeley Rep is providing the studios at a subsidized rate to local nonprofits that do not have permanent homes of their own, such as the Bay Area Children’s Theatre and Ragged Wing Ensemble. These partners benefit from their presence in a highly visible and heavily trafficked area that is already devoted to the arts, and their personnel have access to technology, equipment, and professional training from Berkeley Rep’s staff. In addition, a new outdoor gallery in the Arts Corridor is being curated by Kala Arts Institute.

“Bay Area Children’s Theatre is thrilled to work with Berkeley Rep to gain access to this gorgeous rehearsal and performance hall,” said Nina Meehan, the group’s executive director. “Our actors and directors are so excited to work in these state-of-the-art spaces. It is fantastic to be a part of the downtown Berkeley arts scene.”

Meanwhile, Berkeley Rep benefits from an abundance of new classrooms. Its School of Theatre – which is celebrating its tenth anniversary – has steadily increased its offerings and enrollment in recent years. Now it can provide more comfortable classrooms for students of all ages, including hundreds of teens who participate in its theatre camps every spring and summer. Berkeley Rep may also use the studios for rehearsals, auditions, and workshops of new plays or as a venue for dinners, lectures, and other special events associated with shows on its nearby stages.

Even as it unveils these studios, Berkeley Rep prepares to welcome more than 80 artists across town at The Ground Floor’s inaugural summer lab. A sort of incubator for theatrical startups or an R&D facility for artists, Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work only became possible when the nonprofit acquired a beautiful new campus in West Berkeley in 2010. Last year, on that site, the Theatre united its artisans and administrators under one roof for the first time in decades while cutting costs, improving efficiency, supporting the local economy, and upholding the tradition of light manufacturing in West Berkeley. That campus consolidates all of the Theatre’s pre-production activities in one place – from the costume shop, prop shop, and scene shop to storage and administrative offices. Although these functions were previously divided among five different locations in two cities, all of Berkeley Rep’s employees are now back in Berkeley.

Today – by adding three vibrant studios to its performing-arts complex in the Downtown Arts District – Berkeley Rep is delighted to continue creating centers for creativity in a city renowned for free speech. For more information on renting space at the Arpeggio, contact Amanda Williams O’Steen at (510) 647-2925 or awilliams@berkeleyrep.org. To register for one of 21 classes offered this summer by Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre, call (510) 647-2972, e-mail school@berkeleyrep.org, or visit berkeleyrep.org/school.

TodayTix


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