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Berkeley Rep Announces Participants For 2024 Ground Floor Summer Residency Lab

Berkeley Rep welcomes over 100 local and national artists to develop 23 innovative theatrical projects during nationally recognized development laboratory.

By: Jun. 25, 2024
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Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Artistic Director Johanna Pfaelzer and Managing Director Tom Parrish announced the Summer Residency Lab participants of The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep's Center for the Creation and Development of New Work.

Now in its 12th year, this nationally recognized program has become a much-anticipated laboratory for collaboration and creation. This year, over 100 local and national artists representing 23 projects will unite at Berkeley Rep's West Berkeley campus from Tuesday, July 9 –Sunday, August 4, 2024, for an intensive four-week period to exchange ideas, incubate new theatrical work, receive bespoke developmental support, and build artistic community.

"We have seen, over the last couple of years, diminishing opportunities for artists to gather in this kind of protected, rigorous environment to do the vital, process-driven work of creating new theatrical stories,” says Pfaelzer.  “I am proud and delighted that Berkeley Rep can be of service to these more than 100 innovative writers, directors, composers, choreographers and performers from across the country who will come together during this 2024 Summer Residency Lab to forge new, compelling stories.” 

The Residency Lab brings artists to Berkeley to work on projects in one- to two-week residencies over the course of four weeks. Artists have been selected through an open application process, as well as via existing relationships with Berkeley Rep. Depending on the expressed wishes of the artists, a project may culminate in a public sharing, though there is no requirement that the work be presented.

On Thursday evenings throughout Ground Floor, Berkeley Rep will host community salons at Michael's Second Act bar. Featuring cocktails and artistic sharings, this series features conversation with artists from the current Ground Floor community.


(in alphabetical order)

For more information on artists and projects, visit:

Book by Adam Chanler-Berat 
Composed/Lyrics by Julian Hornik 
Directed by Annie Tippe 
Richard has a play to make! Embarking on a docu-theatre project set in an assisted living facility, playwright Richard mines the residents of the memory care unit for the truth of their experiences; as he digs deeper—and grows closer to his subjects—he faces destabilizing revelations about himself and the community he has become enmeshed in. This meta-theatrical musical is a meditation on aging, purpose, and how we care. 

Written by The Lazours 
Directed by Ritesh Batra 
Bangladesh is a one-act musical theatre piece about the birth of a new nation from a bloody civil war. A nation forced into being by the audacity of a few good people up against powerful forces. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, it depicts the game of chess that is geopolitics, and countries and peoples that are its pawns. The musical will take us into rooms where the fates of nations are decided, and into the hearts of the people who decide them. 

Written/Performed by The Bengsons 
Directed by Anne Kauffman and Caitlin Sullivan 
The Broken Ear Trilogy (Working Title) is the culmination of 17 years of work by husband and wife duo The Bengsons and their collective of collaborators. In TBET their memoir-musicals Hundred Days, Ohio and The Lucky Ones - originally made each as standalone pieces - are reimagined into one larger work that tells the story of their lives from birth to an imagined death. With humor, grief, and wildness, this work explores faith, decay, love, and the possibility of intergenerational healing and change. At its heart, The Broken Ear Trilogy is a community celebration meant as an honest reckoning with who we've been, a dream of what we could become, and a hopeful gift to the next generation. May we fail as beautifully as possible! 

Written by Sanaz Toossi 
Co-created by Tala Ashe 
How do we become a village again? The Bygones is set somewhere like here, post-something that divided people. Now, instead of retribution and score-settling, a society is trying to attain communal justice and rehabilitation. But one woman's refusal to forgive threatens to burn down the whole again. Do we have an obligation to forgive? If we do it for the village, is it really forgiveness? What is forgiveness, anyway, and is it truly achievable?

Book/Lyrics by Annalisa Dias 
Composed/Lyrics by Ronee Penoi 
Orchestrations by Danielle Jagelski 
The Carlisle Project unravels the complicated legacy and trauma of Carlisle Indian Industrial School in an expressive song cycle, using both satire and ceremony to tell its harrowing history and the brutal assimilation enforced under its motto “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Indigenous descendants separated by time, place, and experience grapple with the generational trauma and erasure that Carlisle caused, and explore what it means to be Native American now and in the future. With this new musical ritual, Carlisle descendant Penoi (Laguna Pueblo/Cherokee) and Dias create bridges for understanding and intergenerational repair between Native and non-Native peoples living within the settler colonial US today. 

Written, Directed, and Choreographed by John Carrafa 
Creative Consultation/Dramaturgy by Carey Perloff
When rookie reporter Marguerite (“Maggie”) Higgins hitches a ride aboard a military cargo jet headed to Seoul at the onset of the Korean War, she begins a journey that will take her to one of the most brutal and surreal battles in American history. Among the US Marines, The Battle at Chosin Reservoir is legendary; the story is passed on to every new recruit. The Chinese and North Koreans haven’t forgotten either. The battle was dramatized in two recent blockbuster films in China and impacts our relationship with those countries to this day. Yet oddly, most Americans have never heard of it. Why not? This new play by writer/director John Carrafa follows Maggie through the genesis and the insanity of Chosin, and examines why the men who were there, including his father, would never speak of it.

Based on the novel by Walter Mosley 
Music/Lyrics by Eisa Davis 
Book by Walter Mosley and Jerome Hairston 
Music Direction by Ben Moss
Devil in a Blue Dress: The Musical adapts the first in Walter Mosley's popular series of Easy Rawlins novels, telling the tales of Black Los Angeles through the noir genre. Set in 1948, World War II veteran Easy Rawlins and his murderous friend Raymond ‘Mouse' Alexander must solve the mystery of missing white woman Daphne Monet, a femme fatale sought by the most powerful white men in the city. Daphne likes the lifestyle of the Black side of town and recently unemployed Easy has a mortgage to pay. Dewitt Albright, a white gangster/fixer, puts these elements together and makes Easy an offer he can't refuse. With songs by Eisa Davis (Bulrusher), and a book by Walter Mosley with Jerome Hairston, this new musical follows Easy through the juke joints, bars, hardworking, and hard drinking parts of LA—unearthing the raw poetry of a people, place, and time you won't find in any history book. 

Book/Lyrics by Shannon Burkett 
Composed by Heather Christian 
The Female Pope is the highly disputed story about a woman, disguised as a man, in the 9th century who rose to the papacy. A young girl, desperate to go to school, agrees to dress as a boy with the promise of an education. In doing so, she unlocks a passion for learning that will propel her to the most powerful position in the world, a stunning achievement that could threaten the very existence of the Catholic Church itself.

Written by Mikaal Sulaiman 
Fork is a drama exploring themes of retribution, the complexity of truth, and our biased assumptions. Brian Knight, a Black former NFL star, faces profound grief and turmoil after his son's death due to medical malpractice. Suspected of murdering his son's White doctor, Brian's struggle with CTE from his football career adds intensity to his plight. The erosion of his mind manifests in surreal, avant-garde mise-en-scène portraying his memories and deepening struggles. Riffing on the chess strategy called Fork, the play unravels in dual timelines of police interrogation and state-sanctioned therapy to evaluate his mental fitness for trial. Fork is not a play about race, although that plays a part; it is a profound examination of justice. Utilizing intricate sound design and Jacques Lecoq's approach to physical theatre, this piece challenges stereotypes and invites society to reflect on deeply ingrained beliefs and values, making it a crucial and immediate story. 

Written by Andrew Saito 
Directed by Steven Sapp 
Harlem Canary / Tokyo Crow is a comedic exploration of a little-known Japanese propaganda program during WWII, “Negro Propaganda Operations,” in which captured African American Prisoners of War recorded radio plays that contrasted the supposed joys they experienced living in Japan with the horrors of racism in the US. These recordings were intended for broadcast in Black communities in the US, to foment civil unrest. 

Written by Nikki Massoud 
Directed by Sivan Battat 
A newly divorced, newly arrived billionaire is drawn into the tantalizing world of reverse-aging technology by a charismatic younger man. Will he invest in saving the world for the next generation or sacrifice everything in his pursuit of immortality? A science-based thriller inspired by the legend of Zahak e Mardoush, from Ferdowsi's epic 11th century masterpiece Shahnameh (The Book of Kings). 

Created by Milo Cramer and Morgan Green 
Many people think of jury duty as a pain in the ass - or worse: as a dated, problematic institution that fails to administer justice. But from a different lens, the system is a democratic triumph, and one of the average citizens' few opportunities for impactful civic participation at a time when faith in our government is collapsing. Which is it? In 2018, director Morgan Green was summoned for jury duty. While she didn't ultimately serve on the jury, she did become fascinated by the intertwined politics and pageantry of this strange, old-fashioned, and beautiful American ritual. Working with frequent collaborator Milo Cramer, Jury Duty dramatizes the voir dire process: the cross-interrogation of prospective jurors by competing attorneys. The whole thing feels like theatre: justice administered via theatre.

Created by Jen Anaya, Dean Linnard, Caterina Nonis, Andy Peterson 
Chicago, 1989: it's the peak of the AIDS crisis and Mateo is dying. His mother believes that only a miracle can save him. But her faith is put to the test when she meets Mateo's boyfriend and their dramatically different worlds collide. Least of My Children is a hypnotic chamber piece, a musical-opera hybrid that grapples with questions of queerness, family, and the supernatural. The piece strives to make a case for the existence of hope in the face of irreparable loss. After lying dormant for over thirty years, the score of Least of My Children was miraculously rediscovered in a dusty old box by Dean Linnard, the son of the piece's late composer, Loren Linnard. Now Dean and the creative team are on a mission to revitalize this forgotten queer classic for the present day. A story of love, illness, and prestidigitation. 

Written/Performed by KJ Sanchez 
KJ is agnostic. Her brother is very spiritual. In fact, he is the Catholic Petitioner of the Cause for the canonization of Sister Blandina Segale (1850-1941). In this Spalding Gray-inspired monologue based on interviews, KJ seeks to truly know her brother, who she thinks is a saint. Her brother seeks to have KJ's help to spread the word about Blandina, who he thinks is a saint. Brother and sister are united by their history - but with a chasm of faith between them. A one-person investigative play written and performed by KJ Sanchez about what it means to be good and what it takes to be a saint. 

Written by Linda Amayo-Hassan 
The Missing Songs is an elegy, expressed through a tapestry of songs and scenes, each reflecting stories of missing Native women, children, and two-spirited peoples. Missing people, missing lives and missing generations. The pain and anguish of these events are told through the stories of those who have been left behind to mourn and grieve the loss of family and shared history. The perspectives of Native mothers, sisters, and daughters drive the piece, as we experience their fears and desperation, as well as their love and hope. These Native women reach for each other to find connection, comfort, and acceptance as they yearn for connection with the loved ones and descendants who have been stolen from their lives.

By Ngozi Anyanwu 
The Monsters is a sibling love story that  
LIL and BIG  
as they reconnect 
Wrestle with their demons 
Fight with their fists  
All through their love of MMA

Written by Christopher Sears 
Long ago  
There was a girl  
She was the child  
Of the world  
And when she sang  
We believed  
We could do 
Oh we could fly  
Oh we could fly  
But then one night  
There was a sound  
The girl was gone  
And we came down  
But two of us  
Still hear her song  
A river flowing through us all  
The Fool built a box  
to make us see  
The Theatre he swears is the place we can be  
And Grace belongs in the street  
“Stay open” 
she cries  
let the river weep  
Let them try 
The stage is set  
To make you remember before you forget  
Remember the time  
The time you said  
Oh we could fly  
Oh we could fly 

Written by Jaclyn Backhaus 
In May 1971, Yuba City's flourishing Punjabi farming community is rocked by the discovery of a body buried in the peach orchards. And then another. And then another. Harprit, a senior in high school, wants to get the story right; her family just wants to survive. A story of the struggle to feel safe in your small hometown. 

Written by Lucy Thurber 
Directed by Caitríona McLaughlin 
Port Isabel, Texas, a brand-new play by Lucy Thurber, is a sweet, sad, and sometimes funny exploration of what it means to say goodbye.

Written by Marvin González De León 
More than just one night of televised competition. This is a way of life. Real. American. Cowboy. follows five hopefuls on the stage and behind the scenes as they go head-to-head in a Ms. America-style pageant to win the top prize, the “Golden Sheriff's Badge.” As we witness the blood, sweat, and tears involved in the fight for the top spot as the roughest, toughest cowboy in this land of purple mountain majesty, we also witness the unraveling of the oldest American myth and find out what it truly means to be a real American cowboy. 

Written by Margot Bordelon 
Scrub is the story of a mother's life told through the objects in her overrun home. Woven between these tales are a daughter's memories of growing up working class in the Pacific Northwest. Part memory play, part interview project, this new work of autofiction explores the intersection of feminism, class, and mental illness. 

Written/Performed by Phil Wong 
What is the first meal you remember cooking for a loved one? Where does your mind go when you smell frying garlic? Why does ketchup taste like colonialism? Sic, Heung, Mei ???, Phil Wong's very first full-length playwrighting effort, is part cooking show, part food history, and part culinary seance. The play takes its name from the Cantonese cooking philosophy “Color, Aroma, & Taste”; the three cornerstones of a perfect dish as well as the three dimensions through which we perceive, receive, and enjoy our food. From the lost recipes and language of his Teochew Grandmother to the origins of his father's San Franciscan Cioppino, to a dim sum fueled sexual awakening, Phil dives deep into the heart of our collective sense memory around food and the sublime act of cooking. Set a big table and come eat. There's plenty for everybody. 

Book by Rehana Lew Mirza 
Composed/Lyrics by Ari Afsar 
That Girl is an intimate musical that explores the meaning of love and family across cultures and time, through the story of Maria and Samiya who find themselves in competition with one another as they vie for the love of charismatic musician Vijay. Thirty years later, their respective daughters (double-cast) must overcome the competitive mentality of their mothers in order to find the true meaning of sisterhood. With an epic pop rock singer-songwriter score, this musical explores what immigrants build, what women inherit, and what we're ready to choose for ourselves. 


  • Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright by Dan LeFranc (2012/13 season)
  • The House that will not Stand by Marcus Gardley (2013/14 season)
  • X'S and O'S (A Football Love Story) by KJ Sanchez with Jenny Mercein (2014/15 season)
  • Notes From the Field: Doing Time In Education, The California Chapter by Anna Deavere Smith (2014/15 season)
  • Aubergine by Julia Cho (2015/16 season)
  • John Leguizamo: Latin History for Morons by John Leguizamo (2015/16 season)
  • The Last Tiger in Haiti by Jeff Augustin (2016/17 season)
  • Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit by Daniel Handler (2017/18 season)
  • Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury (2018/19 season)
  • Becky Nurse of Salem by Sarah Ruhl (2019/20 season)
  • the ripple, the wave that carried me home by Christina Anderson (2021/22 season)
  • Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee (2022/23 season)
  • Out of Character by Ari'el Stachel (2022/23 season)



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