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Berkeley Rep Sets Summer Residency Lab Projects

By: Mar. 09, 2016
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Today, The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep's Center for the Creation and Development of New Work announces that it has selected 18 projects for its fifth Summer Residency Lab featuring works from more than 30 talented artists. This June, as part of an extraordinary laboratory for collaboration, some of the nation's most prominent and promising writers, directors, designers, performers, and composers will unite at the Theatre's Harrison Street campus over an intense four-week period to share ideas, break bread, and create new plays. Dozens more local and out-of-town actors and directors will join the Summer Residency Lab, bringing the number of participating artists close to 100.

From 468 applications, residencies have been awarded to Lileana Blain-Cruz (Red Speedo) and Susan Soon He Stanton (Takarazuka!!!), Mia Chung (You For Me For You), Megan Cohen (The Horse's Ass and Friends), Eisa Davis (Bulrusher), Erin Edens (The Highway Plan), Dipika Guha (Mechanics of Love), Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble and the Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project (After All), Josh Kornbluth (Red Diaper Baby), Aaron Landsman (City Council Meeting), Josh Lefkowitz (Help Wanted: A Personal Search for Meaningful Employment at the Start of the 21st Century), James Magruder (Triumph of Love), Lisa Peterson (An Iliad) and Todd Almond (Girlfriend), Tori Sampson (Where Butterflies Go in the Winter), Jen Silverman (The Moors), Amy Staats (Hands), UNIVERSES (Party People), Joe Waechter (Good Ol' Boys), and Lauren Yee (The Hatmaker's Wife).

"The Ground Floor began as an experiment, and in just a few short years has nestled itself squarely at the heart of our organization," says Madeleine Oldham, director of The Ground Floor. "We are delighted to celebrate the fifth anniversary of this dynamic program with such an eclectic group of wildly talented and curious artists who will make work with us this summer. June can't come fast enough."

The Ground Floor was launched with seed funding from the James Irvine Foundation's Artistic Innovation Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and ArtPlace. This year's program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, ArtWorks, Bank of America, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and individual supporters of Berkeley Rep's Create Campaign.

Here is a list of the artists and projects selected for the fifth annual Summer Residency Lab:

· Lileana Blain-Cruz and Susan Soon He Stanton will collaborate on Intimacy, an experiment inspired by a psychological study featured in the New York Times article, "The 36 Questions That Lead to Love." Why? Because Tinder exists.

· Mia Chung's Bloken Engrish is about translation and English as the dominant lingua franca.

· Megan Cohen's Truest is a surreal Sam-Shepard-meets-Thelma-and-Louise drama in which two sisters pursue a uniquely twisted American Dream.

· In Eisa Davis' Flowers are Sleeping, a conceptual artist takes her work to the edge in a gallery installation that explores her black female body through the lens of music and popular representations.

· The Meaning of Ants in My Kitchen by Erin Edens is a play about the presence of absence and explores those palpable spaces that exist in our lives when something or someone goes missing.

· Dipika Guha and award-winning author Maxine Hong Kingston will develop The Art of Gaman, in which Kingston will portray Tomomi, an immigrant whose arrival in San Francisco coincides with the first wave of West Coast Japanese internment.

· A collaboration between Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble, members of the Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project, stage director/choreographer Erika Chong Shuch, composer Janet Kutulas, and librettist Michelle Carter, Iron Shoes is a neo-feminist, futuristic folk opera which transforms ancient Slavic fairy tales into a contemporary performance experience.

· Josh Kornbluth's The Bottomless Bowl is an autobiographical monologue recounting Josh's ongoing experiences as a volunteer caregiver at the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco. Having reached the age (55) when his father had a devastating stroke, Josh discovers through his encounters with the dying a new way of viewing mortality - his own, and those of his loved ones.

· Squares is a multimedia theatre project about nostalgia, memory, and technology. Created by Mallory Catlett, Aaron Landsman, Jim Findlay, and photographer Paul Shambroom, the piece is inspired by a collection of 583 found snapshots, all processed at a single lab in Minnesota in 1976.

· Josh Lefkowitz writes a poem a day, five years and counting. In Poetry Project, subject matters will include the following: love, break-ups, being alone, internet dating, various bar foods, Neruda, love again, heartbreak, baseball games, depression, Lexapro, and then, again, love.

· Writer James Magruder and actor Danny Scheie will collaborate on Keep Your Forks, in which protagonist Eddie Monell, a gay trophy husband cast off by his partner after 31 years, has to start over in Indianapolis at the age of 50 with no life skills, a bad attitude, and serious entitlement issues.

· Lisa Peterson and Todd Almond will do further work on their Berkeley Rep commission, The Idea of Order, a musical about the role of poetry in our lives, inspired by the life and work of Wallace Stevens.

· Tori Sampson's Cottoned Like Candy explores the value placed on bodies, how we accept the soul as a living anchor, and what can take place when we're forced to choose one over the other.

· Jen Silverman's My Father the Speeding Bullet: Nincest uses the frame of Anaïs Nin's love affair with her concert pianist father to create a gender-bending play-with-songs. She will collaborate with Pig Iron co-founder Dito Van Reigersberg, director Mike Donahue, scenic designer Dane Laffrey, and musician Max Vernon.

· Amy Staats will work with director Margot Bordelon and dramaturg/performer Megan Hill to develop Eddie and Dave: A Fictionalized Tale of Van Halen, a comedy about the on, off, and then on again relationship between the painfully shy but brilliant Eddie Van Halen and the flamboyantly extroverted David Lee Roth.

· UNIVERSES, a nationally acclaimed performance ensemble (last seen at Berkeley Rep with Party People) will work on the August Wilson Poetry Project, using the poetry of August Wilson as a foundation to create a musical poetic exploration that examines the power of legacy.

· The Untitled Hockey Project by Joe Waechter explores the dark implications of masculinity, sexuality, and fantasy around Minnesota's most popular sport: high school hockey.

· Lauren Yee will collaborate with director Benjamin Kamine on Untitled Cambodia Pop Play, a joyously dark comedy about a Cambodian rock band's unexpected reunion at the height of the Khmer Rouge regime.


As the umbrella for all new play activity at Berkeley Rep, The Ground Floor is a bold initiative designed to raise the bar on the Tony Award-winning nonprofit's already successful record of artistic innovation. Think of it as an incubator for theatrical start-ups or a top-notch R&D facility for artists. For more information on each project, and for future announcements or opportunities to interact, visit


The Ground Floor's Summer Residency Lab aims to create a truly safe space for artists that is not influenced by the pressure of imminent public exposure, so - unlike many other development opportunities - it does not require recipients to present a reading or performance at the end of their residencies. Nonetheless, many projects will reach a stage where the creators request an invited audience or even engage community members as collaborators. For more information on each project, and for future announcements of opportunities to interact, visit:


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